Have you ever taken a moment to evaluate and reflect on how you organize your monthly budget? What line items find their way to the top of the column? Mortgage…food…car loan…clothing…pet food…Netflix subscription? What tends to get left over and pushed to the bottom?
I believe our budgets give us an indication of what we value most in life. We put the have-to-happen items at the top and the things-you-could-do-without-if-you-had-to items at the bottom. Makes sense. I mean, after all, we have to prioritize.
Everyone’s priorities are different and there is nothing wrong with that because our individual situations are unique. However, there is one priority we could probably give more attention to, and in 2013, I want to make it a goal. I want to give like never before.
We have so much abundance, yet we tend to just give leftovers. In other words, we give from what is leftover at the end to the month or from what we feel we can’t do without. We reach into our wallets on Sunday morning and see all we have left is $20, so we put $10 of it in the offering plate. Or we casually put our loose change in the Salvation Army kettles as we walk into Wal-Mart to spend $300 on Christmas presents.
What if, instead of giving from our leftovers, we put giving at the top of the column in our budget? What if we gave it first priority?
In the Old Testament portion of the Bible, God instructed Moses to build Him a tabernacle so He could dwell among the Israelites. In Exodus 35, Moses laid out the vision for the dwelling place of the Lord and asked the people to give their possessions, talents and time to the building of the structure. We read that…
“…everyone came whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing, and they brought the Lord’s offering for the work of the tabernacle of meeting…They came, both men and women, as many as had a willing heart…” (Ex. 35:20-22)
So these people were sensitive to a need and then acted. They did so voluntarily with a willing heart. Their actions led to an extraordinary outcome…
“So they continued bringing to him freewill offerings every morning. Then all the craftsmen who were doing all the work of the sanctuary came…[and] spoke to Moses, saying ‘The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work which the Lord commanded us to do. So Moses gave a commandment…‘Let neither man nor woman do any more work for the offering of the sanctuary.’ And the people were restrained from bringing, for the material they had was sufficient for all the work to be done — indeed too much.” (Ex. 36:3-7)
Unbelievable! The people made giving such a high priority they were actually told to stop! That’s pretty radical giving. But the people’s radical giving resulted in an incredible blessing as the tabernacle was completed and God filled it with his presence.
My goal is to become more like these people in 2013. I want to keep giving the #1 priority I focus on each month as I plan how the resources I have been blessed with will be allocated. I would rather look back at the end of the year and think, “Perhaps I gave more than enough” than to be forced to admit, “I really just gave from my leftovers.”
What is the way you determine how much to give to charity each month/year? This post only focused on giving of material possessions. What other ways do you plan on giving this year?
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