Week 3: Be radiant!
Making an Impact
- glass of water filled half-way
- piece of white paper
Find a window in your home with direct sunlight shining through. Explain that you are going to separate that light into 7 different colors! Then place the glass half-filled with water in the direct ray of sunlight. Place the white paper on the floor where the rays ultimately end displaying a rainbow! Just as the rainbow is created from light and water, God can use what we have to offer and multiply its effects into something even greater!
Sometimes we don’t think what we have to offer is enough to make a difference. Read Deuteronomy 16:17 from your Bible as a family. What does this verse mean to you?
If we are called to give God our first fruits (Leviticus 27:30), what then should we do first before we spend our earnings from allowance, doing chores, lemonade stands, etc?
Grab a bag of skittles or m&ms and a cup. Give each family member a handful of candies. Have each person count their individual pieces of candy and figure out what portion would be 10%. Place the other 90% of candies in the cup to be enjoyed. Combine all family members “tithe” and discuss the value of working together as one body.
The nuclear reactions that happen at the core of the star produce energy which counterbalances the gravitation force that is trying to collapse the start in on itself. That energy we see as light and, if we’re close enough (like from the earth to the sun), we feel it as heat.
It’s not just inconsequential output. We see the light of the stars, and from the star that orders our galaxy, we receive life-giving light, as well as heat. The radiance of a star like our sun serves a purpose – a life-giving purpose. Without the output of the energy from the sun, life on earth would not be possible. Our giving should serve a life-giving purpose as well.
In 1 Timothy, Paul gives Timothy advice on ministering to the wealthy:
“As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share.” (1 Timothy 6:17-18)
Yeah, we think. What Paul said. It’s easy to claim we believe that, but we don’t often act like we believe that. We become good at gaining money and possessions, and the more we have, the better we become at keeping it. (Remember, the richer we get, the smaller the percentage we give away.) To quote Andy Stanley, “We have everything we need. But we lose sight of what we need it for.” God has given us so much, and has meant us to do something worthwhile with it.
It is important to give. The simple act of giving shows that we are indeed managing our money well. When we give, we are reducing the power money has over us and are declaring that our hope, our trust, our identity is not in our possessions. The very act of giving allows us to strike the balance we so desperately need in our lives, and allows us to set our hopes not on our riches, which are uncertain at best, but on God. As Adam Hamilton says, “We were created for giving.” So, just the act of giving itself is important for us.
Even more important is giving to God. If we recognize that all we have comes from God to begin with, and we give in response to God’s generosity to us, it is us declaring our gratitude, honor, and love for God. When we give to God, we are declaring God as our master, we find our identity and contentment in our creator, and we begin to be free from the pull of money.
Jacob, after seeing a vision of a ladder reaching up to heaven, is so overwhelmed by God’s glory and favor that he declares, “If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house; and of all that you give me I will surely give one-tenth to you.”
How should we give to God? Giving financially to the church is giving to God. The church was created and is sustained by God to be the body of Christ: a community, a place to worship God, and a movement to live out our faith and to help bring the kingdom of God to earth. When we support the church with our financial gifts it is a privilege and response to the love of God in our lives. And when we give in a planned, strategic, intentional way it is an act of worshipping God and of recognizing that our relationship with God is the most important thing in the world.
God’s people have always given God a portion of what they had. As it was for Jacob, giving a portion was a way of saying to God, You gave this to me, and I return this part to you, because I love you and am grateful. The portion given to God is commonly called a tithe, or a “tenth.” It might be challenging to give 10 percent of our income to the church, but if we continually remind ourselves of what God has done for us, and what God has created us to do, then it does not seem like so much. We can perhaps then more easily understand the widow Jesus witnessed giving in the temple. She gave two small coins, but had done so more generously than those who gave huge bags of coins, because the percentage was greater. She gave out of humble gratitude to God; she gave to honor God. And Jesus’ comments powerfully reveal that the percentage given matters more than the amount given (Mark 12:43-44).
Like the energy from the sun that serves a life-giving purpose, we want our giving to serve a purpose as well. When we thoughtfully and intentionally give a percentage to the church our giving serves the greatest purpose there is.
Prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola: “Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and my entire will, all I have and call my own. You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace, that is enough for me.”
How do you give? Randomly, as things arise, seasonally, or strategically?
Do you tend to give more when you have an emotional or personal connection to something? Why, or why not?
Is there purpose in your giving?
How often do you see the effects of your gifts?
Do you spend a lot of time devising how much and to what you will you give?
How often do you evaluate the impact of your giving?
Who do you talk to about how and to what you decide to give? Your spouse? Partner? Children? Parents? Minister? Small group? Financial advisor? How often do you talk about it?
After you save, give, and cover your costs, are you frugal with what’s left? Generous? Reckless? Wasteful? Are you the same with extra energy and time?
Is it easier for you to give sporadically, when you can or when there is a need, or to give automatically, regularly and consistently to something?
Do you tithe? Is 10% a standard that makes sense to you?
If you were to give 10% of your income, what would you have to sacrifice?
Are you satisfied with the amount that you give? What is the percentage?
What would it take for you to increase that percentage?
Have you ever considered developing a giving plan, similar to your savings and spending plans?