Maybe you are like me; you are really good at “flying by the seat of your pants?”
There was a time that I took that ability as a badge of honor. Yet, as I have grown older and possibly wiser, I have come to value being more intentional in my life. The result is I have realized the benefits of being intentional. I have also realized a number of benefits of being intentional in my giving as a follower of Christ.
Last week I mentioned the excellent book on giving, “The Eternity Portfolio.” The author pointed out four benefits when we have a plan for our giving. The first is that when I plan I actually am able to give more and be more effective with my gifts. Now, I need you to stop and think about this for a moment. If you are giving based on requests, whim or feeling (i.e. guilt), more than likely you are a casual giver and have never experienced the true joy of giving. A person that is intentional will normally give more than a casual giver but will also have a greater impact in a number of ways. You could for instance gift toward a love offering for a missionary and have an impact for a particular need. Yet consider the impact from supporting them regularly month by month! The Apostle Paul’s encouragement to the Corinthians believers also encourages us to be intentional in our giving.
Intentional giving, or having a plan, makes it easier to say, ”No.” Now this sound like the opposite of being generous but it is not. Even Jesus did not meet every need but was selective. When you have a plan for giving you are able to focus on those areas that the Lord would have you focus on. Have you ever felt guilty and obligated to give to a Santa Clause ringing a bell in front of a store, or to put something in the offering plate at church every time it is passed. Well, if you have a plan you do not need to feel guilty. My wife and I give the first Sunday after we are paid each month. We do not feel guilty the other times and occasions because we have a plan. Yes, we will often give spontaneously, but our primary giving is directed by decision we have made in advance.
Planning makes you a cheerful giver. I like this benefit the best. I have never met a grumpy generous person. It is because giving changes us for the better. When you have a plan for giving it removes the conflict or spending that money on yourself and giving it to God. The decision to give to God transforms this from being a burden to a blessing. Giving is one of God’s antidotes for selfishness. When you start giving, you start to change. Jesus said it best, “It is better to give than receive.”
A giving plan helps you to grasp where faith begins as a follower of Christ. Some might argue that any gift to God takes faith, but I am not sure that is true. True faith requires us to trust God to do something that we cannot do ourselves. Most of us have discretionary funds that we could give without having to trust God. When you have a plan you begin to understand where that line exists and you are stretched to trust God in a greater way. The result is our faith grows as we see the Lord’s faithfulness in keeping His promises.
I am so thankful that I learned very early as a follower of Christ to be intentional with my giving. It is my hope that you would come to know the same joy as you respond to the Lord leading in your life in this area.
-Pastor Joe Parkinson