Debt - ✔
Late fees - ✔
Electricity shut off for non-payment - ✔
Cell phone shut off for non-payment - ✔
Car insurance cancelled for non-payment (and license suspended) - ✔
Car repossessed - ✔
Living paycheck to paycheck - ✔
Savings account - What’s that?
Tithe - Occasionally, when I am “able”
What is wrong with that list?
Everything, correct! Lets just say I have made my fair share of poor financial decisions. Some were due to circumstances out of my control, others were just me being irresponsible.
As I sat in gathering Sunday I couldn’t help remember a bible verse I memorized during a very difficult time in my life. I even remember sitting in my tiny one-bedroom apartment, on the bed I had to buy off craigslist, a few pieces of furniture a friend was letting me borrow, and ramen noodles in the cabinets.
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
I don’t even remember how I came across the verse but I clung to it, I wrote it down over and over again. I would recite it in my head throughout the day. While I may have been financially broke at the time, I had a job which paid the rent for the roof over my head and those ramen noodles which kept me from going hungry. I had a loving friend who let me borrow furniture out of storage so I had a small couch to sit on and family who welcomed me for dinner anytime (plus sent me home with leftovers).
This past Sunday’s gathering really convicted me vs my whole life where I have always felt condemnation for my financial mistakes.
“Condemnation causes us to turn away from God in fear, dread, and shame. Conviction causes us to come to God and freshly place our faith in the perfect life and death of Christ. Condemnation leads us to believe that we’ll never change and that we aren't worthy of God's love. Conviction gives us hope that, even though we sinned, God is still at work in us.”*
*To read more about difference between conviction and condemnation check out this article Conviction or Condemnation...Knowing the Difference
If you asked my friends and family I feel they would say I am a generous person (during the times I was not broke). However I would definitely fall under the spontaneous generosity category. When I get a big bonus and am feeling financially comfortable, I tithe, buy my friends lunch, donate to causes and maybe buy that new shirt I didn’t need.
I got quite a chuckle when Blake said, “Rarely do we drift to the positive." How true is that!?! He reminded us that generosity is who we are, it is not just an act.
- Planning - deciding how much to give, when and where
- Self-control - not blowing my whole paycheck on eating out and shopping
- Discipline - Sticking to the plan and making sure it is priority and not what is leftover
Planning. Self-control. Discipline. Three things that are not currently my strong suites. So how will I become this generous person I feel God has been moving me to be?
With Him by my side, every step of the way, every financial decision I make... and even when I make a mistake I will know he is there to help me back up.
Remember the verse I memorized that flooded back from my memory this past Sunday?
Does anyone know what the next verse is?
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Gather with us this Sunday as we continue to move out in ever-widening circles to change our world. In the mean time, check out Blake's message on generosity from this past Sunday here.