3 Fears of Giving

What are you looking at?

I can’t read that phrase without an aggressive mindset. It is a classic ‘don’t bother me’ phrase and an attempt to push people away with force.

I have found that my aggressive responses come from a deep seeded fear. No matter what the issue most anger comes from something that I am afraid of. Whether it is a fear of being hurt, rejected, abandoned or isolated, anger is a secondary response to the emotion of fear that I feel first.

The Bible tells us that there is no fear in love, instead perfect love drives out all fear (1 John 4:18), which is great because love is the cure for hurt, rejection, abandonment and isolation. So it should be simple, love drives the fear of those things away and we don’t respond in anger. But when we don’t realise that fear exists within us, then it becomes a little more complex as we can subconsciously hold on to that fear and reject love. I have found it really helpful to ask at random times, “what am I afraid of?” Then to honestly answer that question and know that there is a loving God who won’t hurt, reject, abandon or force me into isolation if I am honest with myself. That is the first step to love driving out fear. (It’s helpful to verbalise this to someone trustworthy too).

The truth is that there is fear lurking in many areas of our lives, especially when it comes to giving.

So what is it that scares us when it comes to giving away our hard earned cash?

  1. That I won’t have enough after…

896 million people around the world live on less than 2 dollars a day, and Australia is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Comparatively we have more than enough. (Try talking to someone in a developing country about the concept of ‘leftovers’). It also doesn’t take much to change the lives of those living in poverty; through a small loan of $70 so a mother in India, Indonesia or the Philippines can start a business, feed her family and send her kids to school. You don’t have to fix poverty on your own, start small and test out how much you can live off after you give some away.

 

  1. That my money won’t go to what I want it to…

You can be very picky and choosy about what you would like an not-for-profit organisation to do with money when you give it to them. If there is a specific area of the world, or a type of project that you are keen to fund, you can ensure your money goes towards that area and a good not-for-profit will update you with reports on the latest goings on. Alternatively, you can be very picky and choosy with the not-for-profits that you give to – if you don’t trust an organisation, don’t give to them.

 

  1. That the organisation I give to won’t stop hassling me to give more…

This is a legitimate fear and well-founded fear and I have heard of a number of occasions where this has happened. The beauty is that all not-for-profit organisations in Australia have to comply with strict privacy regulations and complaints procedures. What this means is that an organisation cannot send you anything unless you have asked for it, and you have every right to ring up and tell them to minimise the mail/phone calls/emails, or that you only want to receive communication via email or to stop contacting you all together. If they don’t abide by your requests you can take the complaint to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission, which governs all registered charities in Australia. This is the government arm which has the final say as to whether a charity is legitimate and should be registered for tax-deductable purposes. You are in charge of how much you get contacted.

 

These may be your fears, or you may have others, let me encourage you to name them and remove the barriers to giving back, and ultimately improving your life.

If only I had more…

How often has that thought passed through your mind?

“If only I had more money, then I would…”

I wonder how you would finish that sentence.

Save? Buy? Give?

I feel that the last one, give, would fall into that category for most of us. If I only had more money I would give to this charity. I would support that cause. I would give to the work of the church. I would fix the world. Maybe all of the above.

If only…

I have discovered that, as people, it is very unlikely that we will make a significant change in our character overnight. More often than not we are unable to just flick a switch and start doing something that we haven’t done before. Have you ever heard someone say, “I could give it up if I wanted to.” Be it smoking, excessive drinking, eating junk food or anything that isn’t good for us. We feel like we can modify our behaviour in an instant and pay no attention to the habits that we have formed over the years. But to make a change takes effort. It takes discipline and it takes time.

Want to be generous?

At some level, I believe we all want to give back and invest in something that is bigger than ourselves. But we can’t just flick a switch and start giving millions of dollars away when we retire

When we arrive at certain milestones in life, be it a better paying job, a significant birthday, a change in social status, retirement or winning the lotto, if we haven’t put things into place to become the person we want to be, then we will be the same person we were before. That might not sound too bad but it means that the aspirations we have will never be reached if we don’t take steps in the direction we want to go. If you are not generous with your money now, you will not be when you have more.

I see this philosophy at work in the parable of the three servants in Matthew 25.  Jesus tells a story about a master who gives his servants money to manage. The first one gets a certain amount, the second one receives less than half of that, and the third one receives a tenth of what the first guy got. The instructions were clear, look after it as if it was your own.

The first guy invested and doubled his money, the second guy did the same thing, but the one with the least amount was so caught up in what little he had, he hid it so that he wouldn’t lose it. He was afraid. The master was happy with the first two servants and entrusted them with more, but he was furious with the third guy because he didn’t even try. So the master took away the money he entrusted to him and gave it all to the first guy. I find it interesting that the master didn’t say ‘oh, you must not have had enough money, let me give you some more so you can do better next time.’ He just took the money away. The reason? How you behave when you have a little is exactly how you behave when you have a lot. It doesn’t matter how much you have; it is what you do with it.

Generosity breeds generosity.

What does all this mean?

If we ever think that being generous will be easier when we have more money, we are kidding ourselves.

So, if you want to be a generous person and give back and you aren’t currently giving, don’t wait, start now. Start small but be consistent and build a habit. Then if you start to earn more, give more. So when you become rich and famous, or win lotto, or somehow come into a large amount of money, giving back is ingrained and you don’t give it a second thought.

You can give to worthy charities, and the church and fix the world beginning now.

Generous God (but not selfless…)

Genesis 1:26-28
God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature
So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the cattle,
And, yes, Earth itself, and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.”
God created human beings; he created them godlike,
Reflecting God’s nature. He created them male and female.
God blessed them.

 

At the pinnacle of creation, God brings in people. He creates them, but not as an addition to what He already made. He created them to enjoy and manage. To participate in the life of His creation, and to participate in life with Him.

God put so much of Himself in to creating this world – because He is not one to do things half-hearted. He called it good. He was so pleased with it. Proud of what He had made. In light of that, it makes the invitation to include people and delegate authority to them so much more staggering. It is an incredibly generous gesture, from the heart of a generous God.

That’s how He created us too. As generous humans. It’s innate within us to be generous and thoughtful to the people and environment around us. It’s part of who we are and why we exist. As with anything though, if you ignore the generous inklings (perhaps you can read that as ‘the promptings of the Spirit’), then over time the desire for generous living can become easier to ignore and ultimately disappear from our character. That is how we find ourselves in a world with some who don’t appear to be generous at all. It can be fixed though; generosity breeds generosity.

Generous God, generous creation, generous people.

There is no doubt that things are not as they should be…but it is still good, with glimpses of heaven on earth.

I don’t see this creative and generous act of God as completely selfless though. I don’t necessarily see God Himself as completely selfless. He is relational and therefore He receives the benefit of relating with us and His creation. This brings Him joy. He receives because of His generosity. I wouldn’t call it payment or reward, more like fruit. Fruit that He knows is coming. Perhaps our thinking of how selflessness is an attribute that we should strive for, needs adjustment. I don’t see it mentioned anywhere in the Bible – it is definitely not a fruit of the Spirit.

This can change the way that we think about our generosity towards others. It releases us to be generous with reckless abandon and willingly receive the benefits, or fruit, that come our way as a result. We don’t need to shy away from it or be embarrassed because we feel good when we give. Not that feeling good becomes the sole motivation for generosity, but it’s ok to receive benefit for doing good, for being generous and thoughtful. This does not diminish the work that we do.

Occasionally I think of the dark side of relationships and how God reaps the fruit of that too. He endures the worst of it, as we do. Rejection, hurt, dishonesty, hatred, fear and misunderstanding – all at the hands of what He created. Because of us. It’s not all love songs and roses. Still, He is generous with love for us and we bring Him joy.