We’ve all been there.
We sit in church and listen to the pastor express the financial needs for a ministry, a mission trip, or a person. Our heart begins to beat a little faster. Our palms begin to sweat.
We feel compelled to give. But as we reach for our wallet, something stops us. A thought enters our mind. Suddenly, we are second-guessing ourselves. We stop reaching for the wallet and, instead, lean over to the person sitting next to us.
“Man, I just remembered that I don’t have any cash on me. I’ll have to give later.”
Neither part of the statement is true, but it allows us to save face as the offering plate passes by.
What stopped us from generosity? What caused us to pause and reconsider? Often, it can boil down to this—fear.
Consider a few ways fear hurts our generosity:
- We fear that we will not have enough of a safety net. 2008 taught us that the world is unpredictable. So our minds are often filled with “what ifs” when it comes to money. What if the market takes another downturn? What if I lose my job? The list of “what ifs” is almost never ending. And we often turn to our money to make us feel safe. Certainly, we should have 3 to 6 months set aside. But sometimes fear causes us to misplace our trust in money rather than God.
- We fear that we will not have enough for the future. We fear that we will not have enough for college or retirement. And to a certain degree, we should be concerned about these things. But not to the extent to where the fear drives us to be hoarders rather than conduits through which God’s generosity flows.
- We fear that we will not be able to enjoy our life. We want to eat out. We want to travel. We want a nice car. On their own, none of these things are bad. But they become bad when we let the fear of missing out on these things hinder our generosity. We don’t trust that God has even better things in store for us. So we try to do and experience as much as we can in this lifetime, as if eternity does not really exist.
- We fear that we will be taken advantage of. None of us want to be fooled. And so if we are presented with an opportunity to give, we are flooded with skepticism. “Do they really need my money?” And so to avoid being duped, we avoid giving.
- We fear that the recipient will not use the gift wisely. Even when we know that the recipient’s intentions are good, we don’t believe they will use the funds well. This type of fear prevents many from giving to their local church. They like their pastors. They just don’t trust their ability to manage money well.
Ultimately, we fear because we do not trust. We do not trust that God is who He says He is and what He promises us. We do not trust that God is the owner of everything, that resources are not scarce, but abundant. And we do not trust that God will use His resources to take care of us.
Fear hurts our generosity. It causes us to miss out on the joy that comes along with living generously.
Today, consider how fear may be holding you back from diving into the generous life.