I’m convinced that when all of the five previous holy currencies we’ve discussed are flowing and we are alive spiritually, that money will flow as simply one of the links of exchanges. Church members will give when they realize how church ministries have fostered wellness for them and their families. When there are strong relationships and mutual trust among our members, where truth events continue to surface issues or needs and then are adequately addressed, faithful and generous stewardship happens naturally. Still it is important to think further about our last holy currency, money, as many of us struggle with this one. In fact Jesus spoke more about money than any other issue so we need to put it into perspective.
I don’t know about you but some biblical stories really trouble me. Take for instance the account of the widow’s mite as told by Jesus in Luke 21:1-4. “As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. "I tell you the truth," he said, "this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on."
So how do I know if my giving measures up to God’s expectations? Would Jesus praise my offerings and gifts the same way as this widow? Here is a poor woman, at the bottom of the social scale, whose gift is praised above the more affluent majority, even though their gifts were objectively much greater. Jesus makes clear, however, that the bottom line for measuring giving is not the amount of money given but rather the devotion of the heart and the cost to the giver. What does my giving really cost me is the operative question for each of us.
I once heard a preacher say, “Give until it hurts! And then give some more until it starts to feel good.” Does that sound like a bit of a stretch or emotional arm twisting? Well, compare that preacher’s claim to the Apostle Paul’s example of generous giving by Macedonia believers. “Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.” (2 Corinthians 8:2-3). Again, the question to each of us when it comes to considering our giving it is not the amount we give but the personal cost to us. If we hardly notice what we’ve given, I suspect that we have not really grasped yet the principle of sacrificial giving. Paul would graciously encourage us, “But just as you excel in everything--in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us --see that you also excel in this grace of giving.” (2 Corinthians 8:7).