Giving is a difficult topic for many, myself included. Prior to marrying my wife, my giving was sporadic, minimal, and mostly non-existent. My wife, on the other hand, was giving beyond measure. At first I was terrified and intimidated by her generosity. What about my hobbies? What about my expenses and bills? Why would I ever give when I have things I still want to accomplish and do?
Well, during the dating phase of our relationship, my wife told me that choosing not to give was not an option. If we were marrying one another, then giving would be a central part of our lives together. She gave me an ultimatum of sorts. I wanted to marry her, and if this was a key (and very biblical) part of what she wanted our marriage to embody, I had to get ready.
A Reluctant Giver
It would be nice to say that I immediately prayed about her request, repented of my lack of generosity, and was convicted by the Holy Spirit to give abundantly. But that would be a lie. I did start giving to the church pretty quickly because I knew it was a biblical mandate, but I gave reluctantly. I just didn’t feel eager or ready to give, and I sometimes wondered, will I ever be ready?
As with many things in our lives, my readiness took time. I was faithful to my wife’s wishes and the biblical instruction to give, yet something inside me resisted. I saw God honoring our giving, but still, that deep-seated desire for control continued to rear its head. My giving on the outside did not reflect my selfish desires within, which in turn did not fully reflect God’s desires. Little did I know, God would transform my desire for control in another way, rather than directly attacking my internal reluctance to give.
A Newfound Passion
One day a few years ago, my wife and I took a road trip to a little town called Eupora, Mississippi, to visit my grandmother. We were tasked to help her move from her house into an elderly care facility. This transitional period was a very difficult time for my grandmother. She lived in her house through the birth of her children, through their marriages, through the death of her husband, and through the births and marriages of her grandchildren. She was exiting a major chapter in the story of her life. Her heartache was palpable.
During this time of transition, I asked God to give me a Christlikeness that reflected my grandmother’s. If I were forced to choose one person who looks most like Christ out of anyone in the world, she would be that choice. A major part of her story is prayer. If you looked up “prayer warrior” on Google her name and picture would be at the top of the search results. So I asked God to make me a prayer warrior like her.
Much like giving, praying did not just become easy, but God planted in me a desire to learn about prayer. The desire was tiny at first, like a mustard seed. However, through life experiences, learning, and practice, God has turned me into a man of prayer over the past few years. While I still have a lot of growing to do, God has made prayer an inextricable part of my life.
My day-to-day life is filled with prayer. I read about prayer. I’ve altered my life to make room for prayer. I teach classes on prayer and am part of prayer teams. I ready myself for prayer and to be used by the Lord through being self-controlled and sober-minded like it says in 1 Peter 4:7. Prayer, which at one time was a challenge, is now a passion.
Prayer, Giving, and Readiness
Through my growing understanding of prayer, God slowly revealed to me that giving requires preparation. Much like I prepare for life by relying on God through prayer, I must prepare for generosity by relying on God’s transforming power. As Christians, we bring to bear the kingdom of heaven on the kingdom of earth through prayer. The same is true for giving. Paul mentions in 2 Corinthians 8:11-12 that we must make ourselves ready and eager to give through faithfulness and preparation.
Prayer requires you to get ready while also simultaneously being the thing that makes you ready. Giving is identical to prayer in this way. It is both a fruit of Christian growth and a means of Christian growth. We give because it’s part of our calling, and because it shows the rest of the world what the kingdom of heaven looks like.
Let us be a people of prayer.
Let us be a people who give generously.
Let us be a people who ask for God’s kingdom to come.
Let us be a people through whom He will establish His will on earth as it is in heaven.
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