We want our hearts to be ἀφελότης—free and unencumbered. If our hearts are not right with God in the area of our money, then our hearts just aren’t free. I know what it’s like to have a heart consumed with financial fear, stress, and chaos of not knowing how I was going to “make things work” when I was managing my money in my own wisdom and in my own strength. I also have known the total peace and joy that comes when I’m surrendered to God and putting Him first in the area of my money. I don’t think we ever “arrive” at a place where we have it all figured out and no longer have to submit our hearts to God when it comes to our money. It is a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly journey. But I do know this. I want my heart to be ἀφελότης. I don’t want to live stressed or fearful about money. I want the peace that comes from God, and I want that for all of you as well.
Last week we talked about the first P of giving—making giving a Priority. This week we will look at the second P—Percentage-based giving. Most people when they want to give to a cause or a need that someone has, pick an amount of money. “Hey, I hear so-and-so is really struggling. Maybe we should help them out. What do you think we should give? Maybe $100? Or $200?” Often times for one-off gifts like that, we do have to pick an amount. Nothing wrong with that.
But here’s the thing. When I pick an amount of money to give, I tend to feel good about myself, especially if the amount (in my mind) is “a lot.” I don’t know about you, but I remember those “amounts” of money I have given over the years. When I step up and am generous, even for good motives, I focus on myself and feel good about what I did. The focus is on me.
But God instructs His people in the Bible that when it comes time to give to Him, to pick a percentage, not an amount. In Malachi 3, God says, “’Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.’” The tithe is the ancient, Biblical command of bringing the first 10% of what God blesses you with back to God as an offering. Then in 1 Corinthians 16, the Apostle Paul instructs the church, “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income.” God wants us to pick a percentage to give, not an amount. When we pick an amount, we focus on how much we give. But when we pick a percentage, it forces us to focus on how much God has blessed us with. The focus is on the Giver of All Things, which is God.
I hope you will sit down with your family, or if you are single, maybe sit down with a trusted friend, and prayerfully discuss how much you plan to give to God. I urge you to follow God’s call and bring the whole tithe, which is 10%. But even if you don’t go for 10%, I hope you will pick a percentage. That way your giving will be tied to the Giver. This will put you on the path of having a heart that is free from financial stress, greed, stinginess, chaos, and fear. I urge you to go for it. God says, “Test me, and see if I won’t bless you!” Sounds like it’s worth a try to me!
Grace, Peace, and ἀφελότης,