This month we are gathering around the idea of ἀφελότης. When it comes to giving financially to God, we want to have hearts that are free, sincere, and unencumbered (see last week’s article). There are 3 P’s that describe how God wants us to give when are hearts are ἀφελότης: Priority, Percentage-based, and Progressive. First, we’ll look at making generosity a priority in our hearts.
Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
For most of my life, I read this teaching precisely backwards. When Jesus said, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” I thought it meant that if your heart was in the right place, then your finances would reflect that. But that’s actually the opposite of what Jesus said. He said that wherever you direct your money, your heart is also going to flow in that direction.
For instance, consider this hypothetical question. What are you more likely to actually have on your mind and be truly praying for? A mission trip from your church that you heard about in church and said you would pray for? Or a mission trip where you gave several thousand dollars so that a couple people you care about would be able to attend? Are you more likely to pray for foster children in Houston County, or for foster children that you went out shopping for so they would have their basic needs and a few “extras” as well? I say I will pray for lots of people and situations (and I do!), but my mind and heart tend to give energy to that which I’m investing my treasure.
It's not about working up warm, fuzzy feelings to “get your heart in the right place.” It’s about making a decision to make giving to God a priority. If you make God your top priority financially, your heart will
fall into place. Unless and until you do that, your heart is going to drift away from God to lesser things.
So here’s what normal Americans do. They spend first. Often they are paying bills for money they have already spent! They make sure their present needs (and wants) are met. That’s their priority. Then, if they have anything left over, they try to save. And then, occasionally, they give, maybe when asked or their emotions are stirred by a particular need. That’s what’s normal. By the way, “normal” in America
equals broke and self-centered!
This is what God invites you and me to do. Making giving a priority. Do it first. Don’t wait till you “feel like it.” Your heart doesn’t lead the way. Your heart follows once you get your priorities in order. Make a decision to put God first in the area of your money. Then save second, so you have something for your future and to take care of loved ones for whom you bear responsibility. Then live off the rest. I dare you to try it for 90 days and see what it does to your heart, not to mention your bank account.
Grace, Peace, and ἀφελότης,