By Brian Jacks
Marketplace Pastor of Christ Church
Congratulations! I’m excited you registered for The Generosity Journey. You’re not alone and we will all receive encouragement along the way. Though we are taking this journey together as a church, this journey is about money and money is real personal.
When is the last time you told someone other than your spouse, parents or a potential employer, how much you make? Or, when is the last time you told someone your net worth other than a banker who you were trying to convince to approve a loan? Let’s face it, we don’t talk about our financial details. Most of us see money as a very private matter. Since money is our personal business, our generosity journey will also be personal.
Each person and family has to decide for themselves what their personal generosity journey will entail. We each have to decide individually how much we will give to the Lord above what we traditionally give. We have to decide what sacrifices we will make. Here are a few thoughts as you make this generosity journey personal.
Whenever we go away on a trip, we take time to pack. We are careful to pack enough clothes and toiletries based on the length of the trip. We also plan for the travel. If it’s a plane ride, we purchase our tickets in advance and make arrangements to arrive at the airport early. If we’re driving, we make sure there is enough gas in the tank. Successful trips require intentional planning.
Similarly, our generosity journey requires forethought and intentionality. Proverbs 27:23 (NKJV) says, "Be diligent to know the conditions of your flocks, And attend to your herds". In those times, as herders, a family’s income and assets were based on the amount of livestock they owned. The Message translation goes so far as to say, "Know your sheep by name..."
We all have a responsibility to manage our financial lives just as herders manage their flocks. As the Message translation says to know your sheep by name, every dollar we receive should already have a name or destination on it in accordance with a spending plan or budget. Whether each dollar of income is designated for housing, food, giving or savings, we should know its purpose and destination.
Be intentional in managing finances. Have a plan for not just what you will give during this journey, but how you will make room financially over the 90 days and beyond. If you’d like information about creating and living on a spending plan, please visit the Christ Church Financial Empowerment Ministry webpage.
During this journey, remember as Christians it’s not easy making financial decisions by faith. But, we walk by faith every day. One example is that your living expenses are most likely based on your current income so we have to have faith that we will remain employed. Now, faith is not writing a check when you don’t have the funds to cover the payment. I had an old pastor that used to say, “Walk by faith and not by foolishness.”
We each have to determine how we will live by faith financially. My life’s generosity journey started after I accepted the Lord while living on campus. It was back in the early 1980s. Back then people dressed up to go to church. Men wore suits and ties. I didn’t have the proper attire to feel comfortable. I attended church anyway but I was very self-conscious. Then something happened. A brother in Christ that I had just met gave me his tie from around his neck. He later gave me shirts. That act of generosity changed my life forever. It was then that I decided that I was going to likewise be generous. I started to read all I could about money management and generosity.
I started following Matthew 6:19-21 literally, "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." Though I was in college living off an income based on a few hours of tutoring each week and an allowance from my father, by faith and with financial sacrifice, I gave above my tithe the amount of a shirt. Then an amount equal to pants. I started to build a heavenly wardrobe. I told people I was investing in heavenly treasure and I sought to be the best dressed in heaven.
Over these now-almost 40 years, my wife Alesia and I have traveled along our own personal generosity journey that started by giving an amount equal to a shirt. Our giving above our tithe grew as our income grew. But, we like to say our income grew because our giving grew. And, we are looking forward to giving even more as we join Christ Church during this Generosity Journey.
I recall teaching my son Christopher how to drive. He was tentative because as he drove he was too focused on looking at the ground immediately in front of him. I instructed him that he had to look further ahead. You can’t be a good driver with shortsightedness. Likewise, as we give during this journey, let’s not be shortsighted by just focusing on what we are giving. Let’s look beyond the gift. Let’s place our sights on how our giving will impact lives. How our giving will allow those that don’t know Christ to learn about this beautiful life we have as Christ followers. And, let us by faith believe our Lord that said, "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you (Luke 6:38)."
Again, congratulations in joining us on this Generosity Journey. As you make this journey personal, may the Lord pour out divine favor and financial resources on you so that, "You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God (2 Corinthians 9:11)."
Marketplace Pastor of Christ Church
Brian D. Jacks is the Marketplace Pastor and leader of the Financial Empowerment Ministry (FEM) at Christ Church in New Jersey. For more information about this ministry, please visit: http://ChristChurchUSA.org/FEM.