Have you ever been envious of people who seem to have so much money to give away? You know, those people who give expensive presents, generous donations to churches or missionaries, and can afford to pick up the check every time they go out to eat with others. As a newlywed, I get jealous of people like that quickly. I think things like, “If I had more, I’d be more of a blessing to other people.” While it is true that the more you have the more you can (and should) give, giving doesn’t have to start with having a lot of money. In fact, I believe in giving while in debt.
Remember the widow in the Bible who was destitute, but gave her last two coins? The account is in Luke 21:1-4.
“Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, ‘Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.’”
This woman didn’t have a lot, she may have even had debts, we aren’t told. But, she gave all that she had. This is such a rebuke to me as a millennial in a world of “stuff.” Everywhere you look there is “stuff.” You’re supposed to have the latest technology “stuff,” the latest clothing “stuff,” the car “stuff,” the hair and makeup “stuff,” the household décor “stuff,” the kitchen “stuff,” and of course your kids and your dog need a lot of “stuff” to make them happy too. Really people? Why do we buy the lies of marketing telling us that if our house isn’t full of extra junk then we won’t feel happy? Forget being happy, we probably can’t even SURVIVE without our “stuff” in our lives!
To be honest, we laugh and say that we aren’t materialistic, but we are. Want to test that? Go put your phone away for a week. Tell yourself not to use your flat screen television, your makeup products, your second car, or your kitchen gadgets. We live in a world full of “stuff,” and I’m not saying that it’s all bad to have things. But, are we limiting our giving and perhaps keeping ourselves in debt longer because we are convinced that we need all of our stuff?
I’m preaching to myself here to when I say that we really need to evaluate where our money goes in light of what our mission in life is. What are your life goals? Some of my goals are to serve the Lord and follow Him completely and to show love and hope to people in my life whether they be friends, family, or “enemies.” If I’m living my life to love God and love others, where does that leave room for cutting out giving to buy myself everything I want. It doesn’t really even leave room for the excuses of, “Well it’s just not a good time for me to give anything to God right now.” Can I tell you a secret, the whole world already belongs to God anyway! He has absolute control over how much “stuff” He allows you to have.
Why do we find it hard to give? I think a lot of times we believe that God hasn’t allowed us to have enough money to give any away. I wonder what that widow was thinking when she put her last two coins into an offering basket. Clearly, she trusted the God that controls her world. Why don’t we? We honestly have so much. We’re so rich and our standard of living is so high compared to most of the world’s standards. This post is getting longer that I intended, but I just wanted to share a few closing thoughts about how you can be giving while in debt. I understand that some people have convictions about giving while in debt or not. I won’t really address those arguments here, except to say that God wants us to be faithful.
Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine. Proverbs 3:9-10
- Keep in mind that God is in control of what you have.
- Pray about it, and set aside a percentage of income that you believe would be appropriate for you. Perhaps you believe that is just a tithe right now, perhaps you honestly are convicted that God wants you to give more. Be reasonable, and make a commitment to the Lord regard giving to Him.
- Realize that God blesses those who are faithful in giving. He will meet your needs.
- Realize that what you truly “need” and what you want are different. You may have to give up some luxuries to continue making debt payments and to give. That’s okay.
- Realize that it is much more fulfilling to bless other people than to spoil yourself. While you’re in debt, you shouldn’t be spending every last penny on buying coffee for all your friends. However, sacrificing personally to bless others in little ways is incredibly fulfilling.
- Maintain balance. Don’t allow yourself to be on either extreme end of the spectrum. Hoarding everything, refusing to give anything to God’s ministry or to others will breed bitterness, frustration, and contempt for God and others. On the other hand, you are in debt. You do not have the luxury of donating thousands of dollars to missions or treating your coworkers at every lunch opportunity. You have to balance giving with saving and paying on debt in order to stay on track financially, and in order not to bury yourself deeper.
Giving while in debt is not an easy thing. It takes work, planning, sacrificing, and prayer to make choices and stick to them. From personal experience, I can say that my husband and I have been happy and taken care of throughout our debt journey even though we’ve been committed to tithing and offering the whole time. God has never failed to meet our needs and to bless us with extra. We can’t yet give like some we know who have had 20, 30, or 40 years of earning and saving under their belt, and that’s okay. Our goal is to continue to increase our giving year after year and to continue to remember that our faithful God will meet our needs no matter what.
If you’re interest in reading more about debt recovery, check out Debt Recovery: Step One.