In the Church, we hear a lot about receiving. We love to talk about the blessings of God and there is nothing wrong with that. The problem is, we tend to want to talk a lot about physical blessings and very little about spiritual blessings.
We do hear about giving within the Church but usually it consists of the pastor pleading (or commanding) the congregation to give more because there are needs. Have you ever noticed that those churches never seem to have enough? I mean, it seems like they have one financial crisis after another and I don't think it is always because someone is pocketing all the money. I have a suspicion as to why that is but I will get to that in a little while.
I am a firm believer that God provides His children with what they need when they need it. Did He not say that He cares for us just like He cares for the lilies of the field? Doesn't He care for the sparrows? How much more so will He care for us?
Therefore if God gives us what we need when we need it and we discover we do not have enough to cover our "needs" we can only come to one conclusion. We are not properly managing what God gives us. I will be the first to stand in line, raise my hand and say, "I am guilty as charged." When I look back over my life, I can clearly see how I mismanaged what God gave me. I would make impulsive decisions. I would try to scheme how I could do this now and pay later. Maybe I could even well... surely God would understand if I didn't give as much this week or perhaps didn't give at all right now. I would have more at the end of the month and I could make it up then. Yeah, that's what I could do after all, I needed this and that and...
Does any of this sound familiar? Then, someone comes along and tells us it is all good. We don't need to be concerned about not giving because that was a part of the Old Testament and not the New Testament! Whew! Now that we're under grace, we don't need to concern ourselves with giving. Whew! WHAT? Since when did God ever tell us that we are exempt from paying tithes and offerings? I have asked that question before but have never received an answer.
I don't know about you but the times I am looking for reasons NOT to give are the times when I realize that I am slipping and sliding in the wrong direction. If we have an issue with giving, than perhaps we need to figure out exactly why we would not want to give for you see, the heart that is following Christ is a giving heart.
Around the time I was put on a medical leave of absence in January 2011, my husband and I had already decided that we needed to take a class on finances and stewardship which was being offered through our church. We had come to recognize that it really did no good for God to provide for us if we were going to handle what He gave us foolishly. Indeed, because we did not listen very well, He allowed us to handle things our own way. We learned our lesson for awhile but then as many of us so often do we became self-confident and careless once again. Sigh...
I am very glad that even when we were hard-headed and foolish, God did not give up on us. This time, as our world came crashing down around us, fraught with uncertainty, unable to figure any way out... we listened. When we listen to God and do our best to be obedient, God honors that.
Over the past several years, my husband and I have hosted these same classes and tried to help other people who are struggling. For the most part, one by one these people find themselves eventually admitting that they have been careless with what God has given them. Most of the time they have no budget. Most of the time they believe they are handling credit well until they realize that if they were to lose their job tomorrow, they would not be able to pay their bills.
The number one thing you can do for yourself is to stop and honestly figure out exactly how much debt you have aside from your mortgage. That's the reality check. The second thing to do is figure out what your inflow and outflow is and create a budget. There are a lot of websites that can help you do this. These are the first steps in being a responsible steward and taking care of what God entrusts into your care.
Advice given from experience. I pray that God blesses the new financial management class you are taking by giving them ears that hear and hearts that are willing to see His truth.