January is an odd time to write about giving. Many people are dealing with the consequences of overspending after giving extravagant gifts for Christmas. Charities concentrate their appeals in the last month of the year since Christmas is associated with goodwill and concern for the less fortunate. It doesn’t hurt that gifts given before the end of the year have tax benefits for the donors. What’s given in December can be recouped, to a certain degree, when income tax returns are filed a few months later.
But what if we want to be counter-cultural in our giving? What might that look like? How would it set us apart as followers of Jesus in a world of selfishness?
Counter-cultural giving begins with the heart. It is not about amounts. A common excuse for not giving is that we cannot afford to give. Our personal expenses are great and our incomes too small. What if there isn’t enough to take me to the end of the month?
Jesus startled his followers (and us today!) by suggesting that a poor widow who gave an offering of two copper coins gave more than the wealthy because she gave all she had. When we give to God, having faith that he will provide for us, it has a powerful effect. It is something my family has experienced again and again. When my husband went back to school eight years ago, we had to cash in some of our retirement savings in order to pay our bills. We considered this our income and continued to tithe (give 10%) to God up front. We never lacked the things we needed.