When I was young, my parents taught me to manage my money with three envelopes: 50 percent went into the “save” envelope, 40 percent into “spend,” and 10 percent for “tithe.” I remember receiving a $1 allowance, which meant 10 cents went to church every week. But instead of breaking my dollar bill, I would often collect loose change for my tithe. Ever the money-conscious child, I felt proud when I could find 10 pennies for the offering plate. Yikes.
While this memory makes me laugh, I am convicted that at times, I still give out of practicality or convenience rather than generosity. When it comes to giving, it’s much easier for me to be dutiful (for instance, calculating and tithing exactly 10 percent of my income) than openhanded and surrendered (knowing that God could ask me for anything, since all of my resources are His to begin with).
Should we give rationally?
During His time on earth, Jesus made it clear what kind of stewardship He was looking for in His followers. While also subject to human limitations, He served others with a spirit of willingness and overflowing abundance. And upon receiving an unexpected anointing in Matthew 26, Jesus’ response revealed what He truly valued:
“While Jesus was in Bethany … a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head. …
When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. ‘Why this waste?’ they asked. ‘This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.’ Aware of this, Jesus said to them, ‘Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me.” -Matthew 26:6-11
It’s easy for me to relate to the disciples’ indignation: This perfume was equivalent to a year’s wages! Woah, let’s slow down for a second here, Jesus. Are you sure this is rational? Yet “rational” by our earth-bound standards isn’t what Jesus seeks. Though the woman, Mary Magdalene, seems to act irresponsibly, her recklessness shows that she gets it. She understands how incredibly valuable Jesus is. Jesus had transformed the life and heart of Mary Magdalene, a former prostitute, and her gratitude flows out like the pure oil from the alabaster jar.
Generosity that doesn’t make sense
Jesus is infinitely more valuable than anything on this earth. May we never forget how rich we are in Him! He calls us to give in ways that don’t make sense to the world and to trust His provision. Unlike us, our God does not have any limits—He offers us a gracious, endless love that we can always have and give away freely. How can we share that love with our neighbors this season, being openhanded with our time, our money, our gifts, and the joy and hope we have in Christ?
I don’t want to find myself searching for pennies for the offering plate so I can keep my dollar bill. Jesus is worthy of my sacrifice. Just like Mary Magdalene, I want to look at the extravagance of Christ’s love and give without holding back—just as He did for me.
In Scripture, when God’s people approach Him with their dreams and desires, He sometimes answers with an unexpected question: “What do you have in your hands?” In this video, discover how God invites His people to play an active role in restoring brokenness.