For the last few years, in January or just before, I’ve intentionally spent time asking God for a word that will characterise the coming year. I will grow in it, He will reveal new depths of it, together we’ll face challenges, and I’ll have to learn to fight for it. This year, my word is FAITHFUL and I love that it speaks both of God’s character, and my discipleship. It speaks of promise and trust, and new level of expectancy and a deeper understanding of God’s love for me. It challenges me to take steps of faith and to learn about how I can better follow God’s call on my life. Thanks for coming on the journey with me as God highlights different areas of my life and teaches me new lessons.
I’ve been a budgeter since January 2016 and it’s changed my life. I have an app for it, and each time I spend any money, I log it in the app and keep track of exactly how much I have left in each category, which gets a certain amount of money assigned to it at the beginning of each month. When I started, I read through the website (obviously) and they had some great principles that work for other areas of life too! For example, it’s a simple one, but they stress that our money is finite. We have a certain amount of it, and therefore, choices have to be made. If you overestimate how far your money will stretch, then you will always come up short. It encouraged me to arrange my money in line with my priorities; I never need to feel guilty about spending money on clothes if I know that I’ve already set aside the money for the essential bills.
The Bible talks a lot about money. I’ve learned that the surest way to be certain that it doesn’t have a grip your heart is to give it away. You will reap what you sow, and sowing generosity is the surest way to bring in the kingdom of God. Here are three key rules I always follow.
- My tithe is non-negotiable and taken from the full amount (not what I actually see in my account, but the total before tax is taken), and I always round it up to at least the nearest ten.
- The budget for charitable giving will always at least match my tithe; I support some charities with a monthly sum and have some left over for random giving through the month.
- I’ve always had a special category in my monthly budget called ‘treats for others’. It’s the only category I purposely make sure runs out each month (I aim for some of the others to roll over and grow!)
If you’re adding that up with me, you can see that at least 25% of my earnings are given away. Sounds kind of mad, but I promise you; since I have been living like this, I have always had more than enough.
Right now, I am living like the woman in 1 Kings 17. She did not have enough. When Elijah the prophet asked her for some food, she told him that she had enough to make herself and her son one more meal and then they were going to die. She had no plans for the future, no next steps, no viable source of income, no security. (I’m not quite in a place where I’m ready to die, don’t worry!) But I don’t have a steady income, I have jobs that I can’t rely on to give me regular hours, and I never know how much my paycheck will be. When the woman trusts Elijah and makes a meal for him first, she finds that her jars always have enough. It’s a miracle. I’m living it too. My budget seems much smaller than in previous years, and each category is tighter. But when I faithfully steward, ensuring that my generosity priorities remain on top, God always provides enough, and I am living a life that is bigger and more exciting than ever before. I’m sure He secretly tops up my budget categories somehow. I am living in the freedom of trusting his faithfulness.
Here’s my advice. If you feel even the smallest prompt to give away something valuable (be it money, or time, or a gift or talent you have): do it. Dare God to give you back abundantly more than you gave (and don’t expect it to be returned to you in the same form!) Give more than is necessary, and definitely more than is sensible. Pour all of it out and watch God fill your jars miraculously, one day at a time.