My wife ordered checks this past week. You know, the perforated paper ones that come in a book. I hear they were super hip some time ago.
We had just finished this series called Treasure based on Jesus’ words in Matthew 6. Jesus says, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” I mean, It was an electric set of sermons. I got a charge out of them, at least.
Anyhow, after we’d finished this deeply spiritual reflection on how we invest our money, energy and resources, I asked my wife one evening if she felt differently about giving and finances. Her response can be summarized thusly:
And I said: Eh?
She said: Eh.
I was puzzled. I felt inspired as I thought about Treasure. It felt good to be honest about the fact that while I say I treasure God and relationships, my bank statement (not checkbook) and iCalendar say otherwise. It felt really good to confess that I’m hard-headed and hard-hearted about money, so much so that I’m set on serving two (and three and four and five) masters even though the Lord says I can’t. It felt especially good to realize that money is one of those things with which we have to do new things in order to believe new things. It felt awesome to imagine hearts following treasure back to God as we act out new giving commitments–to imagine all of us believing that life is about relationships. Period.
And she goes…Eh.
Then, it hit me.
I act out our giving commitment.
I submit our online gift to our church every month. I fill out the information. I designate where it will go. It hit me: She experiences our giving like any other debit from our account. Like a credit card bill. The insurance bill. A medical bill. A bill.
She sees it going out. She hasn’t had the opportunity to give it out.
Here I was talking four weeks about how we have to act our way into new beliefs with money, and I’ve been the one acting out a giving commitment for months and years. That’s what’s sparked and empowered me. Not the sermons. The sermons? Eh.
So my wife, being the soul sister that she is, is taking over the act of giving for awhile. She ordered checks. She’s going to bring one of those paper things to worship every Sunday. And when it’s right, she is going to walk to the back of the sanctuary and use her hands to put that piece of paper into the basket. As a gift to God. Not because she loves giving and believes it’s worth doing, to be honest. No, she’s trying to get who God is, and she believes God deserves our courage to try new things, even when they don’t make sense.
Look, I know Jesus says, “Whenever you give to the poor, don’t blow your trumpet as the hypocrites do…” so I hope this doesn’t sound like trumpet blowing. I’m just inspired about what somebody close to me is doing. In my mind, she’s trying to put giving in the context where it belongs: worship.
Giving is an act of worship, to me. It’s saying that God is worth giving yourself to. It’s an acknowledgment that God has given us everything–created us, redeems us and sustains us.
* * *
So…There’s this thing called #GivingTuesday (a colleague said “pound sign Giving Tuesday”, hehe). It’s a really cool online giving thing tomorrow. There are these other things called giving apps. Also online things. My wife is doing a paper thing for awhile. The point is that whether you go online or use paper to give, thanks for giving. Thanks for trying to give more, even when you’re not sure it’s doing anything or it’s worth it. Please keep on giving where you believe God’s redemptive mission in Jesus is on the move. Keep on, because giving says something so truly powerful.
It says: God, please receive what belongs to you and your children.
Who knows? Maybe that will show up on the memo line.