By Tyler Sit
This chapter from Staying Awake: The Gospel for Changemakers (Chalice Press 2021) is reproduced here with permission.
Generosity is an informed giving. It’s not just an impulsive donation after a moving political ad, nor is it about scrounging around for change when someone launches another online fundraiser for their cause. Which would you rather receive—a gift someone ordered ahead with you in mind, wrapped in your favorite color, and gave to you with a sincere note, or a gift that someone found tumbling around their car trunk three minutes before the Christmas party?
Stewardship requires taking stock of what we have, then deciding what to do with that inventory based on the calling of liberative love. This is an especially important concept for people new to adulthood, which my church largely is, because previous to this we could just get by on giving based on what felt like an appropriate gift in the circumstances. “I feel like I give a lot,” people (including myself ) say. But is the belief that we give a lot based on actually giving a lot? Then, of course, there are people who have been socialized to give perpetually—particularly women of color—but who do not have the opportunity to make the active choice to practice generosity. Their surroundings are demanding so much from them that there isn’t enough for them to survive on themselves.
Involuntary generosity is extraction, not stewardship. Ultimately, however, the goal of being a Christian is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself ” (Luke 10:27). “All,” it would seem, was a particular concern for Jesus. The bright spotlight of “all” forces us to examine even the darkest corners of our lives and ask: Is this part of my life a reflection of God’s liberating love? Is it an act of love for my neighbor?If you don’t love God, the whole thing is spoiled. And the goal is to let the way we relate to money reflect each of these commitments.
• I am taking care of my body because it is delightful and beautiful. Also, if I don’t take care of my body, I will become a medical strain on the system and I won’t be able to show up well to my other work.
• I am giving up my subscription to this service because I believe God can do better things with this fifteen dollars a month than what I’m doing.
• I spend this much on groceries because if I eat at the corner store, it’s just pumping more sugar and salt into our community.
• I am tithing to the church a sacrificial amount of money because we won’t flourish as a community unless all of us give.
• I am kicking a few bucks into a giveaway jar each week so that when God shows me a chance to give big, I will be ready.
• I eat out at restaurants because I don’t know how to cook, but I will figure out a way to cook so I can use that money for something more loving.
• I feel loved by God and my community, and I can now sell the stuff that I bought when I didn’t feel that.
• I am putting this into savings because I know that my family would not be able to handle it if I had an emergency car repair. I have decided how big my emergency fund should be and will only grow it to that amount.
With enough intentionality, our budget can become a sacred song. No matter how little we have, we have the honor of discerning with God how to invest in the things we love and strive to love more. Whether or not we ever become rich, this is how we will live richly.
About the Author
Tyler Sit is the pastor of New City Church in South Minneapolis. He is the author of the recently released book, Staying Awake: The Gospel for Changemakers (Chalice Press).
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