Have you ever considered creating a blessing budget?
I've been in a giving mood for several months now and don't want it to stop. Perhaps it's the time of year.
Christmas brings out the best in humanity. God gave His best to us in Jesus and we work extra hard at giving during the Christmas season.
We are often busy baking cookies to give to neighbors, participating in Secret Santa activities on the job, and finding the perfect gift for those we love. During this season, we fully embrace the words of Jesus: “It's more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
Have you ever considered taking your giving to the next level?
Is it possible to build so much momentum that we radically give all year long? There are so many situations and circumstances what would be the best approach? Is it possible to actually build a blessing budget? I am persuaded that it can be done and have a few suggestions to get this giving party started!
First Things First: Giving Is A Personal Spiritual Activity
Giving is an extremely personal spiritual activity.
“So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
I have some great news for you. The giving in these situations is decided between you and God.
If you're feeling coerced or guilted then I would recommend tapping the brakes.
Giving should be exhilarating not excruciating. The amounts are irrelevant so long as we're obeying God. I've often felt the pleasure of God after paying for the car behind me at Chick-fil-A for only $3.97. Obedience is better than sacrifice.
Next year I encourage us all to increase our level of intentionality in the area of giving.
Without further ado.
Blessing Budget Idea #1—Parents
Honor your father and your mother (Exodus 20:12). The fifth commandment is the first with a promise attached to it. How does honoring our parents apply to money? The word “honor” is described as “weighty” and “heavy” and does not imply that we're simply to do what our parents tell us to do. We're to honor them by weighing them down—you guessed it—with material blessing.
Many of us are known as the Sandwich Generation. We're often attempting to get our children into college and paying for our parent's retirement shortfalls. I can totally relate and I realize that it can be challenging. If that is the limit of what you can do for your parents there is no shame at all. If, however, more can be done I encourage you to do so. Honoring our parents pleases God.
Get out your calendar for next year. Pick a day or two to honor your parents. My in-laws are older and are pretty much homebound due to illness. We live in different states and do our best to see them as much as possible. Towards the end of last summer we treated them to Culver's (about $35 total) and took them to the bluff in Lake Michigan. Dad was able to see Lake Michigan and get some fresh air. It was a very inexpensive blessing—but he was blessed.
Blessing Budget Idea #2—Church Family
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers (Galatians 6:10). I hope that your calendar is still near by. It's time to schedule and budget another time of blessing. This time you're going to knock the socks off of someone at your church. This could take some time of prayer to identify the correct person, so don't delay!
I'm fully persuaded that we are blessed to be a blessing. God trusts us to manage His financial resources and we need to have open ears when it's time to give and to whom. I don't like to use the phrase, “you can't out give God” but I believe the more we obey Him the more He trusts us to give as He desires. He will continue funneling money to us because we are obedient and hold His money with an open hand.
I encourage you to not be moved by what you see. Listen to God and allow Him to direct your steps. God made a dire warning when He stated that man looks at the outward appearance (I Samuel 16:7). Looks can be deceiving. I know an extremely poor family that looks as though they don't have any needs. I also know very wealthy people that dress and live well below their income. God knows there situation as well as your situation. Have ears to hear and the courage to obey Him. He will direct your steps and lead you to the right person or family to bless.
Blessing Budget Idea #3—Hungry
For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink (Matthew 25:35). Giving food to the less fortunate is an easy thing to do. Every decent sized city has a food bank or temporary shelter for men and women. These places are always in need. They are often inundated with extra help around Thanksgiving to Christmas but need help and donations all year long.
Log on to their website and see where the need is. If you're able to purchase food or other items do it. Make a cash donation if that is something you can do. If you are unable to do those find out when they could use an extra hand unloading trucks or packing boxes. The need is great.
My local church has partnered with a local shelter. We collect different items throughout the month and it's called One Minute Mission. One month we provide cough drops and another it might be toothpaste. Often the need is travel size items that cost around $1.00. If 25-30 families in your church did the same I am sure your local shelter would love to partner with your church family.
Blessing Budget Idea #4—The Less Fortunate
Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord and He will reward them for what they have done (Proverbs 19:17). There is a story about a little boy on a beach in Australia tossing starfish back into the water. An older gentleman saw the young boy and noticed there were thousands of starfish that were left behind after the tide. He walked over to the boy and said, “There are thousands of starfish and you cannot get them all back into the water. It's not going to make a difference.” The boy stooped down, picked up another, and tossed it back into the ocean and said, “It made a difference to that one.”
Poverty will never be eradicated until we're in heaven. Jesus stated plainly that we would always have the poor. It's our responsibility, however, to listen for His direction and help where we are able. My mom raised four boys alone. There were times when we didn't have food and other times when we didn't have electricity and sometimes we didn't have water. We all now have a soft spot for single moms. Guess where we enjoy giving?
We know that some will never make it financially and others are gaming the system. That's really none of our business. When God says to give we give. God is the one that can change hearts and alter destinies. The money belongs to Him and we're simply the manager of His resources. Encouragement is oxygen to the soul and poverty can create hopeless situations. I'd rather be part of the solution than be a skeptical naysayer that tight-fists every dollar.
Blessing Budget Idea #5—Your Neighbors
And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39). We're connected virtually to thousands but few of us know our neighbors. Fortunately, my wife is extremely social. In each home we have lived in she has become friends with all of our neighbors. Knowing your neighbors makes life much better for all parties involved. Blessing a neighbor is an easy thing to accomplish.
Be the blessing initiator on your block or in your building. Do something special, and out of the blue, for your neighbors surrounding you. If you have houses beside, behind, and in front bake them some cookies. We make sticky toffee pudding every year for our neighbors. It's a huge blessing to them. Trust me, you will not have much competition in this blessing arena.
Be the salt & light in your neighborhood or building! People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.
A New Year!
Another year is just around the corner. I believe that we all can select five different days to be a blessing in the New Year and budget accordingly.
We're going to honor our parents, bless a church member or family, assist with the hungry in our community, bless the less fortunate, and love our neighbor. We can do it!
Let's make this the year of blessing!