My wife and I have always supported missions as a regular part of our budget. This has been our life-style since the first year of our marriage. Even before we were married, as singles we supported missionaries because we had a desire to see the gospel go to the entire world.
Over the years, we have endeavored to find ways to increase our giving, and a few years ago I had a “great idea” of how we could accomplish it. My brainstorm was for our family to eat rice and beans for a whole month and give the balance of the money we would save on groceries to missionaries. We had visited South America a number of times on mission trips and enjoyed eating rice and beans as the main food staple while there. I thought it would be a great project for us to do as a family and would model a giving life-style for our children. It seemed like a profoundly spiritual idea to me.
When I shared this deeply spiritual idea with my wife, she gave me an incredulous look and replied, “You can eat rice and beans for a month, but I am not, and I am not going to try and get our children to do it.” Quickly realizing that my great idea was not meeting my wife’s approval, I remember piously thinking how unspiritual she was and giving up on the idea. As I look back on this embarrassing incident, I would probably have made a good Pharisee that day.
It only hit me a couple of years later how much the spirit of poverty had affected my thinking. I literally wanted to take food away from my wife and children so that we could give a few extra dollars to missions. Just what was wrong with this idea? I discovered this to be a form of poverty thinking. Let me explain why.
I didn’t believe that God could supply more for us so that we could give more. In my thinking, we were limited to my paycheck. I looked at the income we had and saw that as a fixed ceiling rather than believing God for more money. So I wanted to take food from my children’s mouths and give it to missions. What picture of God (the Father) does that give to my children? It shows them He is a stingy Father, who gives us just enough or barely enough to survive. This is not a biblically accurate picture of God. I realized it was not right for me to show my children this tainted portrayal of God.
Thank God for my wife who could see this was not an appropriate course of action. Although it seemed so spiritual at the time, I should have been raising my faith to lift the ceiling and believe for more—lots more—not just a few dollars to give to missions. The truth is, I don’t want to give $5 more a month to missions. I want to give $50 more a month or $500 more a month. This revelation has helped us to increase our giving significantly.
To be clear the Christian life is one of self-sacrifice and surrender to His Lordship and our children need to see that modeled before anything else. How we spend our finances is part of that and obedience to His direction is essential. If God is directing you to save some money out of your budget by sacrificing something, then do it wholeheartedly. However, maybe you want to pray about increasing your inflow so you can give significantly more.