Generosity

When It’s Hard to Give

In a season where money can feel tighter than ever, it can be extremely difficult to embrace generosity.In the following article, we’ll talk about the effects of financial stress on mental health; the surprising link between faith, money, and stress; Biblical foundations for generosity; and finally, practical strategies for being generous and becoming financially healthy when things are tough.

H1 What’s a Rich Text element?

H2 What’s a Rich Text element?

H3 What’s a Rich Text element?

H4 What’s a Rich Text element?

H5 What’s a Rich Text element?
H6 What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

H4 Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

H4 How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

  • List Item 1
  • List Item 2
  • List Item 3

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Most of us experience financial hardship at least once in our lives. The sudden loss of a job, unexpected medical bills, ongoing debt, or even the buildup of everyday expenses can result in seasons of financial stress for just about anybody. And the global pandemic has only exacerbated that reality. 

In 2020, over 114 million people lost their jobs. In October of 2021, over 25% of adults in the U.S. reported that it was difficult to pay for regular household expenses. Inflation certainly hasn’t helped this crisis, as the cost of living has increased quickly. From September 2020-September 2021 inflation was 4.4%; from October 2020-October 2021, inflation was 6.2%. 

In a season where money can feel tighter than ever, it can be extremely difficult to embrace generosity. The challenge for followers of Christ is that we’re not just called to be generous when we’re neck-deep in cash. We’re called to be generous with whatever we have. 

In the following article, we’ll talk about the effects of financial stress on mental health; the surprising link between faith, money, and stress; Biblical foundations for generosity; and finally, practical strategies for being generous and becoming financially healthy when things are tough. 

What Does Financial Hardship Do to Your Mental Health?

It should come as no surprise that financial hardship is directly linked with mental health problems. 

Anyone who has ever experienced a financial challenge–whether it’s a problem with cash flow, debt, or the rising cost of living–knows that worrying about money can cause anxiety, stress, and even depression. 

In fact, a study published by the National Library of Medicine showed that financial difficulty is associated with the development of mental health issues over time. In other words, even prior financial challenges can result in longer-term problems. 

The good news is that scientific studies also support the fact that having faith can help “buffer” the damage caused by finances on mental health. 

Another study published by the National Library of Medicine found that “religious attendance and the belief in an afterlife moderate the deleterious effects of financial hardship.” The study specifically recognized that the Christian belief in heavenly rewards and the construction of a spiritual identity helped mitigate the effects of financial hardship

The result of this study tells us that there’s a powerful link between God, your mental health, and finances. Looking to your faith when you feel like there’s “not enough” can actually be one of the most powerful ways to combat stress and anxiety associated with financial hardship. 

Ultimately, faith can give you the perspective, strategies, and strength you need to get back on your feet, persevere through hardship, and thrive. 

God, the Ultimate Provider

You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. (Psalm 145:16)

In the Bible, God is called Jehovah-jireh–”the Lord will provide.” 

This name is first used in Genesis 22:14, when God provides a ram for Abraham to sacrifice in place of his son. In response to Abraham’s radical act of obedience, God stepped in and provided for him. 

So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” (Genesis 22:14)

Throughout Scripture, we see God the Provider again and again. 

We see a God who provides for His people in the desert, when they are wandering and hungry (Exodus 16). We see a God who provides through the processes of nature and fruitfulness–giving food to both humans and animals (Psalm 104, 147). We see a God who provides wisdom to a man who makes a simple request–and receives both wealth and wisdom in return (1 Kings 4). And we see a God who provides all people with hope, healing, and transformation through the biggest gift of all, His Son (the Gospels). 

God is radically, abundantly, and over-the-top generous even when your balance is low, your income is dwindling, or there are new bills flowing in.

What Does the Bible Say About Scarcity?

The Bible certainly acknowledges scarcity. 

Jesus Himself said, “The poor you will always have with you” (Matthew 26:11). 

He also calls His followers to be generous in response to need. 

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:17-18)

Jesus doesn’t turn a blind eye to practical need. But He also promises blessing in return for generosity. 

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38)

This statement isn’t qualified by how much you have when you give. It’s qualified by the heart and the intent behind the act–”the measure you use.” 

The blessing you receive from generosity may not be a financial blessing. It may be the blessing of a renewed perspective, fresh joy, or freedom from financial stress. 

In Luke 21, Jesus commends one of the most radical acts of generosity of all. 

And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.” (Luke 21:1-4)

This woman’s sacrifice touched the heart of Jesus. He wasn’t moved by numbers. He was moved by a simple of act of worship and trust. 

What is a “Scarcity Mindset”?

When we’re experiencing an apparent lack or deficit in our finances, it can be easy to adopt a “scarcity mindset.”

WebMD defines a “scarcity mindset” as becoming “so obsessed with a lack of something — usually time or money — that you can’t seem to focus on anything else, no matter how hard you try.”

A scarcity mindset says that there is a limited amount of something, and that you must take what you can get or keep what you have. 

You can see why this sort of mindset could be destructive. And it doesn’t just apply to money.

A scarcity mindset can creep into your mentality concerning love, influence, significance, or even food. A scarcity mindset is what causes people to hoard their possessions, withhold from others, and at worst, steal or commit crime to get resources. 

The “symptoms” of a scarcity mindset can include:

  • Constant fear of losing money;
  • The inability to set goals or take risks;
  • Comparison with what others have; 
  • Ongoing worry, stress, or anxiety;
  • And the refusal to help others with what you have. 

A scarcity mindset doesn’t just apply to money. But the reason the Bible discusses money so frequently is that God knows that money can have a special hold on the way we think, operate, and feel. Money itself does not hold moral value, but the way we think about money does (1 Timothy 6:10). 

The only antidote to a scarcity mindset? A whole different mode of operation–an abundance mindset. 

What is an “Abundance Mindset”?

An “abundance mindset” is the opposite of a scarcity mindset. 

Forbes says that an “abundance mindset refers to the paradigm that there is plenty out there for everybody.” 

An abundance mindset allows followers of Christ to operate from a place of trust, creativity, and generosity, knowing that resources are limitless when it comes to God. People who have an abundance mindset can give freely, knowing that God is more than able to return and multiply provision. 

The signs of having an abundance mindset include:

  • Being generous with money, time, and resources;
  • Looking for new opportunities for growth; 
  • Practicing gratitude for what you have;
  • And the belief that good things are coming your way. 

An “abundance mindset” aligns more closely with the Bible. Scripture tells us not to obsess over how we will provide for ourselves, but instead focus on the abundance and goodness of a Creator who cares for us. 

A Biblical Perspective on Scarcity and Abundance

A scarcity mindset tells you that you don’t have enough to give, because you feel like you barely have enough for yourself. An abundance mindset says you can give out of a place of abundance, because your heavenly Father has provided everything you need. 

In Matthew 14, we see one of the ultimate examples of God’s miraculous provision in the face of apparent lack. 

As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

“Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children. (Matthew 14:15-21)

Jesus’ response to lack was thankfulness, faith, and a miracle. And though God may not always insert money directly into your bank account, He may provide through other means that are no less miraculous–a financial gift from a friend, a job opportunity, or a tax refund. 

The point is not that God is a cosmic “slot machine” that will respond to our generosity with an instant return. But He is a good Father who wants our full trust in Him, no matter what our circumstances look like. 

An abundance mindset allows us to give generously even in the face of lack. And ultimately, it helps us defeat some of the stress, anxiety, and fear that accompany financial hardship. 

Practical Strategies for Giving When it’s Tough

Generosity is a learned skill. It takes intentionality, especially when finances are tight. 

Here are five strategies to help you practice generosity, gain control of your finances, and lean into the provision of God at all times. 

1. Give first. 

And he commanded the people who lived in Jerusalem to give the portion due to the priests and the Levites, that they might give themselves to the Law of the Lord. As soon as the command was spread abroad, the people of Israel gave in abundance the firstfruits of grain, wine, oil, honey, and of all the produce of the field. And they brought in abundantly the tithe of everything. (2 Chronicles 31:4-5)

When you’re in a tough financial situation, giving might seem like the last thing that makes sense. 

But practicing intentional generosity as a foundation to generosity can ultimately help set you up for success. 

When you give one-tenth of your income, for example, you instantly create a framework for handling your finances. If you learn to set aside 10% of your income, you might set aside 30% for housing, 20% for food, and 40% for miscellaneous costs. 

When you give first, you also learn to honor God with your finances. Giving first is an act of worship and a step of faith; it practically demonstrates your faith in a God who can and will provide for your needs. 

2. Budget. 

As mentioned above, budgeting takes intentionality. In its simplest form, budgeting is a system for portioning out your resources and limiting your spending. 

But more importantly, setting specific budgets helps you gain control over your own resources. When you budget, you get to choose how you spend your money, and how generous you are. 

3. Avoid lifestyle creep. 

As we make more money, we tend to spend more money. Lifestyle creep happens when our budgets expand over time due to changes in lifestyle. Making an additional $20k per year doesn’t help you save more or give more when you adopt habits that eat up additional income. Prevent lifestyle creep by maintaining spending habits even when you make more money. 

4. Automate giving. 

Tithe.ly Giving allows you to set up recurring payments to your church, so that you don’t have to think twice about tithing or making a regular gift. Automation helps you build this habit into your life and cash flow so that giving becomes second nature. 

5. Prioritize giving.  

When generosity is a priority in your life, giving doesn’t feel like a sacrifice. Instead, it becomes a joyful act of worship and a spiritual practice that brings rewards that are practical, spiritual, and emotional.

You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God (2 Corinthians 9:11). 

Giving is About the Heart

God does not need your money. But He does want your affections. The point is not writing a big check every month to a church or charity; the point is that by giving, you’re reflecting a powerful attribute of your heavenly Father. 
To learn more about a Biblical perspective on generosity, click here.

podcast transcript

(Scroll for more)

H1 What’s a Rich Text element?

H2 What’s a Rich Text element?

H3 What’s a Rich Text element?

H4 What’s a Rich Text element?

H5 What’s a Rich Text element?
H6 What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

H4 Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

H4 How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

  • List Item 1
  • List Item 2
  • List Item 3

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Blog

When It’s Hard to Give

When It’s Hard to Give

In a season where money can feel tighter than ever, it can be extremely difficult to embrace generosity.In the following article, we’ll talk about the effects of financial stress on mental health; the surprising link between faith, money, and stress; Biblical foundations for generosity; and finally, practical strategies for being generous and becoming financially healthy when things are tough.

Show notes

Most of us experience financial hardship at least once in our lives. The sudden loss of a job, unexpected medical bills, ongoing debt, or even the buildup of everyday expenses can result in seasons of financial stress for just about anybody. And the global pandemic has only exacerbated that reality. 

In 2020, over 114 million people lost their jobs. In October of 2021, over 25% of adults in the U.S. reported that it was difficult to pay for regular household expenses. Inflation certainly hasn’t helped this crisis, as the cost of living has increased quickly. From September 2020-September 2021 inflation was 4.4%; from October 2020-October 2021, inflation was 6.2%. 

In a season where money can feel tighter than ever, it can be extremely difficult to embrace generosity. The challenge for followers of Christ is that we’re not just called to be generous when we’re neck-deep in cash. We’re called to be generous with whatever we have. 

In the following article, we’ll talk about the effects of financial stress on mental health; the surprising link between faith, money, and stress; Biblical foundations for generosity; and finally, practical strategies for being generous and becoming financially healthy when things are tough. 

What Does Financial Hardship Do to Your Mental Health?

It should come as no surprise that financial hardship is directly linked with mental health problems. 

Anyone who has ever experienced a financial challenge–whether it’s a problem with cash flow, debt, or the rising cost of living–knows that worrying about money can cause anxiety, stress, and even depression. 

In fact, a study published by the National Library of Medicine showed that financial difficulty is associated with the development of mental health issues over time. In other words, even prior financial challenges can result in longer-term problems. 

The good news is that scientific studies also support the fact that having faith can help “buffer” the damage caused by finances on mental health. 

Another study published by the National Library of Medicine found that “religious attendance and the belief in an afterlife moderate the deleterious effects of financial hardship.” The study specifically recognized that the Christian belief in heavenly rewards and the construction of a spiritual identity helped mitigate the effects of financial hardship

The result of this study tells us that there’s a powerful link between God, your mental health, and finances. Looking to your faith when you feel like there’s “not enough” can actually be one of the most powerful ways to combat stress and anxiety associated with financial hardship. 

Ultimately, faith can give you the perspective, strategies, and strength you need to get back on your feet, persevere through hardship, and thrive. 

God, the Ultimate Provider

You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. (Psalm 145:16)

In the Bible, God is called Jehovah-jireh–”the Lord will provide.” 

This name is first used in Genesis 22:14, when God provides a ram for Abraham to sacrifice in place of his son. In response to Abraham’s radical act of obedience, God stepped in and provided for him. 

So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” (Genesis 22:14)

Throughout Scripture, we see God the Provider again and again. 

We see a God who provides for His people in the desert, when they are wandering and hungry (Exodus 16). We see a God who provides through the processes of nature and fruitfulness–giving food to both humans and animals (Psalm 104, 147). We see a God who provides wisdom to a man who makes a simple request–and receives both wealth and wisdom in return (1 Kings 4). And we see a God who provides all people with hope, healing, and transformation through the biggest gift of all, His Son (the Gospels). 

God is radically, abundantly, and over-the-top generous even when your balance is low, your income is dwindling, or there are new bills flowing in.

What Does the Bible Say About Scarcity?

The Bible certainly acknowledges scarcity. 

Jesus Himself said, “The poor you will always have with you” (Matthew 26:11). 

He also calls His followers to be generous in response to need. 

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:17-18)

Jesus doesn’t turn a blind eye to practical need. But He also promises blessing in return for generosity. 

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38)

This statement isn’t qualified by how much you have when you give. It’s qualified by the heart and the intent behind the act–”the measure you use.” 

The blessing you receive from generosity may not be a financial blessing. It may be the blessing of a renewed perspective, fresh joy, or freedom from financial stress. 

In Luke 21, Jesus commends one of the most radical acts of generosity of all. 

And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.” (Luke 21:1-4)

This woman’s sacrifice touched the heart of Jesus. He wasn’t moved by numbers. He was moved by a simple of act of worship and trust. 

What is a “Scarcity Mindset”?

When we’re experiencing an apparent lack or deficit in our finances, it can be easy to adopt a “scarcity mindset.”

WebMD defines a “scarcity mindset” as becoming “so obsessed with a lack of something — usually time or money — that you can’t seem to focus on anything else, no matter how hard you try.”

A scarcity mindset says that there is a limited amount of something, and that you must take what you can get or keep what you have. 

You can see why this sort of mindset could be destructive. And it doesn’t just apply to money.

A scarcity mindset can creep into your mentality concerning love, influence, significance, or even food. A scarcity mindset is what causes people to hoard their possessions, withhold from others, and at worst, steal or commit crime to get resources. 

The “symptoms” of a scarcity mindset can include:

  • Constant fear of losing money;
  • The inability to set goals or take risks;
  • Comparison with what others have; 
  • Ongoing worry, stress, or anxiety;
  • And the refusal to help others with what you have. 

A scarcity mindset doesn’t just apply to money. But the reason the Bible discusses money so frequently is that God knows that money can have a special hold on the way we think, operate, and feel. Money itself does not hold moral value, but the way we think about money does (1 Timothy 6:10). 

The only antidote to a scarcity mindset? A whole different mode of operation–an abundance mindset. 

What is an “Abundance Mindset”?

An “abundance mindset” is the opposite of a scarcity mindset. 

Forbes says that an “abundance mindset refers to the paradigm that there is plenty out there for everybody.” 

An abundance mindset allows followers of Christ to operate from a place of trust, creativity, and generosity, knowing that resources are limitless when it comes to God. People who have an abundance mindset can give freely, knowing that God is more than able to return and multiply provision. 

The signs of having an abundance mindset include:

  • Being generous with money, time, and resources;
  • Looking for new opportunities for growth; 
  • Practicing gratitude for what you have;
  • And the belief that good things are coming your way. 

An “abundance mindset” aligns more closely with the Bible. Scripture tells us not to obsess over how we will provide for ourselves, but instead focus on the abundance and goodness of a Creator who cares for us. 

A Biblical Perspective on Scarcity and Abundance

A scarcity mindset tells you that you don’t have enough to give, because you feel like you barely have enough for yourself. An abundance mindset says you can give out of a place of abundance, because your heavenly Father has provided everything you need. 

In Matthew 14, we see one of the ultimate examples of God’s miraculous provision in the face of apparent lack. 

As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

“Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children. (Matthew 14:15-21)

Jesus’ response to lack was thankfulness, faith, and a miracle. And though God may not always insert money directly into your bank account, He may provide through other means that are no less miraculous–a financial gift from a friend, a job opportunity, or a tax refund. 

The point is not that God is a cosmic “slot machine” that will respond to our generosity with an instant return. But He is a good Father who wants our full trust in Him, no matter what our circumstances look like. 

An abundance mindset allows us to give generously even in the face of lack. And ultimately, it helps us defeat some of the stress, anxiety, and fear that accompany financial hardship. 

Practical Strategies for Giving When it’s Tough

Generosity is a learned skill. It takes intentionality, especially when finances are tight. 

Here are five strategies to help you practice generosity, gain control of your finances, and lean into the provision of God at all times. 

1. Give first. 

And he commanded the people who lived in Jerusalem to give the portion due to the priests and the Levites, that they might give themselves to the Law of the Lord. As soon as the command was spread abroad, the people of Israel gave in abundance the firstfruits of grain, wine, oil, honey, and of all the produce of the field. And they brought in abundantly the tithe of everything. (2 Chronicles 31:4-5)

When you’re in a tough financial situation, giving might seem like the last thing that makes sense. 

But practicing intentional generosity as a foundation to generosity can ultimately help set you up for success. 

When you give one-tenth of your income, for example, you instantly create a framework for handling your finances. If you learn to set aside 10% of your income, you might set aside 30% for housing, 20% for food, and 40% for miscellaneous costs. 

When you give first, you also learn to honor God with your finances. Giving first is an act of worship and a step of faith; it practically demonstrates your faith in a God who can and will provide for your needs. 

2. Budget. 

As mentioned above, budgeting takes intentionality. In its simplest form, budgeting is a system for portioning out your resources and limiting your spending. 

But more importantly, setting specific budgets helps you gain control over your own resources. When you budget, you get to choose how you spend your money, and how generous you are. 

3. Avoid lifestyle creep. 

As we make more money, we tend to spend more money. Lifestyle creep happens when our budgets expand over time due to changes in lifestyle. Making an additional $20k per year doesn’t help you save more or give more when you adopt habits that eat up additional income. Prevent lifestyle creep by maintaining spending habits even when you make more money. 

4. Automate giving. 

Tithe.ly Giving allows you to set up recurring payments to your church, so that you don’t have to think twice about tithing or making a regular gift. Automation helps you build this habit into your life and cash flow so that giving becomes second nature. 

5. Prioritize giving.  

When generosity is a priority in your life, giving doesn’t feel like a sacrifice. Instead, it becomes a joyful act of worship and a spiritual practice that brings rewards that are practical, spiritual, and emotional.

You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God (2 Corinthians 9:11). 

Giving is About the Heart

God does not need your money. But He does want your affections. The point is not writing a big check every month to a church or charity; the point is that by giving, you’re reflecting a powerful attribute of your heavenly Father. 
To learn more about a Biblical perspective on generosity, click here.

video transcript

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