Five Ps for Joyful Giving
The Bible tells us that God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7), but too often giving feels like an obligation–this can be just as true for pastors as for lay people. I believe there are many reasons why giving moves from joy to duty. Too often though it comes down to the reality that we haven’t been willing to give from a heart of love and surrender. Moving into this heart of love and surrender sometimes takes intentional work, but there is no greater joy than giving from a place of actual joy. Cameron Doolittle in his book, Joy, Giving provides an approachable path from duty to joy in our giving. Here are five Ps he offers to help us along the way:
- Purpose. Before we engage in any giving, we need to understand why we are giving. Only when we understand our reasons for giving, can we find real lasting joy in giving. Having an eternal mindset in our giving is the ultimate goal; it can move us from (sadly) giving up opportunities in this world when we give to experiencing the joy and longing for eternity in our giving. “[Giving is] about how to exchange something we’re losing for something we can never lose” (p. 26). How can you move your giving mindset from the temporal to the eternal? What motivates your giving?
- Principles. As counterintuitive as it is, developing some principles in our giving can actually bring us a lot more joy and freedom. We need to decide how to determine how much we keep and how much we give. First and foremost, it comes through a listening posture. “Our giving should be based on an ongoing conversation. That’s the joy: talking to your Father every day, about every transaction” (p. 30). When determining how much to give we can then filter it through four biblical lenses: enjoyment, contentment, fairness, and faith. “We should give enough that we need to rely on God and give Him opportunity to show His faithfulness” (p.44). What principles do you use to guide how much you will give? Does your giving ever require you to exercise faith?
- Passions. When determining how to give we need to be aware of God’s passions and the passions He has given us. However, it’s important to know that “the God of the universe wants to give you passions. The greatest joy comes when we look to our Father instead of ourselves, hear what He’s excited about, and then act on it” (p.69). We should always begin with God’s passion and allow that to disciple and lead us into new passions that are near to God’s heart. Where do you believe God wants you to use some of the resources He has entrusted to you? What passion of God burns most in you?
- Prayer. As you seek to align your giving with God’s passions, it’s important to spend time listening to God’s voice, asking questions such as, “God, what results do You hope come from the resources you’ve entrusted to me? God, what are the risks you want me to take with the resources you’ve entrusted to me?” (p.97). As we do this, we are seeking to proactively discern where God is leading us to give. Then, as we live a life of constant prayer, we are seeking to hear His voice and respond as He leads. Do you pray about the money you spend? Do you pray about the money you give?
- Partners. Finally, as we discover more and more joy in giving that is aligned with God’s heart, we enter into another kind of joy that comes from communal celebration. As we give, we develop deep relationships with those to whom we give and to those we give alongside of. Generosity turns friends into family. “In the Kingdom, generosity unites givers and recipients in a family of fellowship” (p.121). How have you seen generosity lead to a deep love for someone in your life? Who can you invite into your giving journey to deepen your relationship with them?
To learn more about what the Bible says about giving see the following resources:
Alcorn, Randy (2019). Giving is the Good Life: The Unexpected Path to Purpose and Joy. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale.
Doolittle, Cameron (2018). Joy Giving. Chattanooga, TN: Generosity Path.
Financial contributor: Michael Blue serves as the executive director and general counsel for The Ron Blue Institute for Financial Planning.
Executive editor: Russ Gunsalus
Curator of content: Dave Higle