My wife Alison and I look at our giving at the turn of every year. But it’s not about a New Year resolution, it’s about a New Year review. We rarely make shiny new decisions and give anything special or drop particularly generous coinage into the next homeless paper cup. It usually involves investing some hours in planning our spending for the next year (I am looking at spreadsheets and she is wandering around the room adjusting the furniture whilst we’re thinking and talking).
It’s boring but it’s not. It is the same as last year (copy and paste) but it changes. It’s the main and the plain but it brings the greater change.
The fact that you subscribe to this email tells me that you’re already tending toward generosity in your life. And that tendency is probably more significant in changing your life than any New Year’s resolution dreamed up in that weird spaced-out zone around Christmas and New Year. Old orders are good orders and doing what you have always done well will produce the same good results they did before. The main and the plain produces great change.
Start with thinking about generosity. Fill your thoughts with good information: blogs, books, the Bible, friends and family. And you, dear reader, are already thinking, otherwise you wouldn’t be browsing this.
Thinking leads to prayer which opens up an incredibly helpful release as God guides you to the specific form of generosity for which he designed you. Alison and I have always given primarily to children’s causes (as well as church). This is what God called us to early on. He also designed us to offer hospitality. Knowing this, as a result of thinking and prayer, we are free to say no to other worthy causes and activities.
So thinking and prayer lead to action. What could you do? It could be giving money or it could be giving time or skills or influence or prayer (it might mean stopping something too). You may well be doing some or all of these things and I venture to suggest that they reveal what has been put on your heart, specifically your heart. A New Year’s resolution may be the least effective thing for you: instead check out what you do already. Does it resonate with who you are and how God made you? If so, it may be plain but it may also be the main.
Action stems from thinking and prayer, and in turn bring the greater change. We’re reflecting on generosity here so: if you’re thinking about money and your accompanying prayer leads you to give regularly to a certain cause, you will become a more generous person and your heart will entwine with the cause to which you give.
Jesus said that where your treasure is your heart will be too (Matthew 6:21). It’s a metaphor to ponder, and speaks volumes about the distraction and worrisome nature of material things. When you think and learn about generosity; when prayer leads you to turn that thinking into specific generous action; when your heart follows; your life will change.
Instead of clinging to the forlorn hope that a New Year’s resolution will change us and instead review the main and the plain of what we’ve been: “thinking about”, “praying into” and “acting upon”. Then I believe we will celebrate deep-seated, long-term and ongoing change in our hearts and lives.