A number of factors have recently worked together to really challenge me in the way I’m using my God-given gifts. First of all, we’re reading/discussing Francis Chan’s book The Forgotten God in our small group, and I was challenged by this part of chapter 4: “And like our Savior, who poured out His life and blood so we have reason to rejoice, we were made to lay down our lives and give until it hurts. We are most alive when we are loving and actively giving of ourselves because we were made to do these things. It is when we live like this that the Spirit of God moves and acts in and through us in ways that on our own we are not capable of.”
After realizing that I really could be doing more for Christ’s kingdom, but wondering what more I should be doing, I took a spiritual gifts assessment. Follow the link. All you have to do is answer a series of questions, and it will score you auto-magically and tell you your top three spiritual gifts.
(Ignore my many open tabs in that screenshot. It’s a perpetual problem for me!)
So, my top three: Giving, Administration, and Faith.
The fun part? You should see Luke’s results….
Before marriage, I often prayed that if I married, my husband and I would be more effective for Christ’s kingdom together than we were separately. In matching our spiritual gifts so closely, God answered that prayer! We can work together for Christ’s kingdom, using our gifts in unity. That’s so exciting to me.
So, our top gift is Giving (which I would call Generosity).
It’s interesting to look at our history in the area of giving. We began our marriage in lots of school debt, piled on some credit card and vehicle debt, and a big mortgage…and felt stuck. More was going out than coming in every month. But thanks to some really wise counsel, and education through Crown Financial Ministries and Financial Peace University…along with lots and lots of prayer and seeing God work wonders…we paid off our $70,000-ish of debt (all but the mortgage) in about three years.
During those three years, we experienced the generosity of brothers and sisters in Christ. The phrase “Jehovah Jireh,” which means “the God who provides,” became a much-used phrase in the Rumley house.
One example that sticks in my mind was one fall when Caleb was maybe three years old. He was our first boy, and I realized that we had very few (if any) long sleeve shirts for him to wear as the weather here in Michigan got colder. I knew we had a $0 clothing budget, and though I liked to shop thrift/garage sales, I was stressed about providing warm clothes for him.
I didn’t ask anyone about it. I prayed, and I waited.
And lo and behold, a woman named Liz showed up at church that next Sunday with a bag of clothes for Caleb. Can you guess what was in there? Of course. Long-sleeved shirts. I will never forget the way that God provided for us through the generosity of His people.
It was hard to be in debt, with no extra room in the budget. We wanted to give more financially, but we were stuck. (“The borrower is slave to the lender,” you know. -Prov. 22:7) So, while we gave our time and love, and our tithe out of each paycheck, it was our time of life to be the receivers of people’s generosity.
Now that we’re FREE from debt (Praise God!!!!), we love to give. We love being free to give – time, energy, love, and finances.
So I was excited when I came across this newly released book, I Like Giving by Brad Formsma. The author generously provided a copy for me to review, PLUS three copies to give away to my sweet readers! How fitting!
The book was a very easy read, because it’s comprised primarily of many different real-life stories of generosity. I don’t know about you, but I always find anecdotes easy to read, and easy to learn from as well.
The stories were challenging and motivating. I felt stirred to become more generous, and to look for unique opportunities to give. It’s always heartwarming to read stories of the way that generosity has changed lives.
However. There was one major hangup for me. While the author seems to be a Christian, this is most certainly NOT a theology of giving. There are no Scripture references to back up his points. There are brief references to faith, but nothing really overt.
I’m not saying that this book on giving necessarily needs to have the plan of salvation spelled out.
But I AM saying that the whole entire REASON for generosity is that “while we were still sinners” Christ did the most generous thing ever for us, his enemies. He DIED for us. It’s astonishing. The One who owns EVERYTHING actually GAVE UP everything and took on our sins so that we wouldn’t have to pay the price.
Yeesh, how can you miss that in a book about generosity?
One other thing: While I definitely believe that “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7), and we should give out of hearts of generosity, sometimes we give out of obedience and love for the body of Christ. Maybe I don’t always get an emotional jolt from writing our tithe check (ok, ok, we actually send it electronically from our bank, but stay with me), but I do it because I love Christ and His church.
Another reviewer said, “It would be great if everyone regularly gave stuff away at random on a regular basis. But giving systematically, with deliberation, planning, discernment, and direction can and should be a part of our giving as well.” I agree wholeheartedly!
Now, friends, it’s YOUR turn to read this book! Three lucky readers will get this book shipped / carried / driven to their door! Use the quick and easy Google form to enter below, and be sure to share it with your friends as well…Good luck!
Hey, and while you’re waiting around for the results of the giveaway (ending 5/14 at 11:59pm EST), tell me your favorite story of generosity in the comments!