Matthew 6 contains some of the most soaring and beautiful language in the gospels. Jesus describes the birds of the air who flit in perfect freedom and the lilies of the field that blaze out in brilliant color every spring. We can picture these metaphors like Impressionist paintings, with soft light and solid brushstrokes. What Jesus describes is a testimony to the lavishness of God’s love and provision for his creation. Jesus asks us to look at them and marvel at how much more God must then love us.
But for most of us, it’s also a tough passage. We read all of this and we feel like we are on the outside looking in. A life without anxiety? Without the constant feeling of needing to clutch at every opportunity? Every moment? The passage moves pretty quickly from Impressionist painting to total fantasy. That’s just not the world we live in.
As I preached on Sunday, none of us are exempt from the temptation to the idolatry of our money and our possessions. It doesn’t always come (in fact, it rarely comes) as some obvious, over-the-top call to luxury and excess. More often, the temptation to place our hope in our finances happens when we see our budget tighten, our expenses growing, and at some point we come to clutch at what we have as if that’s what’s keeping us afloat.
The call to give faithfully to the church is the call to resist broken narratives about who we are and what our possessions can do for us. Giving is counterformational; it forms us in a pattern of holiness that draws us toward Christ and away from ourselves. When we give, we shed light on some dusty truths about how this universe was put together. We find ourselves swept up in stories bigger than ourselves—stories of God’s faithfulness and God’s loving movement toward his creation.
I mentioned this on Sunday, but there will be time over the next few weeks to talk about what it would look like for you and your family to follow this call to give intentionally, faithfully, and sacrificially. But in the light of the overwhelming need in our lives and the overwhelming testimony of scripture, there is nothing stopping us from taking a first step today—right now. Set up a regular offering to Restoration. For now, don’t sweat the amount; find a baseline that you know can work for you right now. The important thing is to make a start.
Below, you can see a simple video tutorial for how you can give online using a card or directly through a checking account. It’s incredibly easy, totally secure, and simple to adjust over time. You may personally love that guilty feeling you get on Sundays when you realize you forgot your checkbook again. You may really like trying to keep track of one more thing in your life. If so, carry on.
As for me and my house, though, setting up a regular offering to Restoration has created a firm link between our intention and our action. We don’t have to mess around with any small annoyances (“Honey, did we already give this month?”) or big temptations (“Do you know what keeping this money could do for us?”).
The first step to a life of radical generosity probably isn’t anything radical at all. It’s just this little nudge you build into your life that will start work on you over time, opening your eyes to the glory of God’s goodness and the invitation he offers us to join his work.