Dare to be Different
It is amazing how much social norms and cultural expectations push us as Americans to “follow the leader.” There is often that uneasy, perhaps subtle but ever-present, tension that we must conform to the patterns of this world in order to most easily fit in among our neighbors, friends, and peers. Secular media would seek to convince us that we need to follow the trends of the populace so we do not come across as being extreme in our beliefs or practices.
A very similar scenario must have been happening in the world in which Jesus came to live among us. The Apostle Paul, as he writes to the Christ-followers in Rome, says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” These folks were undeniably bombarded with the thoughts and practices of their day. However, Paul admonishes them to live differently. He tells them that the right way for them to confront the world of their day was to be different. They were not to follow the flow of everyone else’s way of thinking and being. They were called to be set apart in having a mindset that was radically different from that of the overwhelming masses of society.
I would propose that the consistent practice of a generosity lifestyle in our modern day culture is noticeably different from the way the multitudes choose to live their daily existence. It is alarming when we hear the statistics about giving in the church indicating that a significant percentage of those who attend church regularly give very little or nothing to Kingdom work. Those who tithe their income or give beyond this biblical threshold are a clear minority in the church. It is surprisingly easy to order our finances as Christians in a way that mirrors the practices of our secular culture. This is spending on ourselves and our own whims without even giving God consideration in the process. Conforming to a self-serving lifestyle is much simpler than confronting our responsibility to support the Lord’s work. The challenge before us is to dare to be different from the majority in our giving practices. We don’t have to “follow the crowd” when they choose to spend their money in ways that leave God out of the equation.
In a recent webinar, I heard a formula for the use of our resources that is guaranteed to provide a healthy, God-honoring lifestyle. Here it is: Giving first honors God, saving second builds wealth and living on the rest leads to contentment. Those who would follow this formula clearly fall into the category of those who are not afraid to be different because this is certainly not the design of the world. Let me encourage all of us to dare to be different when it comes to living a generosity lifestyle. It is the all-around healthiest way to live. Dare to be different!
- What changes might you need to consider in your personal finances?
- What is your biggest challenge in honoring God with your firstfruits?
- When will you step out in faith?
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