I Choose to Worship

Giving is an act of worship. When we choose to give, we say with our actions "God, I acknowledge that you are my source and that you have abundantly provided for me." When we choose not to give, we display actions of doubt and deny the fact that God has blessed us. Whether it's $1 or $1,000,000, the fact that we're willing to sow it unto God speaks volumes about our faith and love for Him.

At one point, I used to get caught up in the size of the seed that I was sowing. In my own mind, I imagined that God was frowning upon the little $1 or $2 offerings that I had planned to sow above and beyond my regular tithe. Even though God hadn't said it, I felt like it wasn't good enough. I guess you could say it was more like self-inflicted shame. So instead of putting my ego aside, I decided to avoid the risk of the imaginary embarrassment that I had created in my mind by keeping the money to myself. And let me tell you, God surely convicted me!

2 Corinthians 9:10-11 says, "Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God."

By not sowing, I was saying that wasn't blessed, I was being selfish, and giving up an opportunity to worship God. And here I was, focused on a number. Wow! The word says that God not only supplies seed to the sower, but as you sow, he will also increase the amount that you have available to give. God knows how much you have to give, because he gave it to you! He will supply, but you have to fulfill the act of giving. It is the act that brings Him glory, not the size.

From that point on I decided that I was going to lay my ego aside and worship God. I may have started off with small seeds, but God has increased them over time. From the moment that I purposed in my heart to give, I have always had something to give. I put my faith in God, believing that he would supply and kept plowing ahead. Even in the midst of financial crises I still remained faithful, as did He. Don't let your ego or self-inflicted shame disrupt your opportunity to worship God. More than anything, God wants your heart, not your money. Acknowledge Him in all your ways, even with your giving. Choose to worship, and leave the numbers to God.

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

What's in it for me?

Sometimes we can be selfish, feeling that we're the ones toiling day in and day out for our paychecks, and can't understand why we have to just give money away. After all, we work hard to maintain the lifestyles that we've created! But I believe that God has designed giving in such a way that we both win. He's not some holy tax collector that's trying to take our money. Instead, he's a loving father that just wants to bless his children. The Bible says, in 2 Corinthians 9:6, "Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously." So basically, the more I give away, the more I'll get back in return, but if I'm OK with what I have as a result of giving sparingly, then why should I give more? If I have a home, food to eat, a job, a car, clothes...God has obviously provided the basic needs, so I'm good, right? WRONG!

I believe there are three reasons why God wants us to give:

1. Protection: Giving protects us. In Malachi 3:11, God promises to protect the fruits of our labor as a result of tithing. In other words, tithing is similar to paying an insurance premium. That's one insurance policy that I'm willing to put my trust in over all of the man-made options that we have. I also believe that giving protects our hearts. Matthew 6:24 tells us that we cannot serve both God and money. By giving, our hearts remain attached to God (the source), instead of becoming attached to money (the product).

2. Purpose: Giving is a part of fulfilling our purpose. Flat out, it takes money to do ministry. God blesses us so that we can be a blessing to others. He designed us to function as pipelines for Kingdom wealth. As soon as we stop giving, our pipelines become clogged, and the work of the Kingdom is drastically diminished. Giving is instrumental in seeking and saving the lost. You never know, even the smallest act of kindness could be the one very thing that will lead someone to Christ.

3. Promise: Giving grants us access to the promise of provision. Proverbs 11:24 says, "One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty." If we sow sparingly we'll reap sparingly, and if we sow generously we'll reap generously. The key to increase doesn't lie in continuously begging God for more, it lies in the stewardship of what we've already been given. Under God's system, we're able to give our way into abundance.

So if you currently aren't giving because you're wrestling with the whole "what's in it for me" question, I hope that after reading this, you will see that there is so much in store for you! Maybe you want to give, but don't feel as if you're in the financial position to do so. Go to God in prayer, be specific about who it is that you want to bless, and ask him to provide (2 Corinthians 9:10-11). If you're already a giver, perhaps you'll been inspired to kick it up a notch. Wherever you fall along the giving spectrum, know that you'll have more to gain in comparison to what you think you'll have to lose.

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

The 80/20 Rule of Financial Freedom

The Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, states that roughly 80% of effects come from 20% of the causes. You may have heard this term used in the business world to some effect that 20% of the people do 80% of the work, or 20% of sales come from 80% of the customers, etc. The actual numbers may turn out to be a little less or a little more, but you get the picture. Well, I want to show you how to apply that same principle to your finances. We want 20% of our income to do 80% of the work for us as we head towards financial freedom. The formula that I use is as follows: 10% tithe + 5% 401(k) + 5% savings = 20% (the remaining 80% is used for day-to-day operating expenses)

(To calculate your percentage, simply add the total dollars that you've contributed to each of those categories over the last month, divide it by your gross monthly income, and multiply that number by 100).

If you remember the S.I.N.G method, the above breakdown actually takes care of 75% of the process, which is pretty close to 80%! My tithe qualifies as Giving, the 401(k) contribution qualifies as Investing, and the direct savings takes care of...you guessed it,  the Savings. The strategy here is to have money accumulating for you as you continue to pay down your debts. That way you'll already have a head start when you're able to really focus on increasing your net worth. 

Now, I have heard other sources say that you should stop contributing to your 401(k) or stop giving/tithing until you're out of debt, but that's not the route that I've chosen (mind you, I've had a positive net worth for over a year now in spite of a mortgage and paying down school loans). However, you may find that my method isn't right for you at this time, and that's OK. I'm just sharing the practices that have helped me thus far.

No matter which road you decide to take, just pick one and get moving. The point is, you have to start somewhere. The sooner you start, the quicker you'll reach your goals. Once you reach the first goal, keep the momentum going until you get to the next one, and the next one, and so on. You can do it! Your financial freedom awaits!

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne