Overcoming Greed And Cultivating Generosity (Part 2)

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In part one of this blog, I shared some of the common mindsets that blind us to greed and hinder giving, while highlighting Biblical truths that help point us in the right direction (READ HERE).  However, generosity has a starting point - you will not just wake up one day suddenly more generous. So, in part two of this article I want to share a bit about my personal journey and offer some practical tips for how to walk this out. It has nothing to do with how much money we have, and everything to do with the posture of our hearts. When we begin to see as God sees and love as He loves, the things of this world begin to lose their appeal (Mark 8:35-36) and we start wanting to use our resources in different ways.

For years I felt God tugging at my heart to give more than just my tithe – I felt Him inviting me to partner with Him to use my life and resources in more eternal ways. But since my bills did not get any smaller, and my husband needed to be on the same page, I was not sure how to do this. Plus, I had a pretty frugal mentality, so I really needed to adapt a new mindset if I was going to start using my money differently.

The idea of giving more may have never crossed your mind . . . or maybe you have wrestled with some of the same questions as me; either way, this blog is not meant to pressure or guilt anyone into giving more. Rather, it is simply meant to share some issues I have worked through on the topic of giving, and maybe offer some ideas to consider or pray through.

1 – What if I can’t give 10%? Is it okay to start small?

Absolutely! God does not despise small beginnings (Zechariah 4:10).

The logic that says, ‘I can’t do everything, so I won’t do anything’ is straight from hell. - David Platt

Cutting back on even small luxuries (like Starbucks or Netflix) would allow us a greater margin to give. Five dollars a day may not sound like much, but it adds up to $1,825 a year.  Did you know (according to worldhelp.net) it only costs $40 to feed a starving child in Africa for an entire year?  So, sacrificing that cup of coffee just saved 45 children from starving . . . for an entire year.

In Isaiah 58:6-12, we are directed to fast IN ORDER TO give our food to the poor.  What if we actually did this? Even if we did not skip the meal, but took the money we would normally spend on a meal and gave that to someone in need? Together, we could end world hunger today.  

I had been wanting to give more for a while and finally decided I needed to just start somewhere, so I signed up to support a child through “Food For The Hungry.” I also decided if I could not give a lot of extra money away, then I would find other ways to help people. I started by giving away extra toys, clothes, or household items instead of donating them for a tax deduction.  I also made a point to take a friend or co-worker out to lunch when they seemed to need some extra encouragement . . . and a few times I even gave away a piece of jewelry or clothing after someone complemented me on it, just to bless them. My goal was to start LOOKING for ways to give so this would eventually become my natural default. It was hard initially, but once I got over my initial hesitation, it got easier in time.

2 – Is it ever a good idea to over-tip? What if I splurged more on people than things?

From a young age, I was taught how to bargain well and haggle a deal, and this certainly not always a bad thing. But before I do this now, I ask myself if that person really needs the money (or is worthy of that money).  My goal is no longer to get the cheapest price, but rather to honor that person and God through the process. There have even been a few occasions when I decided to pay the person more than they were asking. 

Last year I bought some sweetgrass crosses from an older black woman.  She was going to give me a deal since I was buying several of them, but it was in the middle of the increased racial tension in our country, and I had already been asking God what I could do to help bridge this divide.  I may not be able to change our nation, but I could extend extra kindness in my daily interactions with African Americans.  I told this woman she had a gift and that her crosses were beautiful, and I decided to pay her more than her asking price. And you know what? I left there with a full heart – much more joy than I would have had from “getting a deal.”

Around the same time, a young black man came to my house to detail my car. He was so kind and did an excellent job.  Against my typical bargain mindset, I felt prompted to give him a large tip and then found out he wanted to be a physician assistant like me - I ended up having the opportunity to even pray for him!  Another full-heart experience. 

I am now working on prioritizing blessing others over increasing my own comforts and luxuries - bigger tips, extra pay for my housekeeper, bonuses or gifts for employees to show appreciation, etc. Once I started doing this, I found it was a far more rewarding way to spend my money . . . even addictive.

3- If I am not tithing now, should I make this a priority? And do I have to give the whole tithe to my home church?

At the end of the day, it is THE church (body of Christ) we are called to support – so where is the need . . . and what is God leading you to do?

Tithing is one way we train our “giving” muscle. Contrary to popular belief, believers are not required to tithe 10% of their income; this is an Old Testament concept.  And the argument about tithing off of gross versus net is futile because it stems from the mentality, “how little can I get away with giving and still fulfill the rule?”  2 Corinthians 9:7 clarifies God’s directive for giving . . .

“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

For new-covenant Christians: the 10% model is only a starting point for our giving to God. It is a minimum standard that trains us how to be sacrificial.  But as we mature, we will find ourselves sacrificing much more than finances. All our provisions will find their way into His hands for His service. - Sean Bolz 

In the early Christian church, the believers did not give because it was mandatory, but rather to provide support to the church, relief of the poor, and advancement of the gospel. They gave sacrificially in faith, out of love, and as an act of worship.

The churches of Macedonia were under extreme persecution and desperately poor, yet they fully surrendered themselves to the Lord and gave extravagantly out of a longing to fulfill God’s pleasure. They urgently pleaded for the “privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people” (2 Corinthians 8:4) and simply trusted God to multiply the seed as they sowed it in faith. They knew they could not outgive God (Proverbs 19:17). This is actually the one thing He tells us we can test him on – He promises to provide for our needs and bless us when we honor Him with our giving.

“Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

Our giving (and really all our service to God) was never meant to be a mere response to rules - if we are cultivating our relationship with the Lord, these things should naturally flow from God’s love in our heart. 

First we dedicate our hearts to God, and THEN we give to God’s work as He directs us. THIS is the key to generous giving . . . and what distinguishes our giving from mere charity.

Why not pray about a starting point for your tithe and led God direct you in this decision? If your current budget does not allow you to start with 10%, then start with a lower amount and slowly build up the percentage over time.  And remember, God cares more about your heart’s desire and efforts to give than the actual numbers. As Mother Theresa said, “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into the giving.” 

“For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have” (2 Corinthians 8:12).

In his book "All In," Mark Batterson assures us, “The more you give away, the more you will enjoy what you have. If you give God the tithe, you’ll enjoy the 90 percent you keep 10 percent more. You’ll also discover that God can do more with 90 percent than you can do with 100 percent."

4- How can I give if I am in debt?

It is hard to give generously if we are hostage to credit card bills with high interest rates. But God desires us to be a lender not a borrower and He can help us do this if we are willing to make some changes and follow His lead. If you are struggling to get out of debt, there are financial advisors and courses that can give you the tools to obtain financial freedom.  Dave Ramsey and Crown are two reputable ones worth researching.

In the meantime, you can still work on cultivating a generous mindset by seeking ways to use your time, energy, and gifting to serve others – this is also a big component of generous giving.

5 – What if I paused before spending and asked Him if my extra money was meant to be FRUIT for me or SEED for others? 

God loves to give good gifts to His children, and He wants us to enjoy the fruit of our labors (which often extends beyond our basic necessities) . . . so it is NOT always bad to spend extra money on ourselves (Ecclesiastes 5:19). Please - read that again.  However, it is equally important to recognize when our spending IS displeasing to God because we are driven by “the love of money” (Hebrews 13:5, Ecclesiastes 5:10).

Godliness with contentment is great gain . . . those who want to be rich, however, fall into temptation and become ensnared by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. By craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. 1 Timothy 6:5-10

What if we simply developed the habit of asking God whether any extra money was fruit for us to enjoy or seed to pour into His kingdom? God may want to bless us with it . . . or maybe He entrusted us with “extra” for a greater purpose. Since it is not a black and white formula, we need His guidance to know the difference . . . however, I am convinced that if we seek His face and follow His voice of peace, we will cultivate discernment and discover His heart through the process.

6 –Should I consider putting a cap on my income? We are taught to invest well for retirement, but at some point, should kingdom investments outweigh our personal investments?

Did you know that earning $34,000 a year (which equates to $16.34 an hour) puts you in the top 1% of the wealth of the world and earning $70,000 a year puts you in the top 0.1% of wealth!? (REF) For most Americans, if they do not have extra to share, it is only because they have chosen to spend it on themselves.

Lack is relative depending on our reference point . . . our local neighbors or our worldwide ones.

Jesus warned the people to guard themselves against every form of greed and then told them the parable of the rich fool to put it in context, clearly depicting God’s displeasure at people storing up great excess just for themselves (Luke 12:13-21).  I have never thought that parable applied to me, but after learning of the statistics I just quoted, I am starting to question whether I fall into the category of the “rich fool.”

This may sound radical, but what if we picked a stopping point to the upgrades in our life and allotted anything beyond a certain point of need or comfort as “extra” to bless others? This is exactly what John Wesley did. “In 1731, Wesley determined to maintain his standard of living at the same level and give away everything above that threshold. At that time, with earnings of 30 pounds and living expenses at 28 pounds, he gave away two pounds. When his earnings increased to 60 pounds, he gave away 32. As they increased to 120 pounds, he continued to live on 28 and give away 92 pounds.” (REF)  

Wesley became known for his saying, What should rise is not the Christian’s standard of living, but his standard of giving.

David Green, founder of Hobby Lobby, is another good example. He has taken home the same salary for the last 11 years, even though earnings have increased. On average, he gives away 50% of the profits from his company to help others in need. (Read his story HERE)

And when Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, made a lot of money off his “Purpose Driven Life” book, he decided not to buy a bigger house.  Instead, he chose to reverse tithe, giving away 90% and keeping 10%.

I am convinced that our mindset on spending is shaped primarily by our cultural norms . . . and if we continue to compare our spending habits to those around us instead of using God’s Word as the standard, we will remain oblivious to our affluence and hinder God's greater purpose for the resources He has entrusted to us. 

God has already released the wealth to solve the world’s greatest problems – we just need to partner with Him to accomplish this!



1 - The giving of our time and talents can be just as significant as the giving of our money.

 “We all have wealth – our intellectual capital, our social capital, our emotional capital, our spiritual capital, and our financial capital.” -David Green

2 - God cares about our saving just as much as He cares about our giving.

In the Old Testament, Scripture directed people to do more than just give 10% away; it directed them also to also save 10% (this was the “second tithe”). And in Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus teaches us we should be faithful with what we are entrusted, to invest it well.

Our culture is fashioned to build personal security for our future, and there is a component of Godly wisdom in doing this . . . as long as we are also sharing our resources to help others in need. We should be wise with our money, but as 1 Timothy 6:17-19 exhorts, we should not put our hope in wealth (which is uncertain) but in God, “who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”

3 – Be careful to guard yourself from a poverty mindset.

This is different than just being careful with your money; it borders on being stingy, which is defined as “giving or spending reluctantly.” The poverty spirit (sometimes referred to as the orphan spirit) encourages people to compete with others, compare lifestyles, and clings to the belief that there is never enough.

One of God’s name is “El Shaddai,” which means God of abundance. He is not a God of just enough. But His abundance was never meant for us to hoard; it was meant for us to use to help bring more of His kingdom here on earth (2 Corinthians 9:8). 

In the end it all comes down to trust and identity. Do we believe we are merely servants of God, or do we recognize we are friends of God, sons and daughters of the King and joint heirs with Christ . . . with direct access to everything we need (John 15:15-16, Romans 8:15-17, Luke 12:32)?

4 – Make sure you are not giving out of pressure.

Pay attention to red flags. Be mindful of people or churches who try to control your finances with guilt or manipulation. Use God’s Word as a guide and ask God yourself what He wants you to give. God made you the steward over your finances, not someone else.

Also be careful not to fall into a legalistic mindset with your giving.  God may lead you to give extravagantly in one circumstance, but that does not mean you are required (or led) to do so that same way every time.  If you make a law out of your experience, you can end up following an overly structured mindset in your giving (which will just put you in a different type of bondage than greed).

5 – Remember, our attitudes toward giving are contagious.

The Macedonian’s enthusiasm for giving stirred others to give (2 Corinthians 9:2).  The priestly ministry of giving is similar to the importance of the priestly duties in the temples – it does not just supply other’s needs; it leads them to praise God (2 Corinthians 9:11-15)!

The Hebrew word tzedakah, when translated, means both generosity and righteousness - there are over 2,000 scriptures in the Bible that connect these two words. Generosity was actively cultivated in the Jewish culture because they knew it was impossible to be both righteous and greedy (Psalm 112:5, James 1:26). We mature as believers when we grow in things like faith and love, but Scripture also directs us to also grow in our giving. “But since you excel in everything - in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you - see that you also excel in this grace of giving” (2 Corinthians 8:7). I had this plaque made for my office to remind me of this truth and encourage me to live a tzedakah lifestyle every day.

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Scripture directs us to be rich in “good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share” so that we may take hold of the life that is truly life (1 Timothy 6:17-19). The ultimate goal in giving is not to just tithe, but rather to grow into a spirit of generosity with all that we have, with all that we do, all the time.

If Jesus is my Lord (not just my Savior), then He should have free reign in every area of my life, including my finances. So, I have to ask myself . . .  is my heart (as evidenced by my lifestyle) centered on life here on earth, or is it heaven-focused (Mark 10:17-31)?

Just think about it - what if all Christians become KNOWN as givers? What if we were the most generous tippers and the most radical lovers, and the ones who refused to turn a blind eye to the suffering around us?  What if we let our lights shine so brightly that others could not help but notice we were different (Matthew 5:14-16)? Together we could change the world - is this not what God had planned all along?

To all the fellow world-changers out there . . . this is your invitation to join me.


Francis Chan sermon "When Jesus Is Known, Giving Is Easy"

If you have a desire to grow in your giving, I highly recommend the two teachings below by the Bible teacher Shane Willard – he has brought the Word to life for me in fresh ways, while challenging and inspiring me in my giving.  If you prefer, you can read a transcript of his "Finance Series" HERE.

"Righteousness and Generosity" - by Shane Willard

"Mastering the Art of Giving and Receiving" - by Shane Willard


"Keys to Heaven's Economy: An Angelic Visitation from the Minister of Finance" book by Shawn Bolz

"20 Bible Verses on Money and Stewardship" article

Carey McNamara

I am a wife to Bob, a mom to Connor, and a physician assistant who is passionate about beating heart disease. As a devoted lover of Jesus, I am on an unending quest for more truth, love, and wholeness through Him. I have come to a place in my life where I realize God is not afraid of my questions, and I have learned the joy of pursuing Him until I discover His heart. As a result, I created a blog to encourage others in their own journey towards Life, Liberty, and Love in Christ. I am passionate about doing life authentically in community, and am thrilled to share a bit of that with you here.

*Please comment respectfully. I welcome honesty as you share your thoughts and feelings. However, since many of these subjects are controversial, I ask that you take care to honor others in the process. I reserve the right to delete any inappropriate comments.