The service moves on: you hear the announcements, shake hands with the people around you, listen to the sermon. As the service comes to an end, your stomach is loudly announcing that it's lunch time. So you meet up with "the usual gang" and try to decide where to go eat and life proceeds as usual.
This is the scene across America every Sunday morning. I know it well because I've been a part of it for so long.
Something that the book "Radical" has really brought to our attention is how we are all quick to agree with the fact that something in American culture needs to change, but we are very slow to act on it.
For example, everyone would agree that we need to do more for missions, right? I'd say as long as children around the world are starving we'll be willing to admit that's the case. But how many of us sacrifice--really sacrifice--to give to missions?
That was a reality that hit home for us. As missionaries ourselves it's really easy to get frustrated when we see the lack of giving. We justify it and say, "Well, we give this amount so we're doing our part." But are we?
We hear preachers teach that we are to tithe and then "try" to give above and beyond to missions.
In my short 24 years of life, I've discovered that if we set out to "try" to do something, the likelihood of ever actually doing it is slim to none. We have to decide without question that we will do something. Besides, I'm unable to find anywhere in the Bible where God says that 10% plus "trying" to give above and beyond is what He asks of us. Isn't the question not so much how much of our money are we going to give to God, but rather, how much of God's money are we going to keep for ourselves?
The problem with giving 10% and a "little more" to missions is that we start to think that's ALL we have to do. We convince ourselves that as long as we're doing that, we're good.
Hm. I think God frowns on that.
In light of this, God did some serious convicting in our own hearts. We took a look at our monthly expenses and, while we were giving above the "typical" 10% of income, we were comfortable there. There was no sacrifice. The truth is, we were spending a lot of money on luxury things...like eating out. It's hard to justify saying, "We can't afford to give more to missions." when we spend so much on unnecessary things like that.
So, we had a choice: ignore what God was saying to us or do something about it. And, well, ignoring God is not recommended. My hubby came to me one day and said, "If we can afford to eat out, we must be able to afford to give to missions. Period."
I was on board with that. "You're right," I said. "Good point."
"So, from now on, anytime we eat out, we will match that to missions," he continued.
"Oh. Um. Ok. Yes. That's right. That sounds good," I replied. But in my head I'm thinking, "That's a little "radical" isn't it?"
That's the point!!
So, beginning August 1, we started following through with that commitment. And the results weren't what I anticipated!
Several things have happened:
- We've started eating out less. We literally could not afford to match in giving what we had been spending in eating out. It was a big wake up call to us about how much money we "wasted" eating out when we had plenty of food at home (we were just too lazy to cook!)
- We've discovered that it's a lot of fun to cook together! Trying new recipes and cooking together is really underrated!
- But most of all we've learned that there is extreme joy in giving sacrifically. Each time we have eaten out, we've said, "Ok, who's this gonna go to??" Yeah, we had our budgeted giving. But what a blessing to be able to give "a little something extra" to some missionaries who have some transitions going on in their lives or to a ministry just getting it's feet off the ground!
That's where we are. Looking forward to more radical changes in our lives!
What radical thing is God calling YOU to do?