God’s vision for generosity goes way beyond spontaneous, off-the-cuff giving, as fun as that is. When we plan ahead and get a bit smart and strategic with it, we unlock a whole new area of generosity, and find it’s more surprisingly freeing than we’d expect.
Choose how you’ll complete today’s act:
Plan for the spontaneous. Make sure you have change on you for when you pass Big Issue sellers. Or, buy some hats and gloves to help rough sleepers in winter.
Plan to give often. Look over your finances, make a place for new ways to give regularly, and set up a giving account here to help you stick to it.
Plan to make sacrificial giving part of the fabric of your life. Follow today’s writer Alison’s example and do your own leisure tax, whether it’s 100% like for like, or a smaller percentage.
“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. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.”
(2 Corinthians 9:12–13 NIV)
Your thought for today:
It all started with thinking about tax. Yes, tax.
The idea came to me that, unlike some people, I was able to afford the luxury of leisure – the kind of treats that aren’t essential but bring me and my family a lot of pleasure. When the children were younger it was swimming or football; for me (or my husband) it was coffees and meals out, visiting the cinema or theatre, buying a new book or my particular favourite: luxuriating in a massage.
So my idea went like this: what if we were to self-impose a tax on our leisure for each of the 40 days of Lent?
I decided to make a list of everything we spent on leisure and ‘taxed’ it. It was a hefty tax rate at 100% but each time I spent money on one of life’s pleasures, I matched it pound for pound, ready to give it away at Easter.
In the past, we’ve sometimes given cinema or restaurant vouchers to families who were on benefits or, as last year, left it to someone else to decide how it should be spent.
By the time we got to Easter last year we’d accumulated £181. I was quite surprised that I’d spent that amount on leisure during the six weeks of Lent.
Then came the joy of giving it away.
I knew that my friend Kolsuma was going to Bangladesh with her husband (an Imam) and children at Easter and so handed it over to her to spend on whatever cause might benefit from it during their visit. It turned out that it paid towards a much-needed photocopier at the school in their home village. It also sparked a lot of discussion about giving and the Christian faith which was priceless.
So, once again, we’ve taxed our leisure and by week five it’s building up nicely. Who knows what God’s got in store for it but we can’t wait to find out.
Written by Alison Jones
Alison works in community cohesion in a primary school in Tower Hamlets which has six white British children and 440 from another 24 ethnic backgrounds. Alison specialises in setting up projects to enable the school community to give to others and also to understand others. Alison and her husband have lived in the same inner city area for 36 years. They have four adopted children.
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