When it comes to giving money, you should be reckless. Joyfully reckless.
I know, I know: "Brant, bless your heart, we know you mean well, but you really can't say be 'reckless' with your money, even when it comes to giving, because..."
Also: "Brant, I see maybe what you're saying, but you know, it's really about 'balance', and..."
Yep. I know. I hear this kind of thing a lot. Balance!
"It's all about balance, Brant."
Balance. Planning. Moderation. That's how we like to give, when we do it. Makes total sense.
Too bad Jesus never mentioned any of that.
By the way, why do you suppose no one objects to Jeremy Camp's latest song, "Reckless"? He says he WANTS to be reckless, to "give it all", and "shout (God's) greatness" by being reckless with his everything in his life, "no matter what the cost."
Does that include money?
No one objects. Why do you suppose THAT is? It can't just be that he's Jeremy Camp, and his arms are huge and stuff. I suspect - and maybe I'm crazy - that we don't mind songs like Jeremy's, because he's not being specific about anything. Or maybe there's such a tradition of saying such things in church-culture, that we don't really think he means it.
Christian music and books are littered with references about surrendering all, and being radical, and "sold out", or whatever. But when it comes to our treasure, which Jesus said indicates the status of our very hearts, well, then it's... slow down, there, partner. Let's be balanced.
Funny how that works.
Here are a few reasons to be "reckless" with your money, when it comes to doing the very things that are close to the heart of God:
1) You should be reckless with your money because you should take more risks.
People worry WAY too much. We know this. Jesus told us this. One reason: We imagine one worst-case scenario after another emerging both in the near and distant future. Almost all of them will NOT happen, but they still stop us from acting to alleviate someone ELSE's "worst-case scenario".
One researcher asked very old folks what they'd do if they could live their lives over: A top answer? Take more risks. They realize, now, they were worried about so many things that never materialized, and it stopped them from LIVING.
The people of Jesus, above all, should know that there's nothing to fear. Nothing. That frees you up to give joyfully, spontaneously, and with abandon - IF you really believe it, that is.
2) You should be reckless with your money because... you should be ANXIOUS to give it away.
Seth Godin, a marketing guru, just made this point on his blog:
We're often in a hurry to finish.
Or in a hurry to close a sale.
What happens when we adopt the posture of being in a hurry to be generous?
Good point. Ever notice that when you're looking to buy something, your eyes are always quick to spot a sale? Look for needs. Pray each day that God will send needs across your path. If you are anxious to give to the poor, you'll spot opportunities. And now giving becomes part of your day-to-day, breathing adventure with God.
3) So a single mom needs groceries. Or a poverty-stricken, diseased child needs healed. Another needs a chance to go to school. You KNOW God's heart is with those people. Seriously: Why would you NOT want to give?
It's an honor. A joy. God entrusted YOU with His money, and He wants to see what you do with it. He wants to see you ENJOY giving it away.
4) If you DON'T feel that way, excited to give recklessly, do it anyway. Because it will change you.
If you're a believer, and you find yourself thinking, "You know, to be honest, I just don't have much of a heart for the poor." Fair enough. It's good to be honest. So what does Jesus say you should you do, then? What should the believer who doesn't feel like giving to the poor do?
Answer: Give to the poor.
Do it. Now. Jesus sat with Pharisees, and told them they were dirty on the inside. To clean the inside, give to the poor. It's a one-step process.
It's aggravating, but true: Oftentimes, our actions don't follow our beliefs, our beliefs follow our actions. Acting changes us. So give anyway, and develop a heart that can break, a heart of flesh, a heart that seeks after God's own heart.
4) When you "recklessly give", you're giving to God. And, honestly, how "reckless" is that?
I can't find a story, not a single one, where someone is too moved by love that they just over-gave. Not one.
Maybe this is because God doesn't just take a special interest in "the least of these." He IDENTIFIES with them. He says it in Proverbs 19:17: If you're giving to the poor, you're lending to Me, and I WILL repay you.
I didn't make that up. That's what it says. ("But God doesn't need a loan, and..." Right. Good luck arguing with Proverbs.)
Not a surprise, given that Jesus said whatever you've done for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you've done to me. God loves us all, sure, but He identifies with the poor. Think you can go overboard giving to Him?
5) When you give, recklessly, joyfully, you prove what, or Who, owns you.
And it ain't money.
Giving in a measured, calculated, because-I-have-to-so-here's-how-I'll-do-it-just-so kinda way - while understandable - doesn't quite catch all the joy of this.
You've likely noticed, life seldom works "as planned". God surprises us, doesn't He? Things happen, people pop into our lives, needs are presented, and a willingness to respond in the moment, with joy, is proof our hearts are already aligned.
Give spontaneously to the poor, brimming with joy, and you're proving something, unwittingly: You belong to a Jesus who taught you that.
6) Sorry, but balance is WAY overplayed.
Seriously. Think about it: Why isn't Camp's song called, "Balanced"?
No one would buy it. It doesn't resonate, deeply, at the heart level. It's not poetic. It's not part of the story.
Is God "balanced"? As Tim Keller points out, God the Father, not the son of the "Prodigal Son" story, is truly "prodigal". And prodigal means to spend - get this - recklessly.
Toward us, He is not measured and balanced. Thank God.
He is lavish. He is over-the-top. He is bountiful. He is excessive. He is reckless. One of the highest compliments Jesus ever gave ("She has shown me much love." Lk 7) is to a woman who gave in a way others thought was just too much, too in-the-moment, too unbalanced.
Truth is, He loves us, and He loves giving. Want to be "Godly"? Have a heart for the outcast, the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, the lonely, and give to them. Recklessly.
Ask Him to show you opportunities. Open your eyes. Go for it. Have a ball.
In the end, you'll have many stories to tell, about how God provides, after all.
And, in the end, people will have many stories to tell about you.