Have you ever clenched your fists around the money in your pocket as you passed the beggar? Have you ever taken a bathroom break, knowing that one of your co-workers were coming office-to-office raising funds for their kid’s project or the next 5k race they were running? Do you tense up as you leave the grocery store, knowing that the girl scouts are waiting right outside? I do. And if you’re like me, you don’t want this to be true about you. I’d like to know how to cure stinginess.
What is the grip that money and time hold on us? At the root, I believe a lack of love is at work. This lack of love produces pride and fear. Protecting our time and quenching our desires is the result of living out of an insufficiently filled “love tank”. Self-preservation becomes the focus and we put ourselves before others.
Pride causes me to shake my fist at the red light while I’m running errands. Fear prompts that small internal voice to say, “No, I won’t share that last piece with you.” Stinginess is simply the outflow of a heart that is living in fear.
So what is the cure to fear, pride and stinginess?
It’s love. It always comes back here, doesn’t it.
How do we grow in love? The same way we survive dehydration in the wilderness. When you’re out of water and are at risk of dehydration, you can’t just drink out of the stream next to you. Even clean-looking mountain streams carry bacteria that can make you sick and speed up the dehydration process. So you must head to the source, where it is pure.
Carrying this analogy out, there are a few ways to find pure water. Rain water can be trusted, because it’s untouched, yet it comes in sprinkles and dashes. Creating a solar still will allow you to collect water that evaporates from living plants and the ground; but evaporation is a slow process that yields very little. The best method, though not always available, is to find the water that comes from deep in the ground: a spring or a well. This water is abundant and pure.
I’ve often said that my time with the Lord in the morning is what keeps me a nice person. My wife knows what kind of person I can become when I don’t maintain that appointment with God. This is my time to go drink from the well. A service on Sunday or a book I’m reading — those are like solar stills and rain water — they help, but they are insufficient for the long haul. But time with the Lord is my “well”.
Recognizing that God first loved and that He still loves me with abundance, despite my selfish sin nature, enables me to walk in love towards those around me.
My selfishness over my time and my money shows that I don’t trust that God is going to provide and protect. It shows that, in my mind, I have placed myself above God. I’ve begun to rely on my own abilities to get the project done on time or have enough saved for that home downpayment, instead of believing that He loves me enough to take care of me.
Curing stinginess, at it’s root, means heading to love’s source.
When is the last time you lowered the gates of your heart and let God’s love simply wash over you?