I was fortunate while I was an undergraduate at the University of Georgia. My parents were generously willing to cover my expenses after scholarships and encouraged me to focus on school rather than get a part-time job. This was an obvious luxury because many of my close friends at the time were working to at least partially support themselves. One working friend stands out in my memory because of her extravagant faith and generosity with the Lord. For months I had watched this girl work diligently at both a part-time job, and at school. She had saved about $3,000.00 and had practical plans for the money. But at a church service a few weeks before the summer I watched her write a check for every cent in her bank account and place it in the offering plate. This shocked me and later prompted me to ask several questions. “Why did you give it all away? What are you going to do about making rent next year? Aren’t you concerned about having a completely empty bank account?” To the best of my recollection her answer was simple, and faithful; “I heard God calling me to give away the money that I had coveted so much and I know that he will provide anything I need.” 

This answer still rings in my own head like a bell. Both then and now I am a man who makes plans, who tries to budget, who makes lists and is uncomfortable until everything is checked off. My wife Courtney is the same way. We joke uncomfortably about how we know that God sees us trying to architect and control our little life and he laughs at us. This grasping for control is inconsistent with our faith in many ways, not the least of which being the way that it impacts our giving.

After about a decade of working, paying my own bills, and starting a family the truth and challenge of Matthew 6:21 has never felt more real. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The very act of writing this reflection is convicting for my own attempts at building a treasure chest. What is so interesting about this conviction I feel, and the quagmire of guilt and anxiety around financial control, is that the answer is just to give it away. I remember seeing and experiencing the freedom and peace that resulted from my friends extravagant giving. Pray for me to respond to God’s call on my treasure, and I’ll be praying for all of you in this area as well. We all could use more of the freedom that faithful giving will bring.

-Austin Williams