In my job I have the joy of getting to know many radically generous Christians.
I work for a charity, and this last weekend was busy as I met with a number of our wealthier supporters. At the end of one meeting I commented to the couple opposite that everyone I'd met there had one thing in common:
They all started to give when their means were modest.
Not all from their first pay cheque, but nearly all from their first job.
First jobs, just married, starter homes, and growing families. All of these are good distractions to a generous life when you are early in your career.
Then there are all the experiences and opportunities on our doorstep in Ealing. I love the food, the shows, the endless places that will hoover up money when you thought you were going out for one drink.
But...giving is a choice hard-won - a muscle that needs to be exercised.
I think some have a rosy picture of life, assuming that they will naturally become generous as they accumulate wealth...
This is not the case!
Jesus talks a lot about money.
If you're reading the New Testament for the first time, you'll have noticed this. He tells stories about the über-rich...and the terribly poor.
When I read Jesus' story of the widow who gave sacrificially out of virtually nothing, we see it's not about the row of zeroes on the cheque, but the attitude of the heart.
When I read of the three servants who were trusted with unequal funds (Matthew 25:14) - the master judged all equally on his return. The one who was given little and didn't invest wisely as the others did was rebuked by the master.
Perhaps most challenging though, are the words that introduce the above parable:
Where your treasure is, your heart is also.
Are we choosing to put the extra each month towards something that's going to fade away, or could we invest in God's plan for a broken world and give our money to the church, a charity, or someone we know who is really struggling?
You may have a little or a lot of money.
That doesn't matter.
God asks all his children to be generous - generous today - and he promises to entrust much to those who are faithful with little.
Don't be fooled to think that generosity is something easy to be acquired when life is more comfortable.
I am not running the Ealing Half Marathon.
I know some in Redeemer are, but even if I woke up that morning in September with the desire to do so, my muscles wouldn't let me.
It wouldn't be a pretty sight as my legs seized up and failed me!
If I wanted to run the Ealing Half, I'd need to start my training a little at a time, and start today.
How's your generosity training going?