Author and Pastor Craig Groeschel suggests an excellent diagnostic test:

If your butt muscles tighten up when you hear the word “generosity”, you may have a scarcity mindset.

Most Americans don’t feel rich, but we are. Plug in your income at www.globalrichlist.com and you’ll find that most are in the top 1% in the world. Even families at our poverty level are in the top 3% in the world. Think about it. Many people in other countries don’t have houses. In America, a lot of people’s cars have houses. We call them garages.

Americans give away less than 3% of our income. And some studies show that when income rises, the percentage of giving actually goes down. We say we want to give more, but we don’t feel we can. Many are trapped in the cycle of SCARCITY instead of the cycle of GENEROSITY.

God supplies us with a certain income. In the Scarcity cycle, we CONSUME first and often times overconsume. This leads to a feeling that we are lacking, and then we fear that we won’t have enough, so we clutch tighter to our material wealth. This produces a fear-based cycle that is self-perpetuating.

In the Generosity cycle, we realize that we aren’t the owners of our wealth. God is the owner and we are His stewards (managers). He wants us to invest in causes near and dear to His heart. Instead of consuming first, we GIVE first. He then blesses our giving (financially or otherwise) so we don’t lack. When we see God at work in this way, our faith grows and we become more and more generous with His money. The fear melts away. Will we have to change our lifestyle to align with God’s will? Probably. That’s part of growing in our faith. It may cause some pain, but a lifestyle of generosity that is free from fear and allows us the joy of giving is well worth it.

There is a reason the Bible talks about regularly giving a certain percentage of our income. God uses our giving to grow our faith. Regular sacrificial giving breaks the cycle of scarcity in our lives and starts the cycle of generosity. It teaches us to put God first and to rearrange our lives around Him. It takes faith to give first. In the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi 3:10, we see the only time in the entire Bible where God says to test him, and it is in regards to giving financially. “Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

I challenge us to think about these two mindsets and consider growing in our faith by giving first. Being generous is an awesome way to live our lives.
Adapted from Craig Groeschel’s message: This is What We Do: Put God First (video link)

Related links:
Living Our Faith: Outrageous Generosity and The Love of Money

Image credit: Life Church TV