USA (MNN) — What comes to mind when you hear the word, “generosity”? Many people think about donations, and a “generous” donation is one with lots of zeroes behind it.
Scott Clifton, head of FARMS International, offers a different perspective.
“When we look at…how Jesus talks about generosity, it’s really an attitude of the heart and it goes much deeper than just a financial gift.”
He offers the account in Luke 21:1-4 as an example and observes, “Jesus upholds this lady and He says that this person has put in more than all the rich people have put in.
“She was giving out of her poverty, while others were giving out of their surplus.”
Clifton doesn’t discredit the importance of financial gifts. Generous donors are vital to every ministry – including FARMS International – “but, it also goes beyond that,” he adds.
“FARMS is built on generosity at every level,” Clifton explains. Along with financial support from donors, “there’s the volunteer loan committees that lead the loan programs in each individual location who give much of their time and their expertise.
“And, there’s loan recipients that give generously out of their profits back to their church and their community.”
It would be easy to get caught up in tracking the financial aspects of FARMS’ ministry, Clifton admits. This is not where he wants to focus the ministry’s efforts. “There’s good elements to it, but at the end of the day, we want to have the heart that God has,” he explains.
FARMS wants to shift believers’ focus back to God as Provider, instead of self, and to His standard for generosity. It’s common for people today – including Christians – to believe that only those with an abundance of time, money, and resources can “afford” to be generous.
“There’s this idea that because the poor are poor, we should not ask them to give back to their churches because it’s too big of a burden for them to bear. But actually, when you look at Scripture, God upholds that gift in even greater value.”
Whenever FARMS begins a new program, explains Clifton, they emphasize two points. The first is repayment. Anyone who takes a zero-interest loan from FARMS is expected to pay it back. The second point is tithing. As each individual’s small business generates profit, believers are expected to give a percentage to their church.
“When they do that, we’re able to see churches expand,” Clifton shares. “They’re not just gathering to themselves, not just building storehouses…but, they’re pushing out and they want to meet the needs of their neighbors.”
As you consider and reflect upon Clifton’s perspective of generosity, ask the Lord how He wants you to respond.
“We would love for you to join us in prayer; we would love [to have] financial gifts that allow us to continue and expand the ministry.”
Header image courtesy Porapak Apichodilok via Pexels.