My church is going through Andy Stanley's Fields of Gold book for the next couple weeks. As a small group leader, I am going to go through the book as well with my group. Fields of Gold is about generous giving and living free from fear as we give back to the Lord.
Mr. Stanley believes that much of the anxiety which comes from Christians about giving is tied less to stingy greed than to basic fear.
We feel that if we are too generous that we will be left destitute or at least unable to support ourselves. We wish to give more, but we are afraid that our needs will somehow not be met. Mr. Stanley writes to "free you from a percentage mentality and to introduce you to a way of life built on the premise that God is a rewarder of those who seek Him and His kingdom first." As Christians, we should not live in a place of fear, because ultimately, God is going to take care of us. When we come to the end of our rope, we have something those outside of a relationship with Jesus do not have - a loving Father ready & able to take care of us.
Mr. Stanley wants Christians to live with open hands on what is the Lord's anyway and to be ready to give at all times. Many Christians are also muddled in a percentage mentality. "What percentage must I give to keep God happy or at bay? 10%, 30%, 50%?" Mr. Stanley looks to that question and seeks to alleviate any hesitation of lack of joy in our giving.
One thing that struck me (which most of you more than likely have already made the connection with, so bear with me) is that Mr. Stanley writes, "the brake lights often come on when I urge people to give their hard-earned money." The word hard-earned hit me & I began thinking about the curse. Our work is hard, as a direct result of the Fall. Therefore, our payment for that work is meant to be hard-earned. If the Fall never happened, than we would still work, but the phrase hard-earned money may never have come into existence. So, because we were rebellious and sinned at the Fall, work became hard work but now we feel the money from that hard work is more deservedly ours because it cost us something. When I thought of it that way, it really struck me as backward thinking.
Fields of Gold is one of many good books on giving & finances, but has the added benefit of being fairly inexpensive. My church bought up a bunch from NextStep & then is passing them out to each couple or single in a small group.