Learning Wise Generosity
Learning Wise Generosity
by Sherri Vaught
I sit in our living room looking at a picture that hangs on the wall. It is the wedding gift I gave to my husband 10 months ago. I knew he loved the painting and I thought it would make a great centerpiece for our home. It is a realistic painting of Jesus walking on the Sea of Galilee. On the back of the painting, I wrote a message to Jason. One of the lines reads, “With eyes on Jesus and your hand in mine- I will gladly accept whatever stands before us in our life together.” Yes, we have only been married less than a year, but we have already grown and had to challenge one another.
We come from two different pasts: Jason, an overly positive, free spirit who believes the best of everyone, and then me, an always “be prepared for the worst”, “hope for the best”, and fiercely independent individual.
Whenever we read the scriptures we tend to gravitate to different positions on giving. Jason, who has a heart the size of Texas, reads God’s word and clings to giving freely, deeply, and sacrificially. I, on the other hand, read the gospels and Proverbs and my type A personality takes over, wanting to be a good steward with the resources God has given us.
Neither of our views are incorrect or fully correct; they are only correct when put together.
Within our first month of marriage we saw these differences. I had a severe allergic reaction to a food allergy, and Jason ran red lights to get me to the hospital. There is nothing like laying in a hospital bed in the ER as you are trying to breathe and watching your husband of three weeks nervous as could be on the other side of the room. I, on the other hand, wasn’t so nervous about the lack of oxygen I could consume as I was about how this was an unexpected, unplanned bill coming our way. Jason found himself trying to comfort me and tell me it didn’t matter. I thought that was a bunch of hogwash—it totally mattered!
The Responsible Saver
I was born with a physical disability that requires me to walk with two canes. Growing up I believed that I was a mistake that God made and that maybe if I was good enough I could earn His love. Although I didn’t believe everyone else had to earn His love, I thought of myself as worthless and having nothing to offer.
I wasn’t good at music, art, dance, sports, school, etc.…but what I was good at was being responsible, planning ahead, and being disciplined. I excelled in finance. I found/find great joy in planning budgets, creating pie charts of our spending, and graphing our savings accounts. I have such a fear of owing someone something that when I graduated from college with a double major I had no student loans or debts. When I bought a car and took out a five-year loan, I had to pay if off four years early because I couldn’t handle something being unsettled. I have come a long way since that insecure young girl, but my tendencies for being ahead of the game and being organized in finances often times ends up consuming me. Instead of trusting God to provide like He promises, I have to do the math and make sure the numbers come out all right at the end of the day. I want to be in control of this area of my life.
The Generous Free Spirit
When we were dating, one of the reasons I knew I loved Jason and wanted to marry him was his generosity. One night we went to a local restaurant where Jason ordered two meals: one to eat in the restaurant and another to go. I thought at the time he was planning ahead for a lunch to take to work the next day (my planning ahead personality thought this was awesome). As we left the restaurant that night we made a quick stop at the local grocery store. Jason told me to wait in the car and he would be right back. I watched as he took the warm, nutritious meal to a man who was homeless. When he got back in the car I began to ask him questions only to discover that the man I loved had a friendship with this man. They were on a first name basis and had jokes and nicknames. Jason would often go to the store and pick up things for his friend, but more than just give him items, he would also talk with him. I knew that night that the man whose hand I held was the most giving person I ever knew.
I remember praying to God that night and thanking Him for putting Jason in my life because I had so much to learn from him. Jason wasn’t just one of those guys who gave on Sunday mornings—he was the guy who gave when no one was looking, just like the widow’s offering. He still gives like he did when we were dating: to family members who need a little cheer, to a co-worker in need of some coffee, to a friend who is on the mission field. It isn’t even a second thought for him; his default is GIVE.
Giving Freely, with Wisdom
Much like all areas of marriage, we are learning to find a compromise. Neither of our views are incorrect or fully correct: they are only correct when put together. God asks us to be wise with what He gave us and to give generously. Jason is learning that planning ahead lets us be able to experience new opportunities like going on vacations or taking classes. I am learning that it is ok to live by faith that God will provide. There are times when we rely on the other person’s strengths: Jason trusts me when I tell him that this is the month to get that car part fixed, and I have learned from Jason to challenge myself to give more from the heart and not thinking with numbers. Knowing that finances is what Jesus talked the most about in the gospels and is also something that tears so many marriages apart, we know this is a topic that we need to work intentionally on together. With Jason’s hand in mine, and our eyes on Christ, we choose to give freely while being wise.
Jason and Sherri Vaught are a dedicated young couple following Jesus here at Elmbrook Church. They are on a journey to live an open-handed generosity lifestyle. You can find both on them serving in the Mission Café, where Jason is an assistant manager, and Sherri is also on the Elmbrook staff, exercising her eye for detail as our Facility Scheduler. As a newly married couple you can find them enjoying a road trip adventure, or an evening game night with a fresh bowl of guacamole.