Is there anything better than being able to give and help someone in need?

This is usually my feeling about generosity, but lately I’ve been struggling and I don’t know what to make of it. We had several opportunities to meet needs last week, and as I bought the gift cards and supplies my anxiety level skyrocketed. I felt like I was doing something wrong. I felt like I was irresponsibly overspending. The feeling is following me into this week, too.

For example.

This morning I realized we’re almost out of toilet paper. My first reaction was one of frustration and deep shame. (Shame, I tell you! Over toilet paper!) I had promised myself I’d make do with what we had in the house this week, not run out to the store and spend money twenty different ways. I mentally berated myself for not having enough bathroom tissue on hand.

We need more TP because we have more guests than usual using the restrooms. In a six-day span this week, we’ll have about fifty guests. It turns out that guests need to use the restroom, and it’s awfully generous of a hostess to make sure she supplies ample paper for this.

(I feel like this entire post has taken a turn towards toilet etiquette, and that’s hardly my point. But stick with me here while I round the bases.)

We’ve been given a home to share. We want to be generous with our space. An extra toilet paper run hardly counts as irresponsible spending. So why the anxiety and shame?

I’m still working through the answer for that, and I think it has something to do with relying heavily on our budget to anchor our spending, which then anchors our financial future. If we don’t overspend now, we’ll have enough money later, my anxiety level reminds me.

But I can’t find a lot of biblical support for that train of thought. I find a lot of God calling us to be generous people, and then to trust him for anything we need. I hear Jesus calling out to the crowds to seek first the Kingdom, and everything we need will be given to us.

I don’t see any examples of God sitting down to micromanage our toilet paper budget with a disapproving eye.

So, please tell me. How does your family make financial room for generosity?

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. (Matthew 6:33-34, NLT,

9 Comments on A Discussion of Generosity As It Pertains to Toilet Paper

  1. David
    December 1, 2015 at 4:15 pm (2 years ago)

    I remember my parents joking about buying extra loo roll when my aunt was coming to stay!

    I was wondering if all your guests will read this blog and bring their own toilet paper when they visit. Or perhaps even wrap some up in Christmas paper for you.

    In terms of family generosity we do make sure that visitors have access to a good supply of toilet paper. We find it difficult to budget because of the self-employed thing and not knowing what we will receive in payment from one month to the next. But our regular giving to church and others is set up as standing orders from our bank. As far as other giving goes we try not to worry about giving time re church, and Marilyn is always baking for people. There are many ways in which generosity may be expressed. I’m not sure we always realise the different ways in which we give. Perhaps that’s the best way. And no shame Jessie. No shame.

  2. Jessie Clemence
    December 1, 2015 at 4:31 pm (2 years ago)

    Ha! I probably will get a lot of toilet paper as a gift from this. I’ll request everyone calls it “loo rolls” from now on, as well.

    As far as your self-employment goes, does it freak you out to be generous? How do you feel about knowing the payments are coming out but the income might not be coming in?

  3. David
    December 1, 2015 at 4:39 pm (2 years ago)

    Good question Jessie. Things toughened up a few years ago when there was less work and all of a sudden it started to take months to get paid. We had to review our giving and other stuff like what we were paying into a pension fund because what was coming in could not sustain what was going out. We also looked at where we could make savings. So first the business fax line went, then the PO Box number, then the account with the business travel agent (I now book everything myself online) then eventually we binned the business land line and just operate with the cellphone. The weird thing is that despite difficulty in trusting God for financial provision at times He always comes through. What freaks me out is having to ask to get overdue invoices paid – especially expenses. But all in all I would say that our experience ties in perfectly with Matthew 6:33-34

  4. Jessie Clemence
    December 1, 2015 at 5:35 pm (2 years ago)

    Excellent. I am most glad to hear it. And I agree that there’s a lot we’re responsible to do, like canceling unneeded expenses. We can’t just not do anything. But at the end of it, there’s a provision that goes beyond just reviewing the insurance bill.

  5. David
    December 1, 2015 at 5:37 pm (2 years ago)

    Doesn’t make it easy though!

  6. Vincent Henderson
    December 1, 2015 at 10:38 pm (2 years ago)

    We spend what we don’t have (for God and others) and God replenishes it. Time after Time after Time. 🙂 26 years and counting….

    Not a huge fan of Dave Ramsey….

    But if a person has to listen to him….

    Pick the spot half way between what He Says and what God Says with regards to money management.

    Tearing down a Silo to build a bigger one makes me nervous…

    Guarding tightly a retirement (on a scale we’re dictating) while God alone knows if we’ll even be alive… makes me nervous also….

    Pretending we’re sparrows…. oddly makes sense.

    Obedience to Gods leading….. cuz he does Talk 2 Us…. makes sense….

    Good Luck!

    December 1, 2015 at 11:07 pm (2 years ago)

    We insist people go to the bathroom before we let them in!
    On a different note, there are times when we can be more generous than other times. There was a long time when I was tithing. It felt great. Things are tighter now, and I can’t and I feel as if something is missing.

  8. Jessie Clemence
    December 2, 2015 at 9:30 am (2 years ago)

    I understand completely. Giving does become part of your life, and it feels right. (Because it is!) When it’s missing, something feels off.

  9. Jessie Clemence
    December 2, 2015 at 9:33 am (2 years ago)

    We had a lot of Dave Ramsey discussion this week at church as our small group picked a budgeting curriculum for the new year. Dave’s very motivating, but Eric and I struggle with the concept of building wealth. Even if it’s for giving (eventually), there are so many other, more generous, ways to use it now.

    However, a person can’t beat a kick in the pants from Dave! There aren’t a whole lot of people who can be that blunt.

    We did choose the curriculum by Crown Financial Ministries, though, simply because it’s biblically based.