In a world of much mediocrity it’s good to aim for excellence. To excel in something requires training, discipline, stamina and being prepared to be in for the long haul. I sometimes hear people sharing things they’re trying to excel in and I’m always inspired by their passion and dedication. It’s good to seek to excel.

The thing is, I rarely hear people saying that they want to excel in giving. That they want to be one of, or even ‘the best’ at giving away money. That’s despite the fact that the bible tells followers of Jesus to do just that. In the middle of teaching on money, 2 Corinthians 8:7 could not be clearer: ‘see that you also excel in this grace of giving’.

To excel in giving could be viewed as a challenge to see who can give the most. Some see it this way, and I know people whose number one aim in business is to make a lot of money so they can give it away. To be honest, the world could do with many more people like that.

But to excel in giving is not really about giving the most. Because Jesus taught that you can give a tiny amount and, in God’s eyes, give ‘more’ than someone who gives a lot. That’s the meaning behind the story of the widow who gave her last penny (see Luke 21:1-4). No, to excel in giving is not about giving the most; it’s about giving your best. It’s about making giving a priority. So that giving is not just something you do once in a while, but it becomes part of who you are and how you live.

People in UK are very private about their money. Many of us don’t find it easy to talk about what we earn or what we give. Whilst it’s important not to brag, I think we could do with more frank, honest and open conversation about such things. So I found Martine Somerville’s comment in church yesterday very helpful – that for a few years they’ve been giving away 1% more each year and they’ve found they can do it and they aim to keep going. That sounds to me like one way of seeking to excel in the grace of giving.

I’m going to blog about giving for a few days, as a number of people have been asking me questions as a result of my talk yesterday on The Fear of Not Having Enough. A good starting point, it seems to me, is to aim for excellence. I want to aim to excel in the grace of giving.