In each July issue, we focus our attention on giving and generosity. As we’ve often said, we want you to have more so you can give more!

Perhaps you feel your financial circumstances are such that you can’t give at this time. Obviously, I don’t know your circumstances. It helps to have walked in others’ shoes in understanding the challenges they face. Fortunately, God does this better than anyone. He knows the pressures you’re under, the desires you have, and the temptations you face. And knowing all of that, He still wants you to be generous in your giving.

We are commanded in 1 Timothy 6 to “do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.” Our giving tests the sincerity of our love (2 Corinthians 8:8) and our willingness to trust in God’s faithfulness (2 Corinthians 9:8).

Under His Spirit’s direction, you can increasingly become the kind of cheerful and grateful giver that delights His father’s heart. He’s always been faithful to you. By your generosity, you can be increasingly true to Him.

We should give with a sense of urgency. This should incline us to give what we can now rather than saving up to give more later. Later may be too late.

Once in our weekly staff devotions in our office, we prayed for two children whose mom died suddenly. Brain aneurysm. No warning, just here one minute and in heaven the next. Only 42 years old. Ultimately, perfection for her but sorrow for the family. All her plans and good intentions for the future — for her children, her career, her service to the Lord — gone in a moment. Not going to happen.

In his book Becoming Real, Steven James talks about the uncertainty of life, and he encourages his readers to make the most of each day, each week. He's not trying to depress them or bring them down; he is trying to wake them up:

Everyone dies in the midst of something.

People die in the midst of going to the dentist’s office or driving home from vacation or taking a shower or watching TV or mowing the lawn or barbecuing ribs on the back deck or enjoying a good night’s sleep. People die in the midst of arguments, grudges, dreams, plans, careers, headaches, heartaches, and courtships. People die in the midst of marriage and puberty and old age. Some die in the midst of being born. Or even before that.

We all die. And we don’t die when we expect to die or after our dreams have all come true or when we’ve finally made it in the world. No, most of us die in the midst of pretending we’ll never die. We die living as if tomorrow were guaranteed and this life will last forever.

When death claims a close relative or friend, we weep in shock. How could this happen? It’s so out of the blue! Death is never out of the blue. It’s always there, right before our eyes. And soon after the tragedy, we go right back to living as if each moment didn’t count for eternity.

Life is a gift. Death is a certainty. Dying is one thing we’re all capable of, one thing we all ultimately succeed at.

I’ve often heard people say things like, “You’ve got your whole life in front of you!” That’s simply not true. We don’t have our whole lives ahead of us. We have our whole lives behind us. What we have in front of us is a mystery that could be over at any moment. It’s sobering to reflect on the brevity and frailty of our lives.

Yes, sobering, but also beneficial for the Christian who wants the Lord to receive the greatest glory possible from his or her life. None of us wants to waste opportunities to make the most of the life and gifts God has given us.

Often we tend to postpone things, thinking, “There’s always next year.” No, there’s not always next year. Not always. For millions every day, there’s not even tomorrow.

How essential, then, to live with one eye on eternity, being fully awake to the knowledge that “just one life, will soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.”A familiar cliché perhaps, but not a truer line has been written.

Don’t let the time slip by. You have opportunities to live and give boldly for God. I want to encourage you to give generously to your church and to missions — to share the gospel of Christ with the world, to disciple new believers in their faith, and to offer mercy and help with their physical needs. If you do this, your eternal satisfactions will be great!