I like to make up words. If a guy named Shakespeare did it, I figure why can’t I? Words like “Fantabulous” (fantastic + fabulous) and “Splend-differous” (Splendid + differentness). Timothy Merrill made up a word, “Grace-onomics” (grace + economics). How do those go together?

Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner wrote a book which challenged our thinking about the whole idea of economics in our culture: Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Looks at the Hidden Side of Everything. They looked at the real nature of economics as a web of interconnected relationships. Their premise? “If morality represents how we’d like the world to work, then economics represents how it actually does work.” The linchpin that holds everything together is the concept of incentives.

In a world where conventional economic wisdom is all about acquiring enough money to live comfortably, what is the incentive for us to give our time, talent, and treasure? I believe it’s not about having nothing else to do so we go to a meeting at church, or knowing how to do something so we volunteer to help out or toss in our leftover pennies in the offering plate. It’s all about seeking the higher value of excellence in our stewardship, living our lives with open hands and hearts, rather than begrudging our giving. That economic theory is different from that of the authors of “Freakonomics.” The Bible maintains that everything belongs to God in the first place. And even if we don’t have a penny to our names, we are rich because of God’s grace toward us.

That thinking runs counter to just about every economic theory. We give because we have already received. We love because we have already been loved. We extend grace because we have already been the recipients of grace.

Our incentive to give of our time, our talents, our treasure in God’s service has nothing to do with what we’ll get in return. Our giving has everything to do with what God has already done for us. It’s a “Fantab-ulous,” “Splend-differous” day to celebrate God’s “grace-onomics” in our giving of time, talent, and treasure.

Shalom, Paul