Thomas Schmidt refers to Christian discipleship as a journey: “We begin at different points as we move at different rates… but the Biblical message is clear enough about the destination.” In God and Your Stuff, Wesley Willmer lays out six stages of spiritual maturity and use of possessions. They serve as a barometer of our faith walk with Christ. Corresponding to stages of life, stage 1 is toddlerhood, stage 3 is adolescence, and so on to mature adulthood.
Stage 4, Individual: Stages 1-3 involve the formation of one’s understanding of giving, but at stage 4, one’s view of giving begins to undergo a transformation of giving more freely, more often experiencing the joy that comes when putting needs of others above their own and seeing giving as something central to the Christian experience. Stage 4 is the beginning of seeing spiritual growth in the proper use of possessions. Likened to a young adult, this person is stepping out with more confidence in faith. Giving is less defined by others and becomes more of a personal concern. This giver does some soul-searching along with seeking God’s truth of how to relate to their possessions in honoring God with first fruits (Proverbs 3:9). Instead of giving what is left over, steps out in faith and gives off the top even though it may feel like they are only making ends meet. The commitment to give 10% and save 10%, living on 80%, is a giant leap of faith. The Individual giver discovers that God does keep His promises, meeting their needs and growing their faith. God is calling this giver to give first so that their faith is deepened in giving to serve His eternal kingdom. At this individual stage, the vertical issues of soul development start to internalize, and giving becomes a lifestyle of faith.