The Blessed Life by Robert Morris is a book written from the Christian perspective about the practice of giving. In it, Morris outlines his take on what the Bible has to say about the role of generosity in a person’s life.
Defining and exploring practices like tithing, spontaneous giving, and radically generous giving, this book combines Biblical references with stories of personal experience to paint a picture of the blessing that comes from being a giver.
Morris tells personal stories from his life and provides quotes from members of his church in each chapter to illustrate the effects giving has. The thesis of the book, like much of evangelical Christian teaching, is that a life of giving has far more benefit for the giver than the alternative.
The title alludes to this, in that a giver is “blessed.” If you aren’t from a Christian background, “blessed” simply means that God’s favor is on something, or that it is a holy thing. A life that is blessed is one that has fulfillment in its activities. Giving, this book sets out to prove, brings that blessing to a giver.
Connectivity to Audience
The book is clearly written to someone who is already a Christian. Familiarity with Scripture and church function will make following along easy. It also helps if you are already somewhat familiar with terms like tithing and mammon, although he does a good job of defining and unpacking concepts as he goes.
If you aren’t a Christian but you want to learn more about how to be generous, or if you just want to learn how a Christian views generosity, Morris makes the material accessible to you. Like any great communicator (he’s a highly sought after pastor and speaker), he does a great job of giving a lot of information in bite size chunks for you to hold onto.
I will say that if you aren’t a Christian, there will be some red flag moments that jump out at you. Let me try to put those at ease.
Most of the examples of giving that Morris uses go something like this:
-A person or couple feels led by God to give money or a possession away.
-They give money or a possession to their church or a deserving person/ministry.
-God blesses them with more money or possessions coming their way in a relatively short time.
This is where your red flags will be up because Christians and non-Christians alike can’t stand a manipulative preacher trying to get at people’s wallets instead of their hearts.
However, as a Christian, let me tell you that is NOT what is happening here.
Christians believe, and the Bible teaches, that God blesses generosity. We sometimes feel like we have to tip toe around that fact because there have been too many “name it and claim it” prosperity gospel teachers out there that have told everyone God just wants them to be rich.
Any time money is mentioned by a Christian teacher, minds jump to the late-night commercials promising abundant wealth if you’ll just order some miracle spring water along with a “generous” donation.
These teachers have eroded the public’s trust in Biblical teaching on generosity, but that failed trust should be directed at those teachers, not what the Bible says.
While the Bible doesn’t explicitly promise what the blessing will be every time we give, it does promise blessing. Morris just simply doesn’t avoid this fact or feel any need to dance around it with preacher talk to make it palatable.
He never promises HOW God will bless (it doesn’t always happen financially) but he does promise THAT God will bless someone who gives just to give. As a Christian, I certainly appreciate that approach and encourage you to read with an open mind if you are skeptical.
The Blessed Life is an easy read in terms of reading level. I finished it in just four or five days, but that isn’t to say the material is elementary. It has plenty of meaningful things to say. You will find a lot of scriptural content and personal stories all told in an accessible language and tone.
The most beneficial content for me as I read the book was the discussion on tithing. Tithing is a term meaning returning one tenth of your “increase” (income) to the Lord.
Tithing is somewhat of a hot-button discussion even among Christians, but Morris very clearly explains its importance using Scripture. Whether you agree with him or not, you will have no problem understanding why he sees tithing the way he does.
As a side note, if you’re not a Christian, I still challenge you to “tithe.” Generosity is an integral part of any person’s financial picture, regardless of faith. Set a goal for yourself that you will give 10% of your income away to something that you are passionate about, and see what it does for your character. Like this book teaches, giving changes the giver for the better.
If you are a Christian who isn’t a tither, you should definitely check out this book. It may change your perspective and convince you of the valuable place tithing has in the life of a believer. This is one of the most life-giving discussions of tithing out there, and you won’t feel manipulated or pushed.
One Little Thing
The one place where I do disagree with Morris is in the discussion of when a tithe must be returned. What he clearly teaches in the book is that the tithe is to come from the “first fruits,” meaning it isn’t the 10% left over after everything else gets paid, it’s actually the first 10% that comes off the top. There is a difference in the two, and I whole heartedly agree with that.
But then he states that the tithe must be the literal first thing to hit the bank account after payday, otherwise it isn’t a tithe. I very well could be misunderstanding him, but it seems to me like he’s saying that if I get paid on a Monday, pay some bills and put gas in my car, then I return my tithe the following Sunday, it isn’t a tithe because it wasn’t first.
You can read and judge for yourself if that’s what he’s saying. There’s an example he uses of a young man who wanted to date his daughter (who is now her husband) that he had to have a talk with about that very issue.
I teach on this website that everyone should be a budgeter. The first thing that I budget every month is my tithe. No matter what day of the week I get paid and what bills I pay on that day, the tithe is untouchable in my mind. Also, with technology today I am able to tithe electronically as soon as I’m paid, so it’s a non-issue. We’re just having fun in theory now.
So using the example of a Monday payday, I would buy groceries and pay bills before returning my tithe the next Sunday because that money is already assigned to be the tithe, even though it’s still in my account. In my mind it’s already gone, and I haven’t dipped into it one time in all my years of this practice. Therefore, I very much still consider that being a tithe by Biblical standards.
Whether you agree on that particular thought with Morris or not is no reason to disregard the wealth of content that fills the rest of the book.
All of that kind of minutia aside, the bottom line is that giving is FOR you, not to steal FROM you.
Recommendation Level: High
The Blessed Life is a solid pick if you’re a Christian who wants to grow in your generosity or simply learn more about why giving is important. The anecdotal content working together with Scripture references will feel very familiar to you as it’s almost written like a sermon.
It’s also a good choice if you’re not a Christian but are trying to learn more about the Christian perspective on giving. Morris doesn’t shy away from any principles or try to play with words. He says straight forward what he wants to say, and does it in an engaging way.
What books have you read lately on money that you learned from?
Are there any books I need to check out?
Let me know in the comments below!