Christmas and the end of the year are always busy seasons as we gather ourselves together, spend another moment with those we love, before jumping into the New Year with anticipation and hope that ‘This will be our year’. But these seasons are always busy, and because people remain to be sick throughout this season and therefore I am required to work through (rude.), todays post will be just another ‘quick thoughts’ on something that I have been reflecting on the last couple weeks in the lead up to Christmas. So here it is: The Art of Giving.
I say ‘art’ because like my previous post on Rest and Laziness (see, Octobers post), I think it is a trained skill, perfected through practice. (Side note here – how true is that ALL of the gifts the Father kindly grants us are perfected through practice – how much do we practice them?). I think giving was intended to be a joyful experience, one straight from the heart, knowing in full trust of the Fathers love that even when we give down to the last penny, we will NEVER be needy if we stick close to Him. It’s probably worth mentioning here that I don’t think that Gods definition of ‘needy’ is the same as ours and therefore comes down to an ultimate trust in who He is.
Giving – in a sense of joyful purpose that together we can do better. I sound like I am about to run for President, but seriously! How often in life has ‘team’ been the key to success. Where together, when people, true humans who are inadequate alone, band together to do something meaningful, giving towards each others inadequacies to make something powerful. Giving of gifts is just one way to do that, and around Christmas, a fairly easy one. But is it just as easy to buy something for someone in need, when there is no holiday to bind it to? It’s pretty easy for me to buy clothes for myself – I’ll admit, but do I naturally go out shopping thinking, I don’t need this jumper, but I know someone in need who does! No, not really, cause I’m human. Or our money – I am all for saving and being wise with your money. I try to exercise the same pattern for my wallet as I do for my diet. If i want it, I’ll allow myself to have it. But I also know how to exercise self-control when I need to. But do I give freely of heart to others in need? Or our time? Or our love and attention? Are they given generously?
Recently a good friend of mine, who is a missionary, reached out to me to ask for some money for a need that had arisen. I initially wanted to say ‘No’, as I was already supporting this friend. I had given in the past and for what it was worth, I wanted to keep what I had earned. Just to be sure, I went to ask Jesus what I should do. He asked me to be generous. Really Lord? But I’ve been so generous, can’t you ask someone else to help this person? What am I getting out of it? To be honest, and I’ll freely admit what no one likes to admit – I was being really selfish.
And before you go on and support my moaning and self-pity – ask yourself this question – “When is it the right time to STOP being generous”. I couldn’t come up with a justification because I don’t believe there is an answer. I don’t think there is a right time to stop being generous. To be honest, I believe we should ALWAYS be generous, right down to the moments we don’t even feel like it. I’ll stop and make it clear that I don’t always think it is right to give money just because someone has asked. Sometimes it is MORE generous to NOT give in to someone asking. You have to decide that between you and God in any given situation – because no two are exactly the same. In this case, I had more than I really needed and I trusted that the Father would provide for me, as much as He has used me to provide for my friend.
“I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles… For even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. … They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”
(Philippians 4: 10-14; 16-17; 19)
Jesus also reminded me that we store up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:20), where our hearts are also. How funny too that the Father taught me this lesson in the week leading up to Christmas. God truly loved His people that He allowed Jesus, freely gave Him to us so that we might have life and life to the full. He allowed His son to die for us, to carry our sins, and to bear the consequences so that we did not have to. We love, because he first loved us, we forgive because he forgave us, perhaps we can be generous, because he was generous to us. To us the unbelieving, to us the unfaithful and to us the undeserving. He came and He died and He lives again in each of us. I’ll also add that I think generosity goes beyond worthiness. I’ll be completely honest and say I was NOT deserving of the Father when He has generously given to me, and we can learn from that.
May no brother in the world be hungry or thirsty or naked again if we band together and be generous. Wew there’s a good word right there!
So, Merry Christmas friends,
May you be stirred to give above and beyond what you thought you could because you’ll remember these two things:
1. Where there is a need and you have the means to fill it – give generously
2. Because you will NEVER be without, even when you give more than you believe you can, because when God leads us to move in Faith, we are storing up treasures in Him.