The Joy of Givingby Mary SoutherlandToday’s Truth2 Corinthians 9:7
(NCV): "Each one should give as you have decided in your heart to give. You should not be sad when you give, and you should not give because you feel forced to give. God loves the person who gives happily."Friend to Friend
One of my favorite authors, Richard Foster, writes, "Giving with glad and generous hearts has a way of routing out the tough old miser within us. Even the poor need to know that they can give. Just the very act of letting go of money, or some other treasure, does something within us. It destroys the demon greed." God loves to see us give for no other reason than the joy of giving.
The true story is told of a self-made millionaire who had lived in New York City his entire life. Born and raised in a ghetto, he worked hard and achieved much. Anyone who knew this man would testify to the fact that he was generous--to a fault, some would say. One year, the man was disturbed by an attitude of selfishness and greed that seemed to pervade the Christmas holiday season and everyone around him. Not one to condemn, the millionaire decided that since he had been given so much, it was up to him to do his part in combating greed and came up with an unusual plan. Wearing a disguise, this man stuffed his pockets with $100 dollar bills and set out for a walk on the streets of New York City. When he saw someone in need, he whipped out one of the bills, pressed it into that person's hands and with a "Merry Christmas," made his way down the street. "It was the most wonderful part of my holiday season," the man reported, and he has been doing it every since.
God is much more interested in our motive for giving than in the gift itself. If that motive is tainted with greed, the gift simply does not count. A powerful way to guard against greed is to choose joy over greed. Giving with joy is Kingdom giving! Before you give, ask yourself, "What’s in it for me?" If the answer is "nothing," then go ahead and give the gift.
When our children were in middle school, we owned what I affectionately called a "Mini-Gym." It was a set of bar bells, a weight lifting bench and a few free weights. Both Jered and Danna loved their "gym" and used it almost every day. When Christmas rolled around, we learned that two of their good friends, Jeff and Jeremy, were not going to have much of a Christmas because their dad had lost his job. Jered came up with a plan. "Mom," he said, "Danna and I have talked about it. We think that Jeff and Jeremy would love to have the gym. But we don’t want them to know we gave it to them, because they might be embarrassed. What do you think?" I thought I was in the presence of two joyful givers and quickly joined them in their plan.
A few days before Christmas, Jered and I took the gym apart and loaded it in our car while Danna found a huge red bow. Together, we made a sign that read, "Merry Christmas! We love you!" Danna blew up balloons while Jered dug out some Christmas lights. We enlisted the help of a neighbor who had a key to our friend’s house and joined in the fun by agreeing to find out when the coast was clear, unlocking the back door and letting us in. At the designated time, off we went, laughing and singing Christmas carols. We parked down the street until the neighbor called, giggling, to let us know she was all set. Once we were inside, we raced to assemble the gym, post the sign, tie the balloons and tape the lights to the front door, leading our friends to their Christmas surprise on the back porch. We then high-tailed it home as if the FBI was hot on our trail! The neighbor reported that just minutes after the boys returned, she heard shouting and "whooping and hollering." The joy of that Christmas still lingers today. Greed doesn’t hold a candle to joyful giving!
Greed is never satisfied and never at rest. There is always something more to be gained and someone else to outdo. Take sheep, for example. Sheep are dumb enough to eat until they are sick. They simply do not know when to stop. A heart that is filled with greed behaves the same way. I am afraid our heart motives are all too frequently self-serving when it comes to giving. Our pride is at stake, so we give to impress others. Perhaps, we give out of fear and guilt, hoping to buy God's forgiveness from our sin. People are watching, so we give in order to gain their approval. What is the solution? Giving! Giving is a powerfully effective deterrent to greed when we give for no other reason than the joy of giving.
: "Some people give much but get back even more. Others don’t give what they should and end up poor. Whoever gives to others will get richer; those who help others will themselves be helped."
I once read an article that described three types of givers. The first kind of giver is the "flint." To get anything out of a flint, you have to hammer it, and even then, you only get chips and sparks. A second kind of giver is the "sponge." You have to squeeze it and the more pressure you use, the more you will get. The third kind of giver is the honeycomb. It just overflows. What kind of giver are you? Experience the joy of Christmas when you experience the joy of giving. Merry Christmas!Let's PrayFather,
thank You for all You have given me. Help me to be the kind of giver that points people to You. I choose against my pride or any wrong motive
for giving Christmas gifts this year. I
choose to keep my eyes on You and my glance on the world. I love you!
In Jesus' name, amen.Now It's Your Turn
We make a living by what we get out of life, but we make a life by what we give and how we give it. Beecher wrote, "No man can tell whether he is rich or poor by turning to his ledger. The heart makes a man rich. He is rich or poor according to what he is, not according to what he has." How do these words relate to your life this Christmas?
Take inventory of your "stuff." Make an actual list. Then set aside a time of prayer and solitude during which you give each one to God.
Consider giving an anonymous gift and recruit your family to help.Today's Advent reading is from the Girlfriends in God devotional ministry. There is no Advent devotional email tomorrow (Saturday); the next email will be on Sunday, when we'll introduce a new set of Scripture passages to reflect on throughout the week.