Giving

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Have you ever been invited to something and felt that you were only invited because the person wanted a gift?  Well, maybe you aren’t that cynical.  I’m a little cynical.

Here’s the thing…ask my family…ask the people who know me well, I love giving gifts to people.  Seriously.  I’m not very good at remember birthdays or special occasions but I love giving people gifts.  Unless, I feel obligated, then I kind of…well…give grudgingly….if I give at all.

We homeschool which means ever week we have a new scripture to memorize.  This week’s scripture is

So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.     2 Corinthians 9:7

We do not just memorize it, we learn about what the scripture means.  This week we have been talking about giving cheerfully.

This scripture has me thinking.

Of course, I want to be a cheerful giver with God.  Most of the teachings I’ve heard on this scripture have been about giving our tithes and offerings.   What about giving to other people?

It seems the more giving you are the more people expect for you to give to them.  If I’m honest with myself, I’ve been this person.  I’ve had expectations of people based on how they are “doing” financially.  Thinking that way is not “right” for lack of a better way of saying it.  Because you and I really cannot know for certain how someone is “doing” financially unless we have inside knowledge of all their financial situations…income, debt, etc.  You may think we are rich because of the vehicle we drive or because we are very generous.  We have a nice vehicle because we are very generously blessed by God…not because we are doing super great financially.

What has really struck me this week is the word, “necessity”.   Many times, the Hubs and I have given when we saw a need…not necessarily that God led us to give but we saw a need and we wanted to be the hero and we filled the need.

Let’s face it…it’s fun being the hero, if you can afford it.  I wish we were Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark but we aren’t that kind of rich.

For example, The Hubs had a nice (expensive to me…not expensive to musician types) base guitar.  He had been very blessed when he purchased the guitar…it was sold to him for 1/2 asking price without him even asking.  Several years ago, he donated it to a small church that needed a base.  Keeping in mind, the Hubs is a musician and plays several instruments, the base guitar is NOT his weapon instrument of choice.  After giving that base away, he ended up borrowing a base for two years to play for our church.  Our current church has asked him to play base several times and he has had to borrow a base.  I’ve been thinking, “wow, we sowed a base maybe it’s about time someone gives the Hubs a base.”  That was about five years ago…in that amount time he should have reaped a tree of bases.  This analogy lead me to consider the ground he sowed into:  Good ground?  Not so good ground?  Or maybe our hearts were not in the right place when we gave the base.  Our intentions may have been good but perhaps we were not really giving the base to God; maybe we were giving it to people who we wanted to approve of us.  We were giving out of their necessity.

How often do we do give out of other people’s necessity rather than out of just hearing from God?

Back when I was single,  our singles were taking a trip to Six Flags (amusement park).  I paid for two of my friends who wouldn’t have been able to go otherwise.  They both told me they didn’t have the money.  Seeing the need, I paid for their tickets.  Neither one of them thanked me.  I prayed about it.  I felt God say to me, “I was trying to teach them some things about managing their finances and you interfered.”   That was a long time ago and I”m still learning the lesson.

Stop giving out of necessity and ask God where you should be giving.

God really cracks me up.

Why?  Because I’ve never been in a situation of asking for financial support (other than on behalf of my church or a ministry).  We haven’t gone on missions trips, etc.  However, the Hubs was invited to speak/preach/minister at a family retreat up in the New Jersey area next month.  Because of our situation, when the Hubs takes off work, our personal finances are impacted for at least two months after the time off (Can you say “commission based”?)  Last summer he took off in July to attend an ARC conference in Birmingham, Alabama and for two months after the time off,  things were tight for us financially….we know what we are getting into committing to this trip. In other words, we are investing our lives and futures into expanding the Kingdom of God.   Even though, the church who invited us offered to pay for the Hubs’ flight, they cannot pay for our entire families’ flight.  I checked into it and just the flights for our family are about $2000.  So we are going to drive from Central Texas to New Jersey, hopefully swinging by to see some friends on the way back.  What’s my point?  Well, I was praying about this and I had a dream that I should set up a “gofundme” account.  So I did.  Over the years we have supported so many people going on missions trips.  I never thought we would be asking for support.  I haven’t really prayed much about God giving us a specific amount.  I believe God called us to do this as a family mission trip.  I believe that God will provide the financing we need.  In the past, I probably would have tried guilting people into giving.  Not this time. I trust that God is going to provide all the funding we need to get there, do what He has called us to do and get back and still meet every financial obligation here at home.  My one prayer in this is that we are “good ground” and whomever blesses us will be blessed a 1000 times over.    (Please don’t misconstrue this as a bribe to get you to give…if I was going to try to bribe you I would promise that if you give cheerful to our missions trip, God will love you more – I’m kidding, sort of…no really, I’m kidding).

Let’s just say this about it…”Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.” Philippians 4:17 (If Paul said it, I can say it….a little tongue in cheek).

The funny part to me is I’m telling you not to give out of just seeing a need even though we are the ones with the need.

The bottom line…prayerfully and cheerfully give from your heart wherever God leads you to give.  Consider your motive for giving.  Giving is one of those things….you always get something back whether it is the joy of blessing someone or the cheers or “thank yous” from others…giving is a two way street.   You cannot out-give God.

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