The Giving in ThanksGiving.
I watched this video a few weeks ago and was really touched by it. It's relatively simple...a boy asks a few people to share their food and they immediately say no. Then the boy asks a homeless man to share his pizza and he does. It is just such a real example of how a giving spirit should work. Nothing fancy, just a true spirit of giving.
In a few days most of us will celebrate Thanksgiving and while we usually focus on the "thanks" in the holiday, we forget to acknowledge the giving in "Thanksgiving". The holiday is not only about being thankful but also about having a spirit of giving. And honestly, I've learned an awful lot about giving this past year--a lesson I wasn't really ready to learn but God had different plans. If you would have asked me a year ago if I thought my year would have been characterized by giving, I would have thought you were crazy. I was still picking up pieces of my life and living with very little. The beginning of last December I moved into a house without a single piece of furniture...okay I"m lying, I had a $99 desk from Target I bought 4 years ago when I started grad school. So I was living in a a newly rented house, with a desk. If you told me I would be spending my year "giving" things away, I would have said, "just what am I going to give away?" Oh me of so little faith. Even when we think we have nothing...God finds things for us to give.
And through many acts of giving, I learned an interesting lesson...it's not about what the receiver does with the gift, it is the act of giving that matters. I've heard stories where people didn't give because of a distrust in what the receiver was going to do with the money or gift. For example, the street beggar that claims to need money to feed his/her children and instead uses the money to buy drugs. Well I promise, if you feel led to give you aren't going to be held accountable to what the beggar does with your offering. When we stand before the LORD someday, we are held accountable to our own actions. Not the actions of those we gave to. So if you feel led to give, give without reservation. Give without stipulation. Give without commitment from the receiver. Just give.
This past year I have been blessed with many opportunities to give to others and it has left me so incredibly humbled and feeling nothing but blessed. For the first time in my life, I have truly felt what Jesus described in the act of giving:
"In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus how he himself said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."
When people think about giving, it is usually in the context of giving money. And there is often a question of how much do you really need to give to obey God? I listened to a pastor answer this question once saying, "give until it hurts and then keep giving until it stops hurting." How brutally honest and profound!
2 Corinthians 9:7
You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don't give reluctantly or in response to pressure. "For God loves a person who gives cheerfully."
My context of giving expanded WAY WAY WAY outside of money this past year. The things I felt led to 'give away' are still outside of my realm of understanding. But as I look back on the various opportunities I've been blessed 'to give' this past year, I feel absolutely no loss. The empty spots from the things that used to exist (the things I've given away) are filled with warmth. I cannot even begin to describe the feeling...I can only challenge others to give in order to feel it.
2 Corinthians 8:2-5
They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity. For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will.
So this year, as we celebrate ThanksGIVING...remember the giving. For it's in the giving that we truly find Thanksgiving.
Giving, receiving and blessing,
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Just a few reflections about everything God is teaching me in this life...a journey deeper into His purpose for my life.