As we approach the holiday season, our focus often shifts to that of giving (and honestly, that of receiving). We buy, wrap, exchange and receive gifts galore. Some glamorous and sparkly, others a bit less desired. However, I feel like all too often gift exchanges are more or less out of obligation than rooted in a spirit of giving.
Giving is not always defined by gifts or money and it looks different to different people. I once had a pastor explain giving like this: when asked how much should we give, he replied: Give until it hurts and then keep giving until it doesn't hurt anymore. I couldn't agree more and have used this to guide my own giving in life. I also believe we should challenge ourselves to give things that have meaning to us -- this is where the "give until it hurts" part comes in. For example, if you are the type of person that values your time and is often focused on yourself (and really, who isn't these days!), dedicating your time in service to others is probably a good way to "give until it hurts". If money is something you struggle with, give money. Find what would be a sacrifice for you and give it away. If you find yourself placing too much value on any one thing, you might just challenge yourself to give that away. A couple of years ago, God challenged me to let go of something rather expensive I had once placed a ton of value on. After spending several weeks struggling with the nudge from God, I gave it away to a friend in need. To an outsider it made absolutely no sense. However, in my heart it just felt right. It was my sacrifice in giving. It hurt right up until the moment I gave it away.
Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your hard work and in everything you put your hand to.
Another struggle with giving is also being focused on ensuring what you give is put to "good use." No one wants to give to a scam and see his/her money, time or effort wasted' However, the beautiful thing about a spirit of giving, is your responsibility is only to give. You are not going to be held accountable for what the receiver does with your gift. It's the spirit and act of giving that counts! You have to give without reservation or stipulation. The spirit of giving is about giving. What the receiver does with the gift, is between God and him/her. Your role and responsibility is in the act of giving.
And God actually commands us to give to one another and His commandment to give extends past the holiday season. However, the celebration of Christmas provides us the absolute best example of giving. God gave until it hurt...He gave up the ultimate sacrifice. God gave us His one and only Son. I bet watching His Son die on the cross hurt - I actually can't imagine a greater sacrifice. But He gave to us without reservation. And His gift comes without stipulation. What WE do with His gift, is up to us. We can choose to accept it and use it to greater His kingdom or we can waste it.
For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
I am so incredibly thankful for God's Spirit of Giving. I can only hope to have an ounce of His Spirit of Giving.
Giving, sacrifice and blessings,
Just a few reflections about everything God is teaching me in this life...a journey deeper into His purpose for my life.