Learning to give is a significant aspect of being a Christian. It means stepping out of your comfort zone of Self. Seeing other people's needs. Joyfully letting go of something to bless someone with it. And most of all, remembering and loving Christ, the ultimate Gift and the ultimate Giver, the reason why we give and how we should give.
Love surrounds the concept of giving. It's a basic fact, yes, but it gets lost in the complications of relationships and duties as we get older. Paul takes time in the book of Philippians to dwell on this topic, as I found while studying it. Christian giving, as Search the Scriptures helped me define, should be motivated by love. Not out of duty or a sense of necessity. It should bond the giver and the receiver. It should be regular, reflecting the relationship it symbolizes, and the ongoing love that that relationship runs on.
This emphasis on the relationship and effect of giving, rather than just the exhortation to give, made me think twice about how I give. Sometimes, when we've been faithfully giving over a long period of time, we end up just focusing on the act of giving itself. We stop seeing it as an act of love and start seeing it as a practical meeting of a need, as a duty--which is only one aspect, and should be only one aspect, of giving. We give, like we give money to a distant, impersonal charity--we see the need, we acknowledge it needs to be met, and we donate accordingly. We haven't personally connected with anyone but we've 'done our part,' and we can feel satisfied.
We get lost in what we give rather than who we give to, or why we give at all. Meeting the need, whether an ongoing regular one or constantly changing little ones, becomes our focus. Someone needs something. Something needs to be done. We respond to the need while neglecting the person and the relationship. We busy ourselves with getting it done--perhaps grumbling a little--or feeling efficient.
Done. Ticked the box. Settled it.
In contrast, giving should always be a personal experience which bonds us to the person we give to. It should be an opportunity to remember Christ's love for us and our love for Him--and so, a humbling as well as joyful experience.
When was the last time your giving something made you feel humble and joyful?
I'm trying to remember for myself.
I am trying to stop looking only at the gift leaving my hands, or the empty hands I'm putting it into. I'm trying to look up, at the face before me, and beyond it.
a quiet voice
Ci thinks some of God's greatest blessings to mankind are
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