Thursday, June 27, 2013

Moved to give

Give:  to present voluntarily and without expecting compensation; to place in someone's care; provide or contribute.  There are various ways we are called to "give" of ourselves everyday - from out time to our talent, from our money to our mentoring, from our treasure to our trust.  The scripture is plain about the attitude which should be behind our giving.  The attitude we exhibit may not be the genuine one we feel, though.  If you don't believe me, remember when you put the last "gift" in the offering plate at church or wrote out the last donation check to the local charity you supported.  Now, honestly, was your heart "moved" in that moment of giving, or was it kind of just because you felt a little tug on the emotions?  Most of the time, we give because we are "moved upon" by our emotions - so we need to make sure our emotions are in line with what God has in mind, right?  Why do you think there are so many commercials with sad looking dogs, cats, seals, polar bears, and the like?  The picture paints the story better than words - so the charities tell you how bad things are for stray animals, but they also show you those sad eyes on that hound dog!  Why?  To play on your emotions!  God doesn't play on our emotions - he asks us to put our emotions under his control and then allow him to direct how it is we will express them in our giving.

Give freely and spontaneously. Don’t have a stingy heart. The way you handle matters like this triggers God, your God’s, blessing in everything you do, all your work and ventures. There are always going to be poor and needy people among you. So I command you: Always be generous, open purse and hands, give to your neighbors in trouble, your poor and hurting neighbors.  (Deuteronomy 15:10-11 MSG)

There is another passage which almost mirrors the intent of this one:

Remember: A stingy planter gets a stingy crop; a lavish planter gets a lavish crop. I want each of you to take plenty of time to think it over, and make up your own mind what you will give. That will protect you against sob stories and arm-twisting. God loves it when the giver delights in the giving.  God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done.  (2 Corinthians 9:6-8 MSG)

Looking at our two passages, there are some key elements which are instructions on how it is we are to give - whether it is of our time, talent, or treasure.

* There is to be no stinginess in our giving.  The root of stinginess is either in greed or a lack of trust. Greed shows a heart which is moved to think of self first.  A lack of trust is simply a sign we have not entered fully into committing our plans and purposes to God's care.  Either way, we fall short of what God desires of us as it comes to giving.  We are to allow God to change our hearts so we see the needs of others, not just our own.  We are to draw near enough to Jesus so as to take him at his Word - he says he will provide for all our needs, so when we begin to anchor our faith in his Word as truth for our lives, we begin to enter into trusting him for our needs to be met, even if we give what we have to those in need.

* Giving is to be intentional.  Our passages both refer to putting your mind into the mix.  Giving is to be done with forethought, intent, and a known purpose.  In other words, you don't give out of an emotional tug on your heart, but out of an intentional preparation to meet the needs of others.  For example, if you travel a path which takes you past many homeless people on your way to work every day, you might want to invest in a few meal coupons from a local fast food restaurant.  As you stop at those lights where you'd see them you could give them a hot meal by giving them the coupon.  Now, this may not seem like much, but it is intentional - it meets the most important need in the life of the one standing there at the moment.  The same is true when we are thinking about meeting the needs of our co-workers, family, and other relations.  Good relationships come together because there is intentional thought into what will "add to" the cohesiveness and growth of the relationship.  It is with intention we are to "give into" those relationships.

Both passages deal with the outcome of our giving - it moves God's heart!  Now, it doesn't escape my attention that some may think we should give in order to get.  I don't think for a moment that this is what God had in mind in these two passages!  In fact, he simply reminds us of the intention of his heart - for he is the ultimate "giver"!  He gives with intent.  From creation to salvation - all is with intent.  He gives without holding back.  It costs him much to give his Son for our sins, but he did not hold back the only sacrifice capable of bringing our restoration.  He gives in such a way it counts.  In other words, his gifts aren't just nice trinkets - they are the real-deal, meeting the most important needs we have at the moment.

We are asked to give all the time - how we choose to give is another story.  It isn't the volume of what you give which matters - it is the intent behind the gift!  Just sayin!

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