The Joy of Giving
Be honest: Have you ever dreaded going through the checkout line because you knew the cashier was going to ask you, “Would you like to donate to the Cancer Foundation? Maybe you’ve avoided the entrance with the Salvation Army volunteers ringing their bells because you just didn’t want to deal with it. We live in a materialistic culture that places overwhelming value on money. We focus on how much money we have, how we can accumulate more, how we can lose less, and what kinds of nice things we can purchase. We go to school in order to obtain a job that will provide plenty of money, go into debt to buy the nicest house on the block, save up to buy name brand clothes and accessories, and do whatever it takes to get the newest model car. Of course we know deep down that we should be generous with our money, but how do we truly experience the joy of giving?
The truth of the matter is that God owns everything, including “my money. This means I am His “money manager, responsible for taking care of the money He has entrusted to me. God has not blessed me financially so that I can own the latest iPhone, drive the newest Lexus, or vacation in exotic locations. On the contrary, He blesses me so that His generosity will overflow from my heart to others, pointing them to Him. Although we work hard for it, the money we earn is not ours – God provided us with the opportunities and abilities to make money in the first place. His goal is not my comfort; His purpose is His glory and His kingdom.
We so easily forget where our true home is. We invest so much in our earthly lives, even though we will spend forever elsewhere. Ultimately, this means that any money we spend that isn’t used for eternal purposes is wasted. Of course it is not a sin to purchase a coffee, but what kind of eternal value does that coffee have? I’m not saying you can’t go to Starbucks, but I do think we should be more intentional about allocating our finances to make an eternal impact. For example, perhaps it is more beneficial to take your unsaved friend to Starbucks and buy both of you a cup of coffee while you sit and talk about salvation. That cup of coffee would have eternal impact. Jesus Himself tells us in Matthew 6 not to store up treasures for ourselves on Earth, where moths and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal. Nothing we purchase here on Earth will make it with us to Heaven, so why do we get so caught up in these things? When we surrender this materialistic mindset and adopt an attitude of generosity, we experience the joy of giving.
Jesus tells us, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. If you are unsure about how your financial habits measure up, take a look at how you spend your money. Your heart always goes where you put God’s money. If you consistently spend it on your appearance and possessions, that is where your affections lie. If you examine yourself and find that you are not spending your money in light of eternity, there is hope for change: GIVING is the only antidote for materialism. Jesus said we can’t serve both Him and money, so choose Him. Serve God with your money by giving generously. The more you give toward His purpose, the less consumed with worldly possessions you will be. In the famous words of Jim Elliot, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.
God prospers us not to raise our standard of living, but to raise our standard of giving. On the subject of how much we ought to give, C.S. Lewis offers, “I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charities expenditure excludes them. Particular cases of distress among your own relatives, friends, neighbors, or employees, which God forces upon your notice, may demand much more – even to the crippling and endangering of your own position. Mark 12 speaks of a poor widow who did just that; she gave her final two coins, all that she owned, to the church. Jesus referred to her as more generous than the individuals who gave out of their surplus. This woman found the joy of giving when she refused to hold on to her earthly possessions and instead gave everything.
2nd Corinthians 8 gives us a similar example: Paul says the Macedonian church’s extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity, as they gave even more than they were able. They even urgently pleaded for this privilege. I don’t know about you, but the thought of giving everything I have scares me. How did the Macedonian churches do it? They found the joy of giving. They knew that God had given to them so that they would give to others, and they remembered that their true citizenship was in Heaven. With these things in mind, they were able to give freely and joyfully instead of reluctantly and anxiously.
When you find yourself avoiding the charity volunteers or begrudgingly dropping your check in the offering plate simply because you know you’re supposed to, remember what Jesus has done for you. Not only did He give His everything for you in His life and death, but He has also given you more than you need here on Earth. Let your gratitude to Him overflow in generosity towards others. Maybe that means writing a check to your church every month, or perhaps it will look more like hosting and providing Thanksgiving dinner for your friends when you would rather save some extra cash to spend on Black Friday sales. There are many different ways to give; follow the Spirit’s prompting, and embrace the joy that giving brings.
If you don’t know where to start, Giving Tuesday is next week, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home could use your help! We have the privilege of seeing the eternal value of money firsthand, as the gifts we receive help turn troubled young men’s lives around by pointing them to Jesus, breaking the chains of addiction, and healing broken relationships. In this case, the value of your donation will be automatically doubled, as our Board has agreed to match your contributions up to $10,000. Your generosity can make an impact far beyond the here and now, and we can attest to the joy that brings every day!
Paul Anderson Youth Home
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