'Tis the season for giving
Though Christians are called on to give all through the year- to church, to each other, to causes- Christmas is especially a time when we think of others. We have the annual Lottie Moon offering, Christmas gifts to buy and give to friends and family, and end of year corporate tax donation drives from Christian organizations, asking for a gift- any gift- just one more time.
Giving should be a joy. It is to the glory of God that we support our pastors (1 Timothy 5:17) and our church ministries. (2 Corinthians 9:7). We love not knowing what the right hand is doing when we give to friends (1 John 3:17) or those in need. (Matthew 6:2-4). We enjoy supporting causes the Spirit has impressed upon us to join with in His work.
I love giving. But I'm selfish, so I have to unclench my fist first. I'm working on it. So I listen to sermons that preach giving and when I read the bible I don't skip over the parts that tell me to give. I also pray a lot over my selfishness.
Once I heard a John MacArthur sermon and for the life of me I do not remember the verse being explained or the topic. But I do remember the part when he talked about the lottery.
I don't make a lot of money. OK, that's an understatement. I live paycheck to paycheck and the smallest of disasters or emergencies will put me out. But the Lord is faithful and though I have had emergencies and disasters I've come through just fine. He is faithful! He has proven this over and over- in the bible and to me personally. But even still, I play the imaginary lottery game sometimes.
Even though I don't actually play, I imagine. "IF I won...what I'd do with all that money". However, MacArthur said that the lottery doesn't enter into it. A raise at work doesn't enter into it. A bequeathment doesn't enter into it. A giving person is a giving person. A non-giving person doesn't suddenly become a giving person when a pile of money lands in their lap. Often, the opposite will be true.
The sermon below isn't the one I'd heard, because it's from 20 years ago and what I heard was recent. I can't find the recent one but here is the same gist from his older sermon:
Some people say, “Well, if I just had more I’d give more.” No, I’ve heard that. You always hear them say, “If I had $1 million I’d give it over here and I’d give…if I could just win the lottery. Oh man, if I could just win the lottery.” The question is not what would you do with $1 million. The question is what are you doing with this $4.00 you’ve got in your pocket. What are you doing with the $10.00? What are you doing with the $20.00 or the $60.00? That’s the issue, because Ecclesiastes 5:10-11 says, “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money. When good things increase, those who consume them increase.”Speaking of that $4.00 in your pocket. I remember one time years ago, I didn't give at church that week. I said to myself I didn't have enough to give. The offering plate came down our crowded pew, and the women next to me was an 85 year old widow. She was saved when she was 75. After years of going to church and believing herself saved when she was 75 it actually occurred. I loved her testimony of what the Lord did for her in salvation at her advanced years- and preserving her life until she was saved. Anyway, as the plate neared her, she uncurled her arthritic hand and two quarters slid out and into the plate. She passed the plate to me. I didn't have 'enough' to give? I had two quarters in my wallet right at that moment!
Her widow's mite put me to shame.
I never forgot the chagrin I felt. That was when I asked the Lord to help me with giving. He is faithful in all things and He has been faithful in this too.
Now that some years have passed and the Lord has grown me, I am loving giving now. Not just money, but time, food, service, attention. Whatever I have on me at that moment, I give. The Lord has blessed me and when others give to me, it humbles me and just makes me want to give more.
Will the circle be unbroken? I hope not.
As this season progresses please give generously. Missionaries in the field depend on us. The poor have needs. Ministries at church should be well-stocked with Sunday School materials, curricula, items necessary to edify and educate. Widows need attending to. Children and orphans are wasting away before our noses. It's not that you don't have enough to give, but what are you doing with what you DO have?
“Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store” Deuteronomy 28:5 [Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)] Obedience brings a blessing on all the provisions which our industry earns for us. That which comes in and goes out at once, like fruit in the basket which is for immediate use, shall be blest; and that which is laid by with us for a longer season shall equally receive a blessing. Perhaps ours is a handbasket portion. We have a little for breakfast, and a scanty bite for dinner in a basket when we go out to do our work in the morning. This is well, for the blessing of God is promised to the basket. If we live from hand to mouth, getting each day’s supply in the day, we are as well off as Israel; for when the Lord entertained His favored people He Only gave them a day’s manna at a time. What more did they need? What more do we need? But if we have a store, how much we need the Lord to bless it! For there is the care of getting, the care of keeping, the care of managing, the care of using; and, unless the Lord bless it, these cares will eat into our hearts, till our goods become our gods, and our cares prove cankers. O Lord, bless our substance. Enable us to use it for thy glory. Help us to keep worldly things in their proper places, and never may our savings endanger the saving of our souls. (Faith’s Checkbook, C.H, Spurgeon (Page 73)