Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sacrificial Giving

The last couple of months I’ve been thinking a lot about giving, and more specifically what sacrificial giving looks like. As an American, I have a lot of “stuff.” Some of it is more valuable than others, but none of it has eternal value. In the end, what I have on this earth is going to make absolutely no difference to anyone, so why don’t I always live like it?

My junior year of college, I stayed on skid row at the Union Rescue Mission for a week. Each afternoon I spent time helping with their program for homeless children who were staying at the mission. At the time, I had a red rubber bracelet that had some cheesy Christian saying on it that I wore most of the time. I distinctly remember that while we were playing a soccer game with the kids, a little boy, Junior, came up to me and asked me if he could have my bracelet, and I actually had to think about it before I said yes. Granted, it was only a couple seconds before I gladly gave it to him, but it really made me sad that I would even have to think before giving this kid, who had close to nothing, a stupid rubber bracelet. At this point, I determined that I never wanted to be stingy in my giving, but instead to be generous but also wise with both my money and my possessions.

Fast forward to the present…I was really excited when I found out that our Sunday school class had adopted a needy family in town. For about five days, I spent a lot of time in prayer trying to determine the amount that I should give. Since Friday was payday, I decided that I would give half of whatever my paycheck was to this family. It seemed to be a practical way I could live out a biblical command (Matt. 22:39), that if I was loving this family as I loved myself, I would give as much money to them as I kept for myself. So Sunday rolls around, I give my money and go on with life. The next week I realize that my student loan payment, my credit card bill, and my car payment were all due within two days of each other. One of my first thoughts was “if I could have deposited my whole paycheck into my checking account, I wouldn’t have to shuffle my money around.” As I thought about it more I was really convicted, and I realized that although I might have the concept down of actually giving money, that I gave without expecting to live any differently because of it. And it wasn’t even that I didn’t have the money, just that I had to move it around from different banks.

Since the Go Conference, I’ve also been thinking and praying about how much to give to the Lottie Moon Christmas offering this year. I pray that the Lord has changed my attitude, and that He will allow me to give with the right attitude. I think that I’m a little more prepared this time. I want to give more than I have in the past and I pray that it does stretch me.

I want to have to live differently and to give up some material things because of how I give to the church, to missions and to others, and I want to do it so that God gets the glory and to further His kingdom here on earth. I pray that I would not get caught up spending my money on trivial things, but that I would spend my money thinking about the fact that my treasure is not on earth, but in heaven.

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