The Giving seasons are upon us. First we’ll focus on the Giving of Thanks. Then we focus on Giving Tuesday. And then there is the great push, pressure, panic of Christmas Giving. I wanted to share what God is brewing in my heart about His kind of giving.
Giving of Thanks. Sunday at New Wine Church we just released God Stories. My heart was so full after spending time bragging on our strong, healing, loving Father. Be sure to spend some time with someone you love and count your blessings. I mean it. Make a list and say them out loud. So good for your soul.
Giving Tuesday. I have an abundance of ministry emails and letters flowing into my inboxes. My own letter is going out shortly. There must be a better way to navigate all the needs. Here is one thing to try. For every “asking” letter we receive, or social media fundraiser we read, let’s stop and pray for that ministry. Each group really does need the fullness of Holy Spirit to do what they are doing.
Christmas Giving. Maybe, just maybe, the Grinch had it right. “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store.”
I have been pondering what it means to… slow…down… a… bit… and let the Spirit teach us about how to be generous.
One of my favorite passages on giving comes from 2 Corinthians. The whole chapter is amazing. But for now let’s look at verse 7.
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7
This word fraught with freedom. We get to choose. Decide. Determine. We get to decide: who is important to us, what issue is moving us, who is feeding our soul and spirit, who is in need? Obviously God cares THAT we give, but He also cares HOW we give.
Not Reluctant or Under Compulsion
“You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” NLT
God loves a person who gives cheerfully. Let that sink in.
Are we more concerned about how we look? Do we feel guilt or pressure to give? Or, are we motivated by love for the One who loves us, and loves that we give willingly, happily, trustingly, even cheerfully?
We love it when our kids share happily and cheerfully. I think God loves it when His kids do too.
Here is the beautiful equation about generosity. We give because God gives. We give because we trust God to refill our cups. We give because it pulls us out of unhealthy Me-syndromes. We give because we know that God does miracles with our two fish and five loaves. We practice “hilarious generosity” because it reveals that we are overflowing with the same hilarious abundance that God has.
What do we give?
Money. Sure it’s a real thing. Giving can be a real thermometer for how well we are trusting God financially. No shame here. Just a reality check. It all comes from Him. And He never runs out. So do we feel the freedom to share our money because we know God will replenish? Just sayin’.
There are other resources that God asks us to share as well.
• Our God stories. They are like seeds that reproduce once they are shared.
• Our food, clothes, possessions can be shared. Do we really NEED all that stuff?
• Our wisdom and skills. Others may need what we carry but we have to be willing to share and to sacrifice the time, effort and comfort to give to others.
• Hope. Peace. Grace. Love. More than cheesy Christian-ese these are tangible resources that we store up and give away to others.
I keep hearing in my spirit, “Am I willing to be hilarious generous all these things?”
Everyone is tapped out during the holidays. So it makes me question if we’re tapping into the overflow of Heaven and giving out of His abundance.
“Yes, God is more than ready to overwhelm you with every form of grace, so that you will have more than enough of everything—every moment and in every way. He will make you overflow with abundance in every good thing you do. “
Listen. I get the squeeze. I am just really confronted with “God loves a cheerful giver.” So what if we give a little less out of obligation and pressure but we give a whole lot more with honesty and hilarity?
Here is more of this passage out of the Passion Translation. Enjoy it. And ask the Spirit how you are doing with generosity. May all your Giving Seasons be full of cheer and overflow.
6 Here’s my point. A stingy sower will reap a meager harvest, but the one who sows from a generous spirit will reap an abundant harvest. 7 Let giving flow from your heart, not from a sense of religious duty. Let it spring up freely from the joy of giving—all because God loves hilarious generosity!8 Yes, God is more than ready to overwhelm you with every form of grace, so that you will have more than enough of everything—every moment and in every way. He will make you overflow with abundance in every good thing you do. 9 Just as the Scriptures say about the one who trusts in him:
Because he has sown extravagantly and given to the poor,
his kindness and generous deeds will never be forgotten.
10 This generous God who supplies abundant seed for the farmer, which becomes bread for our meals,is even more extravagant toward you. First he supplies every need, plus more. Then he multiplies the seed as you sow it, so that the harvest of your generosity will grow. 11 You will be abundantly enriched in every way as you give generously on every occasion, for when we take your gifts to those in need, it causes many to give thanks to God.
(Quote from Dr Seuss book The Grinch)