All too often in Christian and Church circles, I think we tend to have an automatic assumption of what giving is. We assume it to be financial. Perhaps however it is a little more multi-faceted than this. Bear with me, as I share some thoughts and personal experiences of giving.
Stephen and I have friends in Manchester, UK, who run a charity called “The Message Trust”; a radical, culturally-charged and dynamic organisation that present and share the Gospel with the kids and youth of their city. One way they do this is through the “Eden Project”. Young school leavers or graduates from college or university move into homes on various estates around the city, with the sole purpose of befriending the youth and families around their homes. They don’t go door-to-door or even invite them to church or a community group. They are just being “salt and light” in everyday ways so that people might see Jesus. Many of these kids really don’t know Jesus other than as a swear word; but here normal Christ-followers are being Jesus and showing Him off in their daily lives and environments. It is a long-term commitment where these Christians share their lives and hearts in a place of real darkness and need.
I have two other dear friends much closer to home who are phenomenal in giving and blessing families with meals and flowers. These ladies both live really busy lives themselves but so easily and generously fit it in to get food to people who are in a place of need or difficulty. They never make a big deal of it and are so willing and quick to respond.
Another friend of mine lives in another city. Yet I know she regularly prays for me and my family. She also shares with me the things or pictures God gives her for me. She is a real and huge source of encouragement to me and I am so grateful for her.
Sometimes giving is solely financial. Many years ago whilst on tour, our MIC 1 ton truck broke – the gearbox was gone and it was going to cost R12 000 to repair it. That same week, a business man who we didn’t know “randomly” gave us R10 000. When we met with him to thank him and share how God had used him to help us in our need, he pulled out his wallet and gave us the other R2 000, saying that God had always told him to give us R12 000. Wow!
There is absolutely and often quite a cost to any form or expression of giving. It is something that so many of us, myself included, easily and readily makes excuses to avoid or ignore. To give, to share our lives, to devote ourselves to one another is simply rather counter-cultural. Yet it is profoundly Biblical. Jesus is our ultimate example, giving quite literally His all for each of us on the Cross. And He calls us to follow Him in obedience, not out of compulsion but out of a regenerated heart.
“Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless – cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything – encores to the end of time. Oh yes!”
Stephen has a pet saying; “To spend yourself on others.” What could this look like in our often fast, me-centred, driven world?
To come to church or to community group to give of yourself to others – to engage with others, to ask of others, to talk away from yourself
To give fully of yourself in your marriage and family – to talk, to listen, to leave the phone or social media, to dream about your life and future together
To come to God with all you are – to be real and vulnerable before your Father
To be a real and authentic friend – to listen, to share, to try something
To give – of yourself, your heart, your talents and yes, even your money
Let us, as a community of believers, as a collection of Churches across our city, spend ourselves on others and give lavishly and generously that our city would be touched and people’s lives eternally changed.
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