(Photo by Selma Komisky)
How-To: Know the Wonder of Giving
By Zelda Dominguez
I recently heard a story of a pastor who saw a woman at his church and was compelled to give her something. He reached in his wallet and all he had was a five dollar bill. He felt God telling him to give it to the woman. He thought, five dollars is so little, what is she going to say? After struggling, he willingly went over to the woman and handed her the five dollars. She looked at him and began to hug him and cry. She went on to say that she really wanted to attend church that night but her car had little gas. She decided to go in faith believing God would provide her a way back home. The five dollars she said was an answer to my prayer.
- We never really know how God can work through our giving, no matter how small it is. The return is a blessing; the pastor walked away blessed as well. The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed (Proverbs 11:25, NLT).
- Another thing about giving is that the attitude behind it matters. Giving should be a joyful experience. 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 (2 Corinthians 9:7, NLT). Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to (Deuteronomy 15:10, NLT). Has anyone ever given you something with a scowl? If you have ever had such an experience, then imagine how God must feel when His children—the ones He has gifted with life itself—are too selfish to share with others.
The simple point is this: We have been given, so we can give. When we fail to understand this, we break the heart of God!
- Remember, God doesn’t expect us to give what we don’t have. There is no place in Christian giving for competition or comparison to others. It is a private and personal thing. When therefore you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing that your alms may be in secret: and your Father who sees in secret will repay you (Matthew 6:2-4, NAS).
- Our giving is never to be done for human acknowledgement or our own praise. The only one to please is God and He doesn’t care how many dollars you give compared to anyone else.
- Giving can be a form of praise and worship. Once again Christmas nears and we will be celebrating the birth of Christ. One of the main reasons we have the custom of giving and receiving presents at Christmas is to remind us of the wise men coming to worship Jesus by bringing gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh.
I was about eight when I was invited to a classmate’s birthday party. Her name was Denise and she lived up the street from me. It was raining that day, but I was still able to go to her party. I was the first to arrive. I noticed the long dining room table was set with party plates, a tablecloth, party favors, cake, and food. She and I awkwardly waited for the other guests. Finally, her mother had us sit at the table to eat. I remember I felt sad for her that no one else came to celebrate her birthday. In a way, at Christmas, I think people are too busy and miss celebrating Jesus’ Birthday! For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16, NLT). Let us worship and celebrate Him. One way is by giving back.
Giving comes in all forms. What are your resources? If you’re a stylist, perhaps you can give free haircuts? What are your skills? Believe me, the smallest gesture can make the hugest impact. I heard of women whose family had already grown and left the house, but she still cooked in large portions. One day she felt like giving the food away instead of wasting it. She made 11 plates of food and headed out to the park. When she arrived, she approached a woman with children. The woman looked up and told her that she had just asked God if he could just feed her children that night!
Be creative and intentional starting this season. It can be as simple as a hug or smile. Perhaps giving flowers, a meal, groceries, babysitting, a cup of coffee, or housecleaning. Give a genuine compliment daily, bring a treat to work and share with coworkers, visit in the hospital, donate blood, pay for someone’s layaway, bake and take cookies to a fire or police station, mow someone’s lawn, help a senior citizen put up lights or decorate, tutor, or give away your used shoes or jackets to the homeless.
There are many worthy organizations, ministries, and non-profits online where you can give financially. But hopefully, this will cause you to think of how you can give of yourself and time, not only this month, but as you begin the new year and throughout. I know you will be blessed.