Tag

giving

Give it up

By | Envision, Personal

The malls are full of shoppers looking for the perfect gift.  Or as we get this close to Christmas, any gift.  (I’m thinking that the advent of online shopping has got to bring immense relief to a claustrophobic.  Never had thought of Amazon.com as a purveyor of emotional peace before.)  I wasn’t even shopping for gifts today, yet I managed to visit both the post office and Costco today.  Did I experience the Christmas spirit?

Don’t even check your mail box or email if you can’t handle the flood of advertisements or a barrage of appeals directed at your year-end giving.  (Full disclosure: yes, our ministry was among them.  Just once though – not every five minutes.)  Hold on to your wallet and your checkbook before good intentions drag you into debt.

So Dave, is this the part where you insist something is wrong with my perspective and offer a different one?

Don’t get me wrong – I like gifts.  I’ve even been known to buy myself gifts [insert appropriate gasp of shock here.]  But here’s the deal:

  1. You can only give from what you have.  Affection, wisdom, experience, cash, whatever – if you don’t possess it, you can’t give it away.
  2. If they don’t want it, they’re not going to receive it.  (Favorite phrase on Christmas morning: “Oh, this is lovely…”)
  3. The truth is, you’re the ultimate re-gifter: nothing you have is really yours anyway.  What you were born with was a gift from God.  Everything you’ve earned is a blessing from Him too.  (See James 1:16-17)  So why are you holding on to everything so tightly?

Philip James "Jim" Elliott (Oct 8, 1927 – Jan 8, 1956)

God has already shown us that it’s better to give than to receive.  It just takes humanity longer to accept it.  (Though researchers have indeed found this to be true – see the Science Central Archive or the original study.)  He modeled true gift giving in Christmas and Easter – by giving Himself through His incarnation and redeeming us through His crucifixion and resurrection.  (How long we take to accept that is also up to us.)  As written in Romans 5:8, God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

The best gift you can receive is Jesus.  He gave up His life for you.  The best gift you can give is the Gospel – the good news of Jesus Christ.  And the best way to give it is through your life.  Even if you have to give it up.  It isn’t yours anyway.

(In the words that Jim Elliott paraphrased from Scripture: He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep in order to gain what he cannot lose.)

My Part, God’s Part

By | Envision, Headfirst, Personal

A hinge can only function with two engaged and matching halves

There are many theological dynamics to the concept of “My Part / God’s Part” –  after all, if God the Father planned salvation, God the Son accomplished salvation and God the Spirit applied salvation, then my part is simply to receive salvation.  Easy enough?

So once I’m saved – by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone – what’s the division of labor between me and God as I step into the good works created beforehand for me to walk in? (see Ephesians 2:8-10.)

I’ve been thinking about this for a very practical reason – trusting God to provide for our family’s financial needs.  That’s something pretty much anyone can relate to, especially right now in the world economy.  For our family, the nuance is that all of our funding comes from God through His people contributing to our ministry.  I have a job, and it doesn’t matter how many hours I work – if people don’t give to the ministry, there’s nothing for me to be paid.  So fundraising becomes a spiritual endeavor, much like evangelism: it’s my part to initiate with people and tell them the news (e.g. God loves them, Christ died and rose again to forgive sin, you can be our partner in bringing the Gospel to those who’ve never heard) and it’s God part to move in their hearts and reveal who responds.  I have no control over who receives Christ, nor over who chooses to join with us and give back to the Lord through our ministry.

Here’s where I recognized a rebuke from the Holy Spirit – I decided that God wasn’t providing adequately for our needs, and I became frustrated and angry with Him.  After all, wasn’t I doing my part?  I’d been inviting people to join us as ministry partners.  So if I was doing my part, and we still had such a significant need – that meant that God wasn’t doing His part.  (My guess is that you can relate to getting frustrated or mad at God for your circumstances.)  After all, Moses raised his staff and the sea parted, right?  Elijah called down fire from heaven and the offering was burned up.  Hey God, in case You hadn’t noticed, I’ve been sitting here and praying and I’d like to see some supernatural action, okay?

The truth is that I wasn’t doing my part.  As my heart was convicted, I asked myself: have you truly done everything in your power or ability?  Or have you only done what you were willing to do, and then blamed God for not responding?  Could He be waiting for you to step out in faith, to go beyond your comfort zone, to truly trust in Him alone for your needs?

So it became much clearer who I should be frustrated and angry with – me.  I haven’t been doing my part.  Once I’ve done everything within my power, everything humanly possible, I can go back and seek Him out and…  give thanks for the ways He has answered and provided.

P.S.  Your equation of “My Part, God’s Part” may not be financial, it may be something else.  I expect that the principle still holds true in your circumstances.

Giving Well

By | Equip, Involve

I was asked to write a two-part article on “Choosing a Cause and Giving Well.”  Here is part two of the article, which is also available as a pdf download.  (Or jump to Part 1: Choosing a Cause.)

You’ve chosen a cause you believe in – but are you really making a difference?  There’s more to it than the size of your gift.  Giving well is wisely stewarding what you have and making a life impact with it.  From a biblical perspective, everything you have belongs to God, and you are to steward those resources while they’re in your possession – which is a process of giving it back to him.   If you observe the biblical practice of tithing, please note that giving well is about giving above and beyond your tithe. Read More

Choosing a Cause

By | Equip, Involve

I was asked to write a two-part article on “Choosing a Cause and Giving Well.”  Here is part one of the article, which is also available as a pdf download.

Let’s be honest – hundreds of books have been written on stewardship and charitable giving.  This brief article isn’t meant to compete with those books, but to supplement them with a simple set of criteria to help the average person make a few wise choices and get connected quickly with quality causes.

Passionate Connection

Frankly, I lose interest in a cause that I don’t connect with.  Media I see requesting money often feels manipulative, playing on my guilt.  I’m told I must “hurry” to give because the world may end without my immediate involvement.  If an appeal touches my heart, that’s fine.  If a request shames my conscience, I will find another place to give. Read More