Giving and Living Generously

2-corinthians-9

“No one has ever become poor by giving” ~Anne Frank

I tell my kids the reward doesn’t matter.

They’re collecting nonperishable foods and paper goods for their schools to give to the local food pantry and homeless ministry.

They tell me which classes are in the lead in the school competition and whether they’re eligible for a pizza party if their whole class participates.  All these incentives are fun and good. I love how the school encourages the kids to participate in loving others in our community.

But the contests and the competitions, the rewards and prizes don’t matter in the end.

I tell my kids people in our community need food. People in our community are homeless.

I tell them how I drive past the food pantry on distribution days and see the long line of people waiting.

And we can help.

We’re not rich.  We can’t give huge donations of money.

But we want to give generously and that means giving whatever we can and then giving some more.

When we fill shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child , we want to press the lid down on a box full of good gifts to send to children overseas who may have nothing.

My kids do extra chores throughout the fall to earn money to buy a goat or some chickens, some soccer balls or school supplies for needy families.  On Christmas day, we go shopping on the Samaritan’s Purse website and buy these presents with the money they’ve earned.

When we bring in our food pantry items,  we don’t want to just reach into the back of the cabinet and clean out the extra cans we never used that are about to expire.

What if we planned out our donations instead:  spaghetti noodles and sauce…canned chicken and mayonnaise….juice, crackers, and fruit cups for lunch for the kids?  What if we donated as much as we can of Thanksgiving dinners for families?  Some canned yams and marshmallows, corn, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin and condensed milk?

Other families I know ring the Salvation Army bells together or serve up free community meals or cook dinners for those who are sick or hurting.

Families can give together and serve together because God wants us to live generously.  While we can’t do everything; we can do something to help others.

And living a generous life is about so much more than money.

How many times have I felt defeated, worn, overlooked or undervalued, and someone slips me that word of courage?  You are doing a great job.  I see you.  Well done.

Kind notes from a sweet friend can be an act of generous grace.

And how I have struggled, oh I have struggled, in anger about someone’s hurtful actions or words.

When I pray in the night and tell God all my woes, I hear it back, the whispered reminder:

EXTEND GENEROUS GRACE.

After all, God extends generous grace to me.  So surely I can overlook offense, can forgive, can pray for my enemies, and can respond with kindness.

We can be:

Generous with our money.

Generous with our talents.

Generous with our time and our attention.

Generous with encouragement.

Generous with grace.

Generous with forgiveness.

Generous with patience.

I consider Paul on those days when I want to stop answering the phone, stop reading emails, stop answering to the name, “Mom,” stop being responsible and doing things like making dinner and washing laundry.

On the days when I feel there’s more need than I can handle, I remember Paul, who said:

I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls…. (2 Corinthians 12:15a ESV)

and

Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all (Philippians 2:17 ESV).

and

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come (2 Timothy 4:6 ESV).

Paul chose to be spent, to be totally poured out for the sake of Others.

Oswald Chambers wrote,

Are you willing to give and be poured out until you are used up and exhausted–not seeking to be ministered to, but to minister?

Some days not so much.

And, while I understand the health of caring enough about ourselves as women and as moms so  we are healthy enough to care for others, I recognize this:

The calling to a generous life is a calling to pour out, to empty yourself in service, to love sacrificially and selflessly, not for our own purposes and not just for the benefit of those we love–but as an offering to the Lord.

And we can trust Christ with our supply and trust Him as our source–trust Him to fill us up, to enrich us so that we can “be generous on every occasion”  (2 Corinthians 9:11).

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