July 18, 2019
Think about what questions you will be asked at the close of your life on earth. Nathan Schaeffer says, The question will not be, “How much have you got? but “How much have you given?” not “How much have you won?” but “How much have you done?” not “How much have you saved?” but “How much have you sacrificed?” It will be, “How much have you loved and served?” not “How much were you honored?”
“Selfishness is the greatest curse of the human race.” W.E. Gladstone. Before looking for a way to get, look for way to give. When you hear a person is in need, don’t think, “OMG! Somebody needs to help them,” without first asking God if you’re ‘the somebody’ He wants to use. I love to give in a variety of ways. I do not have everything, but thank God I have something to give. Every morning, I ask God to direct me to someone who needs help. Often, he creates opportunities for me to give, no matter how minuscule, to people in dire situations- money, attention, prayers etc. Trust me, those days are the best. Nothing is as fulfilling as giving someone who wouldn’t pay you back— you know your reward is in heaven. The secret to living is giving. Giving gladdens my heart. Sometimes, I wish I could change the world in an instant. The more I think about others, the less time I have to concentrate on myself and my own problems. The less I think about myself, the happier I am. When you wipe tears off a person’s face, God sends someone to wipe yours. It may not happen immediately, but it certainly will at the time you least expect it. God usually shows up for me in the most unusual way – He literally blows my mind. I don’t have to fear that my needs won’t be met, because He always takes care of my needs. Just give and don’t worry about getting it back. God will take care of that.
Giving is not entirely unselfish because a giver always receives. Think about people you could help, today. Perhaps, they just need an encouragement. Perhaps, they need to talk to you and you could bless them by just listening. Find them and bless them- they could be your next door neighbor. Be creative and pray for God to show you ways to be able to bless people. Jesus is a giver, and same is expected of every true believer. If you want to start a charity organization, you don’t wait until a trillion hits your account. You get to work with whatever you have. Go to schools, there are pupils who have been driven out of their classes because they aren’t able to pay their fees. Offset their bills, buy food for destitute, visit people at the hospital, and give out that big bag filled with dresses that has sat in your wardrobe for decades collecting dust. Take an inventory of what you don’t use and give them out. The change you leave for that old woman, who hawks fruits and vegetables, is a whole blessing. You will not understand how huge a hundred naira is until you have twenty five kobo in your bank account. God acknowledges the little you give out of nothing more than a million given by someone who is buoyant. Recall what Jesus said about the poor widow who put her two mites (her entire livelihood) into the treasury, “Truly I say to you that this widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in the entire livelihood that she had.” Luke 21:1-4. No one truly has it all; no one ever will. So, do not wait until you have it all to give. Giving revives our concern for people. As we focus on the needs of others, and give to help meet those needs, we experience joy.
Have you noticed there’s something pathological about the poor? If you have spent substantial time with the poor, you’d realize that they lack the spirit of giving. Most of them have the habit of taking and taking without giving. To them, they are the poorest on the planet and everyone should cater to them. Sadly, they remain what they think of themselves- poor. A poor person who isn’t a giver will hardly care about others if he becomes rich. Giving isn’t about the amount of money in your pocket. Giving is borne out of love and compassion for a fellow human. Giving shows you have conquered greed. I have met poverty, I have eaten poverty, I have drunk poverty, and I have slept and caressed poverty. Even at my lowest point, I still reached out to people I was better than. I remember giving out the last penny I had to a homeless beggar. I had a home, but he had none, I was sure of my next meal, but he wasn’t; so, I considered myself rich enough to help. I can’t begin to enumerate the number of blessings that came from that gesture- the kind of blessings that would make one tremble with excitement. A spirit of generosity causes a person to give even when it seems unreasonable to do so. The apostle Paul speaks of the generosity of the churches in Macedonia. Even though they were experiencing an ordeal of severe tribulation and deep poverty, they had so much joy giving generously. They gave according to their ability and even beyond their ability. 2 Corinthians 8:2-3. Every true Christian should be inspired by this part of the scripture. My sons always look for a way to help people; both are outrageous, radical givers. They share whatever they have with the needy; no matter how little. I’m happy that they not only listen to the word of God, but put it into practice.
The only way to show gratitude is lending a helping hand to those who are laden with greater challenges. Your problems aren’t as huge as you think. If you doubt it, ask that middle aged man and his four children whose landlord has thrown out in the biting cold, visit the maternity ward at a local hospital and ask that woman who had her baby three months ago but is yet to be discharged from the hospital because she hasn’t paid her bills. How about the woman who lost her triplets at birth? Have a one on one discussion with the barrow pusher who earns only a pittance after his daily struggles, listen to that young girl who lost her entire family in a plane crash… the list is endless. If we all threw our problems in the bin and saw everyone else’s, we would quickly grab ours, strap them tightly to our waists and run happily with them. Life is hard, but we could make it easy and enjoyable if we stopped being selfish and greedy. We can conquer greed and selfishness by giving. Contentment is key to conquering greed. Like the apostle Paul, I have schooled myself to be content with whatever I have. I have joy like a river not because I’m the wealthiest woman in the world, but because I have mastered the act of contentment. “Contentment isn’t trimming down your desires. Contentment means living with a sense of God’s adequacy, a conviction that God is adequate for any need we face.” Gary Hardin. Why do I have to worry about my nude bank account or food I’ll eat the following day when God is adequate for any need I face?
Can giving be wrong?
Yes, giving is wrong when…
1. It enables laziness: There’s a healthy looking woman who always sits at the entrance of my church with her four children. Even when there isn’t mass going on, she’s sat with her stainless bowl, well positioned in between her thighs. One day, my mom pulled over and beckoned her. She ran feverishly with her empty bowl smiling from ear to ear; her children also ran along. Much to her consternation, my mom wasn’t there to give her a penny. She was there for a better offer. “I want to start a business for you? You could sell fruits and vegetables rather than spending your entire life a beggar.” She took a step backwards, then another, averting her gaze. “I need money not business. Thank you.” She walked away with her kids. Taking two steps backwards showed she didn’t want to move forward. She probably has taken an oath with poverty and should be allowed to relish every bit of it. Giving is wrong when you give to a lazy person. The scripture says a man who isn’t willing to work shouldn’t expect to eat. Thessalonians 3:10. It’s sin to give to someone who is able to support herself, but refuses to do so. Jesus isn’t lazy and doesn’t expect us to be.
2. The motive is wrong: When you give with the attitude of what’s in it for me, you are in reality purchasing something. When you cannot give without expecting something in return, you aren’t truly generous. We should give generously, not expecting anything from the one we give to, but knowing that God blesses and rewards us. “But when you spread a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; and you’ll be happy because they have nothing with which to repay you. For you will be repaid in the resurrection of the righteous ones.” Luke 14:13-14. Give with no strings attached.
3. It interferes with your responsibility: When giving interferes with your responsibility at home, it is no longer giving, but lack of wisdom. Charity begins at home. How unreasonable and foolish is a man who leaves his family to wallow in poverty whilst he builds houses for the less privileged, feeds and clothes them. “Certainly, if anyone does not provide for those who are his own, and especially for those who are members of his household, he has disowned the faith and worse than a person without faith.” 1 Timothy 5:8.
4. It is done to impress people: Christ admonishes us to perform our religious duties in private so that people will not see what we do. “So, when you give something to a needy person, do not make a big show of it, as the hypocrites do in the houses of worship and on the streets. They do it so that people will praise them. I assure you, they have already been paid in full.” Matthew 6:2. The next time you are tempted to hurry to social media to narrate how you gave a homeless, old woman a home or how you bought bread and gala for a hungry child you found crying on the street, remember what Christ said about giving. You don’t want to miss your everlasting heavenly rewards hustling for transient earthly rewards.
Do you possess your possessions or do your possessions possess you? Are you able to use what you have to be a blessing? God is a giver, and if we want to enjoy life and fulfill our purpose, then we must become givers also. Getters don’t get happiness. Givers get it. So, put on your cloak of gratitude, helmet of love and go out and give generously. “When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die.” Eleanor Roosevelt.