December 14, 2010
The Joy of Giving
2 Corinthians 9:7 (NCV) "Each one should give as you have decided in your heart to give. You should not be sad when you give, and you should not give because you feel forced to give. God loves the person who gives happily.'
Friend to Friend
We make a living by what we get out of life, but we make a life by what we give and how we give it. I am convinced that God loves to see us give for no other reason than the joy of giving.
The true story is told of a self-made millionaire who had lived in New York City his entire life. Born and raised in a ghetto, he worked hard and achieved much. Anyone who knew this man would testify to the fact that he was generous - to a fault, some would say. One year, the man was disturbed by an attitude of selfishness and greed that seemed to pervade the Christmas holiday season and everyone around him. Not one to condemn, the millionaire decided that since he had been given so much, it was up to him to do his part in combating greed and came up with an unusual plan. Wearing a disguise, this man stuffed his pockets with $100 dollar bills and set out for a walk on the streets of New York City. When he saw someone in need, he whipped out one of the bills, pressed it into that person's hands and with a "Merry Christmas" and made his way down the street. "It was the most wonderful part of my holiday season," the man reported, and he has been doing it every since.
When our children were in middle school, we owned what I affectionately called a "Mini-Gym." It was a set of bar bells, a weight lifting bench and a few free weights. Both Jered and Danna loved their "gym" and used it almost every day. When Christmas rolled around, we learned that two of their good friends, Jeff and Jeremy, were not going to have much of a Christmas because their dad had lost his job. Jered came up with a plan. "Mom," he said, "Danna and I have talked about it. We think that Jeff and Jeremy would love to have a gym like ours, but we don't want them to know we gave it to them because they might be embarrassed. What do you think?" I thought I was in the presence of two joyful givers and quickly joined them in their plan.
A few days before Christmas, Jered and I took the gym apart and loaded it in our car while Danna found a huge red bow and made a sign that read, "Merry Christmas!" Danna then blew up balloons while Jered dug out some Christmas lights. We enlisted the help of a neighbor who had a key to our friend's house. Her job was to let us know when our friends left and then unlock the back door so we could complete our mission. We parked down the street until the neighbor called, giggling, to let us know the coast was clear.
Once we were inside, we raced to assemble the gym, tie the balloons and tape the lights to the front door. We then high-tailed it home as if the FBI was hot on our trail! The neighbor reported that just minutes after the boys and their mom returned she heard shouting and "whooping and hollering." The joy of that Christmas still lingers today.
Greed doesn't hold a candle to joyful giving. Greed is never satisfied and never at rest. There is always something more to be gained and someone else to outdo. I'm afraid our motives are all too often self-serving when it comes to giving. Our pride is at stake, so we give to impress others. Perhaps we give out of fear and guilt, hoping to buy God's forgiveness from our sin. People are watching, so we give in order to gain their approval.
God is much more interested in our motive for giving than in the gift itself. If that motive is tainted with greed of any kind, the gift simply does not count. This year, before you give, ask yourself, "What's in it for me?" If the answer is "nothing," then go ahead and give the gift. Be a joyful giver.
Father, You have given me so much. Thank You for the blessings in my life. Thank You for meeting my every need. Now help me to give with a joyful heart. I want You to be pleased and honored by the gifts I give this Christmas.
In Jesus' name,
Now it's Your Turn
Read Proverbs 11:24-25 "Some people give much but get back even more. Others don't give what they should and end up poor. Whoever gives to others will get richer; those who help others will themselves be helped."
What truths about giving do you see in these verses?
How can you apply those truths to the gifts you give this Christmas?
Have you considered the fact that your gift may very well be the answer to someone's prayer?
More from the Girlfriends
I simply cannot "out-give" God. It seems that the more I give, the more I receive. How about you? I would love to hear your story! Send me an e-mail and let's encourage each other to be joyful givers.
Don't let stress steal your joy this Christmas! Mary's book, Escaping the Stress Trap, is based on Psalm 23 and will help you manage holiday stress. It is the perfect Christmas gift from you - to you!
Check out these two new resources now available in Mary's online store:
NEW E-Bible Study: Take This Job and Love It!
NEW CD: Divine Surprises
Join women from across the world in Mary's Online Bible Study, Light for the Journey. Don't miss her new study beginning today, The Secret of a Merry Christmas. If you enroll now, you will also have access to all of the 2010 studies. But hurry! This offer ends December 15.
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