As I have been praying about and doing the challenge I have begun to see how much I already give.
That may sound like a very proud, arrogant statement, and maybe it is, but it’s true. I give quite a lot. However, my giving is a very shallow, easy kind of giving and is not very sacrificial.
I want to be careful here, it can be very easy to keep saying “I’m not giving enough” or even “You’re not giving enough” and it can be very easy to belittle the good that we do because we get ourselves into some kind of competition to give more sacrificially. Please be assured that doing that is not my intent.
What I have recognized though is that there are different kinds of giving and different ways to give and sometimes we can get caught up in a bubble and almost become pharisees. Let me explain:
- There are only 2 or 3 meals in a week when I am cooking for just my immediate family. We have a guy who stays with us during the week and I make or at least supply lunch and dinner to him almost every day of the work week. We also have relatives living in an apartment in our back yard and we share our lunch and dinner with them most days. I have no problem doing this. I’ll feed anyone who comes around at meal times. It is a valid and good form of giving. We give food and we give our time in preparing the food.
- I do some things for a local addiction recovery organization, I attend board meetings once a month and get involved where needed.
- I pastor a church which meets in my home and we make our home available for whatever it is needed for.
These are all good ways to give and normally I wouldn’t mention them, it is just for the purposes of this post that I am admitting to them.
What I have seen though is how insular these forms of giving are. I have this bubble around me and I give freely within the bubble but it is very hard to tempt me outside of my bubble. Come to my house and I’ll give in any way I can. Arrange a board meeting in advance or arrange a time in the future for me to help out at an event and I’m there.
The problem is that there is nothing particularly difficult or challenging to my giving because I am only giving inside this bubble that I call my normal life.
What this Challenge is showing me is that, yes, I am a fairly giving person but that I only give when it’s easy.
We went to a residential home yesterday to give out candy canes and Christmas cards to the elderly people there. That was WAY outside of my comfort zone – way outside of my bubble. I found it very uncomfortable, very difficult and yet the people we met were really nice, really appreciative and really happy that we took the time visit them.
We went to the Salvation Army to see how we can volunteer and we met the Major’s wife, who really lives a life of constant giving in a way which is totally outside of my bubble. She does whatever is needed. She almost lives at the church and is involved in so many forms of giving I can’t even begin to grasp it. She is a real unsung hero (as are her husband and many others there), her lifestyle really encapsulates the Gospel. Jesus said “Freely you have received, freely give” and that’s exactly what she does.
The big difference between me and her is: I give freely if you come into my bubble, she goes into your bubble to find ways to give.
I guess what I’m learning is the reason why God called me to do this Challenge. He told our church that we had been apathetic and and not been His hands and feet and I guess I’m learning what He means.
Giving within your comfort zone and being happy to do so is great. However, if we are truly to follow Christ’s example, if we are truly to be His hands and feet in this world, if we are to truly show God’s love and shine His light in every street, we have to do more than just help those who come to us, we need to get out there and carry His light into the dark places, the places we wouldn’t normally go.
I hadn’t realized until now how much the great commission is about giving:
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV) (emphasis mine)
Are you willing to die to yourself, to give yourself and GO?