I just learned that a woman I work with wrote a book titled Be a Cheerful Giver. I went to the website and was able to get a peek into the book. From what I gather, it’s a book about the amazing gifts God has given people through their giving to others. And, while I plan to go out and buy the book today, I wanted to give some thought first to my views on giving – and how those thoughts have changed over the years.
Before I move on, I would ask anyone who reads this to click over to www.beacheerfulgivercd.com.
So, what were my thoughts on giving? Sadly, for many years, my thoughts were that I deserved everything that I had because I made it and it was up to me where I spent it and who I shared it with. I was very entitled. Why should I give away what I’ve earned?
During that time, I was also living WAY above my means. I had a good job and was making good money, but I was living like I was making nearly double. I was in credit card debt – not because of cheerful giving, more because of greedy taking.
And, when we got married, we were both a bit of financial messes. And, since most of friends were too, we didn’t seem to give it much thought.
Then one day it hit me – this was probably another “God Knocking” moment. Why do I work so hard, take very little home, share almost nothing with anyone else, because I am paying it all to the credit card people??? Oh Yeah – it’s because I spent all of this before I made it. It was like I ran into a brick wall and woke up. This is not the way I wanted to live – and not the way I wanted our kids to be raised.
So, where are my thoughts now? I’m not sure when they changed, but I do know that they did. About 3 years ago, my husband and I sat down and decided that we wanted to live mostly debt free. And, I say mostly because we weren’t going to be able to pay off the house any time soon. But we wanted all other debts gone. So, little by little, we paid everything off. It was difficult during those three years, especially because we went from 1 child to 3 children in the same time. That meant more diapers, more formula, more doctors appointments, etc. But, we did it. That allowed us to look at all that God had given us, and really start to think about generous giving.
Here is what the Bible says about giving:
Acts 20:35 (GNB): I have shown you in all things that by working hard in this way we must help the weak, remembering the words that the Lord Jesus himself said, “There is more happiness in giving than in receiving.”
2 Corinthians 9:7-9 (GNB): You should each give, then, as you have decided, not with regret or out of a sense of duty; for God loves the one who gives gladly. And God is able to give you more than you need, so that you will always have all you need for yourselves and more than enough for every good cause. As the scripture says: “He gives generously to the needy; his kindness lasts for ever.”
What does that look like for us? Well, I believe we are called to give generously. And, giving is not just the dollars you hand over. Again, we don’t all have the extra dollars to spend. But, we might have an extra hour a month, or extra clothes that we aren’t wearing, or a piece of furniture that we plan to replace.
When we first started this journey, we didn’t have much extra money. So, we started with a few small donations to good causes and our church. Then, we started looking at the items in our home that could be used by others. We started giving these items away (clothes, furniture, bedding, etc.). And, that was all we could do for a while, especially with these little ones needing so much. But then, we realized things were getting a little easier, so we started to give a little more, and added our time to the mix.
About 2 years ago, I realized that giving isn’t just about the money or goods you have. It is also about giving your time and your talents to help others. So, I started volunteering. And, once you start, it can become a 2nd full-time job, so I needed to be thoughtful about it. I wanted to choose places where I was able to have the best impact, understanding that the time volunteering was also time away from our children (and remember, I only get them 30-40% of the time).
For us, our solution was to choose a few places where we would share our time, talent & treasure, so that it had the biggest impact. Instead of spreading a little everywhere, we wanted to give generously in a few places. We chose:
- Our Schools
- Our Church
- Women’s Groups
- Helping Children
While there are various views on giving, this focus helped us to feel like our time, our talents and our treasure were all multiplied in our giving in these areas. God has blessed us, and I believe He has called us to bless others. Not because we have to, rather because we want to, and we feel it is the right thing to do. Why should we keep it all to ourselves? We got it through the gifts that God has given us. By His mercy, His strength, His grace, we have each been saved. Why then, should we be so focused on what we can keep instead of looking at what we can share.
One last point – it is so important to give for giving sake, and not look at it for what we get in return. While there are so many amazing benefits of giving, the purpose of giving is to bless others. I say this because I had a recent experience where I asked others to support me in something. When they didn’t, I was very disappointed – and this is where the devil loves to play. My mind was filled with thoughts of –
“Well, I guess I won’t go and support them, either!”
While, sadly, that is where my mind went first, the amazing thing about God is that He is always there and He helps us to see the error in our thinking. And, He quickly pulled me out of that hole and said,
“Daughter, I have called you to give generously – not for what you will receive, only for the gift of giving to others.”
See, being a Christian and walking in faith doesn’t mean that we don’t have evil, nasty, terrible thoughts. Although, I hope one day those go away, too! But for now, what I am learning is how, with God’s help, to quickly get over those thoughts and onto the more beautiful ones.
God has given us so many blessings! Where can I go and show His Love by blessing others??