20 January 2014

Freely you have received; freely give.

I’ve been thinking, learning, pondering, musing, mulling, considering and being challenged on the topic of giving lately.

I’ve always been a saver. I make money and never spend it all. (I was close to empty at the end of one semester; it’s only happened once, and like 30 bucks still remained.. I’ve literally never been without, and I’ve never been in debt.) I’m not necessarily cheap, and no, my parents aren’t loaded (although they do let me live in their house, and they are very generous!), but the simple truth is that I live in the middle of the prairie, and I hate going to Walmart, so my options for unloading cash are very few and far between! (Hash tag, plane tickets)

So I’ve been home, working part time for 3 and a half of the past four years (through specific circumstances I was able/told to quit work for a while in July, and I haven’t been back again yet. The job is still available, but I’m not called there at this point). I had twice as much saved last year as I have now, but I’ve still got more than plenty. Last year I paid doctors more than I actually made. Oh well; get over it, a-team!

The Lord’s been teaching me to just let go. Pay the bills. Don’t fret. You actually have enough for them, and it hasn’t entirely depleted your savings. I’ve been so richly provided for, even by just faithfully going to work 3 or 4 days a week for nearly four years.

So that was a big step- just being willing to let go and not hold my “security” tightly. It’s His money, and He’s capable of providing SO MUCH MORE than I could ever possibly need, ask, or want.

This applies also to personal, physical resources. I quite literally exhausted all that was within me last year, and was forced to take a 6-month break from life because of it. I had to learn to say no, to leave margin in my life, to create balance, to not be an incessant giver and doer for everyone. “Only that which is necessary.” That’s a hard lesson to learn, and they’re tough habits to break, but absolutely essential if we’re going to serve the Lord and His people in His way. Not in our own strength, not our will, not our way; just, all, only His.

About a week ago, I was reminded of a hymn that I knew but had forgotten, called He Giveth More Grace. Check out the second verse, which stabbed me right to the heart [yep, still camping out on this hymn]:

"When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.”

Youch. The end of our hoarded resources. I have resources but I don’t ever want to run out, because who knows what will happen once they do, and He’s telling me the only way to get His full giving is to run completely empty of whatever I’ve got left to offer. Oh friends, this applies to so many areas in life!!

So I’m currently on the potter’s wheel, being reshaped, having my understanding renewed and transformed these days. Being generous is one of the huge lessons being learned. “Meet urgent needs.” Not hastily or rashly or in my own strength; but as the Spirit puts needs on my heart, I’ve got to choose to obey Him and act on it. Check out these verses from the Amplified Bible that I read this morning:

Do not forget or neglect to do kindness and good, to be generous and distribute and contribute to the needy [of the church as embodiment and proof of fellowship], for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. (Hebrews 13:16)

Proof of fellowship! Even just being a contributor, not an all-star pioneer! Pleasing to God! Don’t forget or neglect this! DO kindness and good! This is important.

Therefore, MY brethren, whom I love and yearn to see, MY delight and crown (wreath of victory), thus stand firm in the Lord, MY beloved. And I exhort you too, [MY] genuine yokefellow, help these, for they have toiled along WITH ME in [the spreading of] the good news (the Gospel), as have Clement and the rest of MY FELLOW WORKERS whose names are in the Book of Life. (Philippians 4:1, 3)

Can we just stop a minute and marvel at how unnecessary it was for Paul the Awesome (my personal opinion of him) to recognize other people as being his fellow workers? He clearly out-worked everyone he ever met! “Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” (see 1 Corinthians 15:10) And here he is, calling them his fellow workers, his crown of victory, his genuine yoke-fellows. Amazing. Let it be not overlooked, however, that his “fellow workers” are the ones “whose names are written in the Book of Life.” Folks, we are saved to serve, not by our own strength, righteousness, wisdom, glory, or awesomeness, but by the grace of God which mightily works within us. If your name is in the Book of Life, if you are saved, are you doing anything about it to show yourself an approved workman and a genuine yoke-fellow of those who are already serving the Lord? Remember, even “she who stays at home” or “he who keeps the baggage” shall “share the spoils.” (Read the OT.. It’s in there. Living pictures of God’s truth!)

Get involved, somehow. Pray for people, pray for missionaries, support missionaries, pray for your pastor, ask how you can be a blessing, look around for obvious needs and ask the Lord to enable you to fill them in such a way that will please Him and bless His people. (People in ministry will quote the above verses about you, like Paul said about his supporters!) And don’t fret. God will show you how! Ask Him!

Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit). The Lord is near [He is coming soon]. I HAVE strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I AM ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I AM self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency]. (Philippians 4:5, 13)

There’s a couple more verses in case you’re still feeling clueless. You shouldn’t be feeling so anymore with a promise like that to believe!

So yeah. That’s one way the Lord is teaching me and changing me these days. I’m blessed to just do it because I know it is His will for my life! But He is so sweet and kind and good; He’s been dropping sweet blessings, amazing opportunities, and practical material necessities into my lap this week too. I’m up to my eyeballs in goodness here. And somehow, I knew that He would. His blessings weren't my motivation, but He’s pretty consistently the best gift-giver ever, so I knew He would “not leave me without support” (Hebrews 13:5-6 amplified, check it out!!).

In closing, the moral of the story is: trust God, seek to please God, and enjoy the life He has laid out for you when you do. You can never outgive Him, out-take His resources, outdo Him, outgrace Him, outlove Him. Just go ahead and try.

"He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again."

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