“Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
- Acts 20:32-35
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”
- Luke 18:29-30
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
- Romans 8:32
Alex Seeley relates a testimony by a friend of hers, named Mia:
“We didn’t have a lot when I was growing up. In fact, most of my friends still don’t know that when I was young, I lived in my mum’s car for six months. Then we lived in a women’s shelter. We often lived on food stamps and got Christmas gifts that were donated by the Salvation Army. It was actually how I came to know Jesus, but that’s a story for another day.
“I used to think that it would have been easier for me to have a better understanding of generosity and giving if I’d grown up in a different environment or financial situation. I didn’t have a dad, and we were always living in such extreme lack. My normal was secondhand, second-rate everything. I often believed that if my experience were different, my outlook would be different.
“I think there is a cycle of fear when it comes to finances. When you have nothing, it’s easy to believe that things will always be this way; when you have a little, it’s easy to be so afraid of never having more that you hold on too tightly to the little that you have. I can relate to both postures.
“It’s been a long road of obediently saying yes after costly yes for me to change that posture of fear, which is centered around always being in lack, to the posture of knowing God is my provider and therefore I need not fear in this area. My expectations did not change because my circumstances changed. Quite the opposite, in fact. l have had to change my expectations in order to see my circumstances change, and over and over, that is exactly what happened.
“It wasn’t one big moment or one big sacrifice that shifted things, but instead, a lot of little moments stretched me outside of my comfort zone. Every time l was presented with an opportunity to be generous, l had a choice to be stingy and fearful or generous and full of faith. I was given many opportunities to participate in hidden acts of generosity. It wasn’t a class l finally graduated from, but instead, l experienced layers of the same thing that revealed more of who God really is and how His kingdom operates. …
“Ask the Lord what it is you need to do today in the area of generosity. Perhaps it’s related to giving to your church or altering the amount you tithe. Maybe see if there is someone He wants you to be generous to. Make a note and watch God reward your generosity.”
- Alex Seeley, The Opposite Life
Within a couple of weeks of being overcharged by a dentist, my wife was having a test done and my phone rang. It was my niece who has borrowed from us 3-5 times before. I have lost count. The last time, she had repaid nothing. The time before that she quit paying after the first payment.
Why? Two times ago and this last time, she was ripped off by people who took advantage of her. On her last dollar, literally, she has been homeless. All other family refuse to even answer the phone when she calls. Am I a soft touch, or do I see a child of God who needs a helping hand? This last time, it was just to pay for a cheap hotel while she looked for accommodation because the women’s rescue center had a limit on the length of stay and she had exceeded that.
Of all the giving and receiving, could charitable organizations match your maximum length of stay with the minimum wait list time for a new apartment? I am just throwing that out there. When you are an organization that gets public praise for rescuing women in distress, but you force them into an awkward situation that could easily cause them to get back into an abusive relationship, have you really helped them? Oh, kicking them out is never on the news. I see how it works.
But between the latest donation to the endless money pit and the dental bills, I have had to start collecting from a retirement account, too little each month to worry about taxes.
And yet, from Mia’s testimony, copied to Alex Seeley’s book, we see that giving is not a matter of the money. It is not about whether we have or we do not have. Mia explains that when you do not have or have very little, there is a fear factor.
Thus, the point of giving vs. receiving is a factor in a different opposite life discussion: Fear vs. Faith. Mia probably never had a lot to give, but those that have tons that could be given are still living in fear in case the stock market crashes or something unexpected happens or, as Jesus mentioned a few times, someone robs you blind. Like doing half of a teeth cleaning and charging nearly $900. Yes, they never finished the job. My parents lived in fear that they had not saved enough in case one of them was forced into a long hospital stay. As it turned out, that never happened.
We need to look to God’s provision, which is a pretty scary thing when we like to plan months and months ahead. I love certainty. I get a bad case of GERD when the last piece of the puzzle in some project is delivered the day that the deadline is due. Many times, that is the way God operates, especially because I am like that.
It is as if God is saying, “Hey, Hatrack, you will get that last piece for your project two-hours before the deadline because I am almighty God and I know that what you have to do with that last piece is going to take you one hour and forty-five minutes before the project is complete. Thus, it is not delivered late. You can sit on your backside for fifteen minutes and bask in the glow of a finished project.”
Do I ever ask if God would fail me? No, but my GERD fails me. My nerves fail me. And when that last piece arrives, I sometimes am so shaken that it takes one hour and fifty-five minutes. My lack of faith cost me ten minutes of “satisfaction time.”
Have you driven past someone in need lately? The other part of that test of faith is a test of the love we have for those who are less fortunate.
Have we drifted from the subject of generosity?
Ask yourself that the next time you write out a check to give to someone in need and you know that there is no source of income that will ever restore what you are giving. At least, no source of income that you know of …
Lord, guide me. I know that I have not given enough in the past, but I know at times that I have given more than most people in my situation. Most people in my situation would have their hand out asking to receive instead of giving. But Lord, we can all find ways, some of them not monetary, where we can give, beyond the point where it hurts. The pain will go away in time, and when we are with you in Heaven, we will have no pain. Thank You Lord, for Your provision. It meets our needs, and it is timely. In Thy Name I pray. Amen
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.