Is giving an obligation or an opportunity? When we are presented with the needs of others do we consider what we can give without being affected or do we trust God enough to be willing to give even if it creates a new need in our own lives? Yesterday I had an opportunity to present a need to our church. I was contacted during the week by a Bible college classmate that is now a missionary in Asia. She contacted me to share that she and her husband are trying to adopt a child native to the country in which they are serving. She shared all the steps that the nation requires of them before they can even begin the actual adoption process and how they have been working to meet each requirement. They have now come to a place in which they can begin the process to adopt the little girl that they have cared for as their own child for the last year and just found out that they would need a sum of money within the next few weeks that is large to many of us.
We took a special offering at the service and I was quite thankful for the amount that was given and was actually very proud to be able to report to my friend the amount that we would be sending. About an hour after church there was a knock on my door, one of the people from church was dropping off a check for the adoption offering, about two hours later another knock and another check, then this morning I had to stop at the home of another church family only to find two more gifts for the offering. By the time I sent the check this morning our little group of people (there were 33 people at church yesterday) had given $1400 to this need. I could not have been more thankful and honestly, as a pastor, more proud.
Isaiah 58:9-10 says, “Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and the Lord will answer: Here am I. If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” We were created to be spent, not to be filled up as storage containers. I believe that many of us have been contaminated by the spirit of poverty. We may have enough money, enough food, enough things and yet we are lacking in our spirits, we are lacking in our contentment, in our usefulness and in our willingness. The only thing that destroys poverty is generosity, not merely of those who have plenty that can give to the needs of others, but generosity of those that have needs that are willing to give from their lack. I believe this to be true, poverty is not about not having enough nearly as much as it is about not being willing to give from what we do have. Obedient, generous giving does not only bless the one that receives the gift but it blesses those who give, those who hear about the gift and those who then are led to “pay it forward.” In Scripture we see a young boy, as hungry as the rest of the 5,000 people in the crowd being willing to give his lunch, all he had, even though it didn’t seem enough to matter, so that God might be able to do something great with his lunch, with his life. We see the widow, instructed to use what little she had and first feed Elijah and then she would have her needs met. Every day for a year she had to choose to use her little for someone else and every day that she obeyed there was enough for her to feed herself and her son. Another widow was down to a little bit of oil, she was about to lose her sons to debt collectors when she was told to begin pouring the little bit she had into jars. She was told to borrow jars and containers from the neighbors. Imagine the foolishness of this act, her one container was not even full, what did she need with more empty ones, were they to show her how little she had, or to give her an opportunity to pour out her little and watch it become great?
We are not entrusted with more when we hold tightly to what we have, we are entrusted with more when we are willing to give what we currently have according to the leading of the Holy Spirit. I want to encourage and challenge all of us today to stop looking at our inventory and start looking at God’s; to give not only cheerfully but willingly; to not give from our plenty but to even give from our lack; “to spend ourselves” not because God says we have to but because God has trusted us to want to. Giving is always an opportunity, it is an opportunity to bless someone else, an opportunity to share the goodness of God, an opportunity to trust God more than ever before, an opportunity to see God do something we have never seen Him do and an opportunity to sew seed that will produce a harvest. We destroy the spirit of poverty in the Body of Christ when we give generously, when we trust completely and when we count nothing as our own but everything as God’s. He is our provider; give as He leads and receive as He gives