Dear Readers, Beloved of God,
You were most likely drawn to this article because of the title, right? And, I imagine you are thinking that I am just trying to be funny? Well, a little, but there is also a seriousness about the title as well! You will soon see that a valuable spiritual principal is also implied!
Let’s see if any of these real life scenarios apply to any of us. Have you ever been sitting in church, and the Pastor or other minister pounds heartily on the tithe and offering drum? Ever gone into a grocery or department store and someone is either at the entrance or somewhere in the parking lot soliciting “help”? What about being approached while you pump gas into the family vehicle? Another seemingly popular approach is someone standing at the exit ramp as you exit the interstate holding some sort of sign where the writing usually ends with “God bless”. Have you ever experienced that one?
What I describe above is common in the United States, among other practices to obtain a helping hand. I’m not exactly sure how this is approached in other countries, some are the same, and others similar, but I’m sure that there is no shortage of needy people. Please stay with me here, I promise this is not a badmouthing session against needy people or con artists, although they are out there. No, I have a valuable lesson to teach and some of us may even be set free from the old bags of bondage we have been carrying around!
I’m sure that each of us has experienced at least one of these scenarios in our lifetime. Now, with the above scenarios in mind, consider this: you have been confronted or asked to give whether it is in church or elsewhere and you do not have one cent in your pocket! In fact, we may even find that in actuality, our financial circumstances aren’t the greatest either, and we may be the one that is needy. What do we do? Where do we turn? And what about the need that is before us? The choices are several, but for many Christians, the choice seems to be made for us, condemnation and guilt settles in! We really want to help, but the fact is we are broke and can’t help financially.
Why do these guilty feelings rush us like a tidal wave? Do we really have anything to feel guilty or condemned about? Feelings of compassion and concern are normal, but not condemnation and guilt. Some of the reason we feel guilty, is because we have been conditioned to think that the only thing worth giving is money, and sadly we have somewhat been taught this in our churches! Have you ever heard this old secular saying, “money makes the world go around”? Well, money may make the world go around, but it should not make the church go around! There are many treasures in this life greater than money, and some things are simply priceless! What should make the church “go around”, post salvation, is our good works! God the Father has given Christians the ability to give the greatest gift second to the sacrifice of His Son Jesus, the gift of ourselves! Jesus is the only definitive example, of what it means to sacrifice out of love for humanity. Should we offer Him any less as His hands and feet?
In His life giving ministry, did Jesus walk around handing out cash as a show of His love, hopes, and healing for humanity? Not at all, He invested Himself in the lives of others.
I am the father of three children, and like any other parent who loves their children, wants to offer them the stars. Soon after I was born again, the Lord brought to my attention a Bible verse: “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
Already being a father, this verse really struck a nerve in me. I contemplated the verse a little and immediately asked myself a question. What is the greatest gift that I can give my children? One, which will all throughout life, bring them life, peace, joy, opportunities, love, and remain a constant help in times of trouble, and an ever present guide concerning the fragile and difficult walk of life. Right then, I determined that the greatest gift I could ever offer my children was an introduction to the Creator, Sustainer, Savior and Comforter of their life, Jesus Christ! I went home and shared this with my wife and children. We joined hands and the four of them received Jesus in their hearts that moment! At their request, I then baptized them in the bathtub! God has very much honored that day in our lives. Other than the typical growing pains of rearing children, I have not had one moment of trouble from them. God gifted me with them and I presented the gift back to God.
This is a lesson about giving and no one is gift less, ever! We all have Godly gifts to offer humanity and just need to look deep in our hearts and see what we possess. Money is not always the thing that is needed most. Sure, it is most often the desire of the heart to those of us who are needy, but remember, “Give a man a fish and eats for a day. Teach him how to fish and he eats for a lifetime”. Sometimes what we think we need is not what we need at all!
We all have something to offer; from a kind word to a friendly smile; an encouraging hug or comforting embrace. We can offer a helping hand, or a leg up; a drink of water, or maybe a full meal; a prayer for healing, or a word of praise. We all have something to offer! There is no need to feel guilty about our giving or that we lack a certain gift. These things are priceless! Money can’t and never will outshine the love of Christ!
What did Jesus have to say concerning our giving? “…for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.”
“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘ Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You? And the King will answer and say to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” (Matthew 25:35-40)
Every one of the above acts of kindness can be done without having one dime in our pocket! It only requires that we purpose those things in our heart. God has given us all something to give. I’ll let you in a little spiritual nugget; when we give of ourselves, the one receiving the gift is not the only one to benefit. God instantly warms the heart of the giver with His approval, and that too is priceless! Please don’t misunderstand my message here. I’m not suggesting that money is never an appropriate gift, only that it is not the greatest gift, and is often, something we lack and can’t give this way. In all of our giving we should follow the leading of the Lord. He knows what the best gifts and greatest needs are concerning all of us! Being that He uses His people to bless others, it stands to reason that we follow His lead, agree?
“Two broke preachers and a crippled man”: I’m going to share a story with you to reinforce our lesson. A man who had been born lame was carried to the gate of certain church every day. His reason for going there was to seek monetary charity from those that passed by or were going inside the church to worship. I don’t think the man ever really made eye contact with those that passed by and he had been doing this same routine for some time. I can only imagine how many people walked by this man each day. He just sat there hoping someone would give.
One particular day two preachers approached the gate so they could enter the church. Strangely, the crippled man spoke to them and asked for alms, but did not look up at them. He definitely had the attention of the preachers as they intently starred at him. One of the preachers spoke and told the man to look at them. The man looked up at them expecting to receive some money. One of the preachers, realizing what the man wanted, and probably considering what the man really needed, spoke to him, “I do not have any money to give, but what I do have I give you; In the name of Jesus Christ rise up and walk!”
The preacher then extended the right hand to the man and helped him get up. Immediately, the man’s feet and ankle bones received strength. Leaping up, the man stood and walked and went inside the church with the two preachers! The formally crippled man praised God, as he had received exactly what he needed, which could not compare with what he thought he wanted! Everyone around that had witnessed this event or that knew that this man had sat at this gate daily, were amazed. They knew him to be a cripple and now he is not!
Wouldn’t it be wonderful is this story were true, as it could all the more prove that we all have something to give, and it doesn’t always have to be money? This story is true! You can read of this history making event in the Book of Acts, chapter 3. The two broke preachers are Peter and John, and not having money, they gave what they had. Praise God! We all have something to give! We all matter in the body of Christ and can make a difference in the lives of others. Lord Jesus, help us all look deep within our hearts and recognize those gifts we have to give. Help us reach out and give to humanity the gift of life in You. Some of our gifts are to plant and others to water, but we all reap a harvest when we invest in the lives of humankind! Jesus said that the greatest gift of all is love. If we ask Him, he will help us give some love every day!
Lord Jesus, I pray, asking that You fill Your people to overflowing with the gifts of heaven. Put those people in our paths daily that need Your help and reveal to us their needs. Saturate us in the same love You have for humanity. We are Your hands and feet, and ask that You walk and touch through us. Forgive us for our sins and release us from the bondage of thinking we have nothing to give. Remind us fresh that in You we have everything. We love you Jesus and it is with thankful hearts we pray, ~Amen