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Sunday, December 23, 2012

He Who Gives - Let Him Give Freely

“he who gives, let him give freely”
Romans 12:8b (Bible in Basic English)
Without a doubt, Christmas is a time of giving. Sometimes we give to our children and grandchildren to a fault. But basically, giving is good. Giving gifts to others tells them that we love and appreciate them. It is a joy to give someone something unexpected. It is a greater joy to know that they really love what you have given them.
Aside from giving to our family, friends, neighbors, people who serve us, and the individual whose name we have drawn out of the hat at work, we often give to people in need during the Christmas season. The Bible is full of stories about people giving large amounts of food and treasures to those whose favor they hoped to gain. The Bible encourages us to give to those in need. We are not to give for personal gain.
Giving to the needy at Christmas is widely encouraged in our culture. In our attempt to give to those in need we write checks, gather groceries, purchase and wrap gifts for children we don’t know, fill shoe boxes to be sent to children in foreign countries, serve meals in shelters, hand out toiletries to the homeless, visit nursing homes and leave small gifts for the residents, and the list goes on and on. All of these avenues of giving are to be commended. Many lives are blessed because people give generously.
But my question today is have you ever been in need? Have you been on the receiving end of giving? How did that make you feel? There are many emotions that can surface when we are on the receiving end in a time of need. It is easy to enjoy a gift when we don’t need anything. But then again, when we are in need we sometimes feel inadequate, embarrassed, or our pride kicks in and we want to refuse the gift that is being offered.
I experienced this on Christmas many years ago. Our children were small and my husband and I were struggling financially. After all the gifts had been unwrapped one of our family members handed us a check of a sizable amount. My first response was to refuse the gift. I think perhaps I experienced many negative emotions but for me pride was at the top!
We graciously accepted the check but I purposed in my heart to never cash it. God began to speak to my heart regarding this issue. I stumbled upon a scripture, in of all places, a Christmas cookbook. The verse said, “he who gives, let him give freely” Wow! I knew this scripture was from God because I was not seeking confirmation, not to mention that God seemed to be speaking to me from a cookbook! This verse hit me so strongly that it sounded more like a command than a statement.
After thinking about the scripture verse for awhile, I began to realize that perhaps the giver was being obedient to God. Who was I to refuse something that God had orchestrated? Furthermore, I remembered that when I have been the giver, God always blessed me. Who was I to rob this giver of a blessing? If God wanted to provide for us, who was I to say thanks, but no thanks? Why was I so determined to decline this gift? Then as out of nowhere the Holy Spirit spoke words of conviction to my heart. “Pride is a sin.” Needless to say, I confessed my pride, thanked God for his provision, cashed the check, and expressed heartfelt thanks to the giver. Appreciation and gratitude replaced my pride.
Giving is a two way street. The Bible teaches that “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35 NIV However, that Christmas I also learned that from my point of view it was definitely more blessed to receive than to give.
  1. Do you enjoy giving?
  2. When was the last time you gave to someone in need?
  3. Have you ever given to a family member in need?
  4. Have you ever been in need?
  5. How did you feel as a recipient of a gift that was given to help you?
  6. Have you ever been too proud to accept the gift?
  7. Did God change your thinking regarding the giver of the gift?

Dear Jesus,

I confess that I do not give enough. Please forgive me for my selfishness. I pray Lord that I would become a giver because giving pleases you. Help me also to look for needs and rise to the occasion of meeting the needs that you put on my heart. Father, I thank you that have you blessed me in the past by others giving to me in my time of need. Father when it is my time to give, may I give unreservedly. When it is my time to receive I pray that I would set aside pride and allow the giver that you have sent to give freely. Jesus I am reminded that you have given the greatest gift of all, your life, to redeem and rescue me from the bondage of sin. I thank you Jesus that I am a recipient of your gift. This Christmas and every day I want to give of my time and my resources for your glory.
In your name I pray. Amen.