LiViNG: The Joy of Giving (Matthew 6: 1-4)

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One of the greatest challenges in our life is the temptation to live selfishly Even though we believe that God wants the best for us, wants us to prosper, that we have the favour of God, and that He has much more in store it is easy to slip into the subtle trap of selfishness.

Our society always teaches us to look out for number one. What is in it for me? I will help you, but what will I get in return? We readily acknowledge this is the “me” generation. Many people nowadays are blatantly and unashamedly living for themselves. They are not interested in other people. They do not have time to help other people in need. They focus only on what they want, what they need, what they feel will most benefit themselves. We have too many such people in our community. Their sole desire is to grab as much wealth as possible and then deposit it in foreign countries. Such selfish attitude leads to living shallow, unrewarding lives. No matter how much they acquire for themselves, they are never satisfied.

If we want to experience a new level of God’s joy, if we want Him to pour out His blessings and favour in our life, then we are going to have to get our mind off ourselves. We must learn to be a giver and not a receiver. We need to quit thinking what people can do for us, but start thinking what we can do for somebody else. We are not made to function as self-involved people, thinking only for ourselves. No! God created us to be givers. We will never be truly fulfilled as a human being until we learn the simple secret of how to give our life away.

We must learn to be a giver and not a receiver.

Nine times out of ten we are thinking about our problems. We are thinking about some concern or frustration in our life. We are thinking about what we must do tomorrow. When we get caught up in all of these worries, it is a formula for depression and discouragement. We must learn to get our focus off ourselves. The late singer Keith Green said it well: “It is so hard to see when my eyes are on me.”

We are created to give!

It is extremely selfish to go around dwelling on our problems and our needs. One of the best things we can do if we are having a problem is to help solving somebody else’s problem. If we want our dreams to bring to pass, help someone else to fulfil his or her dreams. Start sowing some seeds so that God can bring us a harvest. When we meet other people’s needs, God always meets our needs.

There was a man who was extremely disgruntled with life, disappointed with God and himself. He had been highly successful at one time, but through a series of poor choices, he lost his business, his family, his home and his entire life savings. Now, he was basically living out of his car.

He was deeply depressed. A pastor attempted to help him. After praying with him, the pastor gave him some practical advice. “Listen, Sir, you have gotten to get your mind off your problems.” The pastor said further: “Get your mind off the mistakes you have made and all the things you have lost. If you really want to be happy, if you want really to be restored, you have gotten to change your focus and go out and help someone in need. You have gotten to sow some seeds. No matter how big your problems are, somebody out there may have a bigger problem, a tougher situation, a more heart-rending story than yours.

You can help make a difference in somebody’s life. You can help ease somebody’s burden by lending an ear to him or her. You can cheer somebody up, and give somebody a fresh new hope.”

The man promised he would take the pastor’s advice. He connected with some men who help people overcome addictions. Instead of moping in his car, thinking about what his future may bring, he began spending his time helping and caring for some drug addicts. He became a friend to many of the addicts, listening to their struggles, encouraging them, praying with them, and challenging them to believe in a better life. He became a giver.

We are created to give not to simply please ourselves. If we miss this truth, we will miss the overflowing joy-filled life that God has in store for us. If you are lonely today, do not sit around feeling sorry for yourself. Go help someone who is lonely. If you are down and discouraged, do not focus on your own need, get your mind off yourself and go help meet someone else’s need. Go visit the nursing home; call up a friend and encourage that person. If we are struggling financially, go out and help someone who has less than we have. We need to sow some seeds so God can bring us a harvest.

We can give a smile

We may say we don’t have anything to give. Sure we do. We can give a smile; we can give a hug; we can mow somebody’s lawn; we can visit someone in the hospital; we can write somebody an encouraging letter. Someone out there needs what we have to share. Some need our smile; some need our love; some need our friendship; some need our encouragement. God did not make us to function as “Lone Rangers”. He created us to be free, but He did not intend for us to be independent of each other. We really do need one another. We are to be the body.

Somebody needs our hug today. We may not realize it, but there is healing in our hug. God wants to use us to bring hope, healing, love and victory to people wherever we go. If we dare to take our mind off our troubles, get our mind off our needs, and instead seek to be a blessing to others, God will do more for us than we could even ask or think.

How long does it take to give somebody a compliment? How long does it take to tell your wife “I love you. I am glad you are mine.” How long does it take to tell your employees “You are doing a fine job. I appreciate your hard work.” It is not enough to think kind compliments; we need to express them. As the old saying puts it: “Love is not love until you give it away.” We should get up each morning with an attitude that says, “I am going to make someone happy today. I am going to help meet someone’s need. “

The Old Testament teaches “and if you spend yourselves on 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.” (Isaiah 58: 10) In other words, when we focus on being a blessing to others, God makes sure that we are blessed in abundance.

Once a cancer patient instead of sinking into a deep pit of depression, she did not constantly dwell on her sickness. In her time of the darkest hour of her life, she went to church and prayed for other people who were sick or in need. She sowed seeds of healing. And we can put it this way: “as she began to help other people in need, her light broke forth like the dawn, and her own healing came.”

Therefore, we should concentrate more on being a blessing than trying to be blessed. We need to look for opportunities to share God’s love, His gifts and His goodness with other people. The truth is the more we help others the more God will sure that we are helped.

Let’s get practical. If we have things lying around our house that we are never going to use again, why not give away to someone who would needs them? If it is not meeting a need, turn it into a seed. We will reap what we sow.

If we want to live our best life, we must develop a lifestyle of giving. Let’s nurture an attitude that says, “Who can I bless today?” Rather than how can I get blessed today?

Open our hands instead of holding on so tightly. God won’t be able to fill a closed fist with good things. And we won’t have to look far before we find someone we can help. There is a whole world out there that is crying out for help. We have an opportunity to live unselfishly by displaying the character of God. Our God is a giver.

God promised Abraham “I will bless you and make your name famous and distinguished, and you will be a blessing.” But let us notice there is a catch. We must do something; better yet, we must be something. God is implying we will be blessed so that we can be a blessing to other people. Unless we are willing to be a blessing, God will not pour out His favour in our lives. We will receive from God in the same measure we give to others. In other words, we must be faithful in the little we have right now before God will bless us with more.

Giving is a spiritual principle. Whatever we give will be given back to us. If we give a smile, we will receive smiles from others. If we are generous to people in their time of need, God will make sure that other people will be generous to us in our time of need.

A young man in Saudi Arabia was extremely wealthy and lived in an ornate palace almost too grand to describe. The man was rich beyond anything our mind could fathom. But, what intrigued me about him was the interesting way in which he used part of his wealth. Every couple of months or so, he would bring in hundreds of poor people from his country. He met with them individually and discussed their needs. Then, in most cases, he would give these people what they needed. If they needed a car, he would buy them a car. If they needed a house, he would buy them a house. If they needed money for an operation, he would provide that as well. Whatever the need, he would meet it. Is there any wonder why his business continues to flourish?

We may not have such money to give away, but we can certainly buy somebody a meal every once in a while. We can give somebody a kind word. We can go out of our comfort zone to pray for somebody in need.

Now is the time for us to develop an attitude of giving. The closest thing to the heart of our God is helping hurting people. God loves when we sing and when we pray. He loves when we come together to celebrate His goodness. But nothing pleases God more than when we take care one of His children. Jesus said: “Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”

Somebody needs what we have to give. If may not be our money, it may be our time. If may be our listening ears. It may be a hug. It may be a smile.

John Bunyan, author of the classic “The Pilgrim’s Progress”, said: “You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who cannot pay you back.” Make a decision today that you will live to be a giver. Be on the lookout each day for somebody we can bless. We can make a difference.
By Emeritus Bishop Peter Chio

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