This Grace of Giving
“Mommy, what do I have to give in order to get a remote control helicopter?”
His question was sincere. I had just sent the kids upstairs to look through their toys and find ones that they could give away. My local MOPS group is hosting a gently used toy giveaway event in order to bless a teen moms group. It is the perfect opportunity for my children to practice giving.
But first I needed to answer my boy’s question.
“You don’t have to give anything away in order to get a helicopter, Buddy! We don’t give because of what we can get. We give out of the generosity of our hearts.”
As I pondered his question more, I thought about how easy it is to misunderstand giving. We are at a time of year when we are expected to give. Our culture emphasizes the naughty or nice list. We have a million and one amazing causes that pull at our heart strings. We can’t walk into the grocery store without being tempted to buy, buy, buy.
No wonder my kids are confused with what giving means!
The truth is that if we stuck with the naughty or nice list concept, my kids would probably not be getting a thing. But we do not give gifts to our children at Christmas time because they deserve it. We give to them, because gift giving is a way to demonstrate our love. It mimics the Greatest Gift Giver of all.
I cannot go a single day without hearing about a new cause or a new opportunity to give to those who are in need and I have to tell you that it is overwhelming. Because of course I want to give a toy to the child who doesn’t have anything! Absolutely, I want everyone to have food to eat! Imagining anyone facing the frigid weather of Western New York without a winter coat is unbearable to me. Do I want to eradicate slavery? Yes, I do! I want to buy local AND support those who are trying to earn a living in destitute situations.
I want to do all these things, but then I go to buy groceries and I see the adorable beanie boos staring at me with their big eyes and I picture the little eyes at home that are sure to light up when they find them in their stockings. I see the shiny covers of books in the check out aisle and I picture our family sitting around our living room on Christmas morning, everyone reading their own book, delighted as they embark on a new adventure. I see the Lego sets and the super cute dolls, the adorable tutus and super hero capes. And I want to get it all, because giving to my children has become a monster growing inside of me.
Then I read in 2 Corinthians 8 about how Overflowing Joy + Extreme Poverty = Rich Generosity. How the Macedonian church did not do what was expected, but gave themselves first to the Lord (vs. 5). And how Paul used their example to challenge the Corinthians to excel in this grace of giving.
This Grace of Giving- I have been pondering this concept ever since I read this passage a few days ago. Because if I am being honest with myself, I would have to admit that I often ask the same question my boy asked. What do I have to give in order to get what I want? But I know in my heart of hearts that this is the wrong question to ask. I know that this question brings no joy and no satisfaction.
And so I am on a mission, a quest to discover what this grace of giving really means. I think it starts with understanding the grace that has been given to me. It starts with seeking to know who Jesus is, what he sacrificed on my behalf, what he ultimately accomplished. It starts with understanding that there is no “naughty or nice” list when it comes to Jesus. I was completely dead in my own sins, there was no goodness in me, I did not deserve his love. But he gave it freely anyway.
The million and one causes? Well, I must first give myself to the Lord and then trust him to work through me. I can’t fix the problems in the world, but He can. I can’t give financially to every single cause, but I can give to the one He puts before me. I don’t need to feel guilty for not being able to contribute financially to every. single. thing. This grace of giving is extravagant, extreme, overflowing and rich, but that doesn’t mean it will always be monetary.
For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have. ~2 Corinthians 8:12
When I don’t have the funds, what can I give? Can I give my time? My prayers? My “extras” (toys, books, shoes, clothes)? Can I give out of the overflow of my heart?
THIS is the grace of giving!
It is not about giving just to give. I need to hear that again. IT IS NOT ABOUT GIVING JUST TO GIVE. My kids don’t deserve more things and quite frankly, they don’t need them either. But they do need to understand the extravagant love and grace that Jesus has bestowed on them. And so, we will practice this grace of giving. We will give generously and freely to all. And my prayer is that they will learn “It is more blessed to give than to receive”.
How do you practice “this grace of giving”? Do you excel at it?