Over the years my husband and I have learned to trust God with our income and finances.  I know — that sounds “holier than thou”,  but I promise it really isn’t.  We have learned to tithe off of our income and even when times got really tight financially, we didn’t allow ourselves to pull from that 10% in order to pay for this bill or that bill.  But MAN has it been tempting!!!

History Lesson:
I’ve been reading the Chronological Bible this year and I have learned an awful lot about how tithing started.  When Moses was leading the Israelites out of captivity/horrible conditions, God identified some key families/tribes.  He designated land for each of them – EXCEPT for the tribe of Levi, also known as the Levites.  {{{technically, Joshua let the Israelites into Canaan, but Moses got the low down just before they went in}}}  The Levites were basically what we would now consider pastors/priests/preachers.  God didn’t give them anything because he wanted the other tribes to give their first fruits or the best of their flocks or the first of their gold to the Levites as sacrifices in God’s name.

In an interesting turn of events, we don’t feel like we have “checked the giving box” and we are now off the hook.  In fact, just the opposite has happened.  We feel more compassion to those who are struggling with losing their homes, struggling to find employment, caring for their elderly parents and so on.  But here’s where I get stuck — constantly:

What if they don’t use the money we give them to pay for that bill or fix their car?

Many years ago, my husband’s parents gave us a really hefty check and said, “use it however you want.”  I didn’t know what to do!  I was paralyzed with wanting to honor them and their intentions for the gift, but also there were some “fun” things that we would have loved to spend that money on — like a vacation since we struggle each summer to come up with the money for a good family trip.  I think I drove my mother in-law bat-stir-crazy by asking her over and over how she would like us to spend the money.  She was (and still is) a cheerful giver.

Be a cheerful giver.

7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  2 Corinthians 9:7

And now we like to be cheerful givers.  There have been times in the past when we have chosen a grocery store gift card over cash because we couldn’t trust that the cash would be used wisely.  There have been times when we did anonymous grocery drops on people’s doorsteps (and our son LOVES to participate in those!).  My husband has been known to mow yards for active service members, or I help someone with transporting their kids from here to there.  But often times we have given cash anonymously because we feel God calling us to do so… no matter how we think the recipients will spend it.

No, we don’t hear voices.  We don’t have visions.  God doesn’t hang out in our old rickety recliner.  But we feel it in our hearts that He is telling us to do something for particular people.  Sometimes if one of us feels it and the other doesn’t, we give a small gift.  But when we both feel it, we give cheerfully and freely.

Be kind, but don’t be naive.

It’s not for us to say how those folks should spend their gifts, just like my mother in-law wouldn’t direct us.  Be kind when you give, but don’t be naive.  If giving a cash gift to someone is going to feed an existing addiction or a string of selfish behavior,  get creative and think of other ways to give, because adding fuel to a hot fire isn’t going to help anyone.  Sometimes the best gift can be time.  YOUR time.  It doesn’t have to be a monetary gift.

This isn’t about me… it’s about WE.

The hubs and I are not wealthy people.  I’m not sharing this for you to say “WOW!  WAY TO GO ANN!  We have old furniture and weeds in our yard, and we wear clothes until they fall apart.  But we always have something to give, and you do too.   This isn’t about me… it’s about WE.  How are WE called to help those around us? Psst!  That includes you!  You are part of this “we.”

The best anonymous gift I ever received was when I was recovering from a really rough throat surgery.  I found flowers and a wad of cash on my front porch.  I fell onto my knees and sobbed.  It wasn’t the size of the flowers (they were grocery store flowers), and it wasn’t the amount of money (prob $150-$200), it was the idea that someone cared enough about ME to take the time to bless me.  I knew people cared.  And honestly that was all I really needed.  Life struggles can be very lonely, even for extroverts like me.  I needed to know people cared.  Period.

I would love to hear about the BEST anonymous gift you have ever given or have ever received!!!!  (and yes, you can leave your comment anonymously – wink)

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4 thoughts on “to give or not to give?

  1. We feel blessed that we can give. We love to bless others. Sometimes we can give a little more than others. We try to keep a “stash” so that we can give spontaneously and freely. One time that I felt so glad that things worked out was on Christmas Eve morning at Kohl’s. I had to run into kohl’s very early on the 24th to get a new pair of black heals for an upcoming trip. At the checkout counter i had to wait in a not very long line for a very long time…someone was having some issues. Anyways, I watched this lady a few folks ahead of me continually hold up an item, check the price tag and lay it down in one of two piles. The store manager came and opened another checkout line and the 3 ladies in line between myself and this lady if been watching were the only ones left in our line. When this lady got to the register she handed the cashier one stack and said she didn’t need these. Then she rang up the rest of her items. She had 6 items and her total was 19.56. One of these was a sweet dress she was buying for her daughter – probably 6 years old (based on the size of the dress). This one item was almost $10. These were on sale, but still not “top of the line” items. As she got ready to pay she searched through her purse and pockets, and jacket, and purse, and purse again. She couldn’t find her debit card. She was so flustered. She kept apologizing saying she had just left Wal-Mart and she must have left it there. Anyways, she was obviously upset. I reached up and handed her a $20 bill to cover her purchases. The lady almost fell down in tears. I imagine she was trying to keep her total under $20, on Christmas Eve morning, because that is absolutely all she could manage. As she left the store she thanked me profusely and commented that she was so thankful there were still a few nice people in the world. It was a $20 bill. I’ll toss a few extra things in my cart at Target and waste $20 in a heartbeat. It was a blessing to be able to bless. That’s why we have our little “stash” for moments just like that. It’s just a little thing, but hopefully made her day. And hopefully she was able to spend that $20 she’d saved on something unexpected and something she’d really wanted but couldn’t afford.

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  2. GREAT message, Ann! Thank you so much for sharing. I pray it will give LOTS of people something to chew on, then move on!!

    Blessings,

    Brenda Powell

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