The 10 Day Give is right around the corner (I encourage you to visit the site and join the 10 Day Give).
What is the 10 Day Give? It is a collaborative effort from around the web to encourage people to focus on giving over a ten day period.
I fully support the effort. In fact, before last year’s 10 Day Give, I put together a list of 101 Ways To Give: Time, Money, Energy, and Talents.
This year I want to focus on the heart of giving.
I want to focus on the heart of giving because right now my giving heart feels a little calloused. Perhaps it’s not my heart, but it is my mind that has put up some barriers.
I’ve found that when I give to people in need, I rarely get a thank you.
I don’t mind the fact that people don’t say thank you, but I wish (for their own sake) they would recognize a gift when it is extended. If we don’t recognize grace when we receive it, it is hard for people to give honor to God.
Case and point.
Last week we hosted a national church seminar here in Alotau. Many people came in on the boat, but during the week both boats broke down and people were stranded in Alotau. There are no roads connecting us to other parts of the country so the only way out (when boats aren’t running) is by plane. Of course, the plane costs twice as much as the boat costs, and several of our visitors had no way to make up the difference or pay for children. Children 5 and under are free on the boat, but you pay for a plane ticket when kids are over 2.
Anyway, my wife and I (along with several others) helped buy plane tickets for people so they could get home. We went to the ticketing office, bought the tickets, and dropped them off at the airport.
I can count on one hand the number of times any one of the five people said thank you – ZERO.
So, I’ll be brutally honest. That hardened my heart.
Several years ago, my wife and I were unable to travel to either of our homes for American Thanksgiving so we decided to go and serve a meal to the homeless in Memphis, TN. Not only were there no thank yous spoken, but there was downright aggression as people fought for the food they were waiting for. Most people were rude and insensitive.
That hardened my heart.
Why Keep Giving?
One of my favorite giving stories takes place in Africa. (I don’t remember who told it to me, so if it’s your story, I apologize for not attributing it to you.)
As the story goes, an elderly man wanders into a church service one Sunday morning. He is unfamiliar with the church customs and practices, but he has a genuine interest in learning more about Christianity. In the middle of the service, a man stands up and draws a circle in the dirt on the ground. The church has the custom of drawing the line and asking people to come to the front and put their financial gifts into the circle. The elderly man is unprepared and embarrassed by the fact that he has nothing to give. After several awkward moments, he walks to the front and sits in the middle of the circle.
Now that’s that I’m talking about. That is the heart of giving. To give yourself before you give anything you keep in your pocket, purse, or wallet.
Paul says it this way -
And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will. (2 Corinthians 8:5 NIV)
We give because we are recipients of a gift we often take for granted and often forget to thank God for.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9 NIV)
We have been made spiritually rich by the sacrifice of another. As a Christ follower, it is our nature to give because it is the nature of our Savior. Sometimes giving may be a challenge, but we await the full redemption of our salvation as we live in the midst of this fallen world. And, by the grace of God, we develop a giving heart so that the name of Jesus might be glorified.
Photo by CarbonNYC.
God, give us tender hearts. Teach us to give as you have given.