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Sunday: Motivation for Giving — 8 Comments

  1. When my kids were little we used to give them birthday presents. And it was not just a case of buying something in the shop. We often made presents. I remember making my daughter a 4 poster doll's bed. I made the frame out of wood and varnished it, and Carmel made the curtains and bed linen. The real joy was seeing our daughter's huge enjoyment on opening the present and seeing it for the first time. My daughter is almost 50 now and she still has it in her possession.

    Giving is not just handing over some money or time because that is a good and unselfish thing to do. It is involvement and connection. So much of our giving these days is rather mechanical. Particularly now that many of us use electronic banking to do the donating for us.

    This week we are thinking about our offerings and I would like to suggest that we think of ways we can make our offerings a more connective experience. That may go a long way towards providing motivation.

  2. The New Age "Law of Attraction" says that you get back in spades what you give or put out there. Sounds like the Bible. The difference is the motivation. Our Christian walk is just that, a walk with Jesus. We give not because we are trying to reap a reward for ourselves, not because we are trying to attract abundance and be happier, but because our hearts are yoked together with Jesus and this joy of being in relationship with Him bubbles out of us.

    Sometimes we're tired and anticipating giving doesn't feel like something we want to do. Here's my example of this from today. Now that I live with others, I usually take Sabbath afternoons out of the house. I go to a college campus nearby, after the church service, and have a couple hours to myself for Bible study, prayer, walks in a park-like place. I also have started using this afternoon time for connecting with the large homeless population in the area. Some weeks I feel like doing someone's laundry or buying some shoes or reading the Bible on a sidewalk with smoke blowing in my face or listening or saying a prayer over a precious person. Other days, like today, with a sore eye stye, I would rather keep to myself. But as I was driving home at 6 pm, there was a man at the stoplight with a sign. With today's Sabbath School lesson fresh in my thoughts, the Holy Spirit gently said to stop. Another lady in the church has been supplying me with care packages of toiletries and Steps to Christ books to hand out, so I pulled over into a gas station and grabbed one of those. I told God, "I'm tired. I am not feeling like sharing of myself right now, but I love Your child and You love this man so much it's beyond my understanding. Please love him through me right now." After I asked the man if he'd like the package, I asked his name, "David". He said "God bless you" and I said, "You're my brother from another mother" and touched his arm. That's all that came from me in that moment... from my perspective. Seems silly and maybe even embarrassing. But only God knows what He is going to do with that encounter.

    Sometimes we humans skimp or scrimp (yup, those are two different words, I just looked it up) ...we pinch and spare and economize and save. We have so little, it feels that way sometimes, so little energy or ability or time or opportunity or respect from others or connections or whatever it is. Here's another snapshot from today. At church, a 10th-grader was to give the sermon. He began strong, clear points and an engaging slide show. Looking around, I saw other teens listening more intently. And then all of a sudden he wasn't able to continue and sat down in the big seat on the platform, while his father popped up from the congregation and finished the sermon using his son's slideshow. Fittingly, the sermon was about competition vs. a servant heart. The son's weakness, and the father's quickness to take what his son had prepared and use it to deliver God's message to us, was powerful.

    To tie all of this together, what the Holy Spirit is telling me today flushes out 1 Cor. 1:27-31. God has chosen us to team with Him. We humans, even with all of our smarts and inventions and moon walks, we who are still so clueless and weak compared to our Father, He chooses us to confound all that seems wise and strong by the world's standards. God's kingdom includes the little boy with his lunch shared, the widow's mite, the sparrows valued at pennies, the guilty thief dying publicly under capital punishment, Naaman's wife's servant girl, you, me. We don't have to have any salary at all; I don't right now. We are invited to give even if nothing is promised in return, like Abraham and Isaac on Mt. Moriah, because our heart is melting more and more into God's heart.

      • Praise God! There is one more meaningful, connected thing that happened on my Sabbath day ....

        Before the sermon was the children's story. She told of a Native American boy who was asked to go through the traditional right-of-passage to become a man. The teen boy had to go off into the woods overnight, alone, and sit on a rock all night wearing a blindfold. During the long, difficult dark hours he heard blood-curdling howls nearby and animal rustlings all around. His nerves were on alert and he may have been frightened at times, but he remained on the rock, unseeing. In the morning as the birds began to twitter and he felt the warming sun on his shoulders, he knew he could take off his blindfold. When he did, there beside him sat his father. His dad, the Chief, had been beside him the whole night. He never had been in any real danger. His part in becoming mature, his offering, was only to sit patiently on the rock.

  3. Luke records the parable of the Good Samaritan -- a story I have read many times. To me, one of the ‘nuggets’ from the story is that, when the Good Samaritan brought the injured man to the inn, he paid the inn keeper 2 denarii. My Andrews study Bible says that 1 denarius was a day’s wage. The Good Samaritan gave 20% of his weekly income to help a stranger, and with the promise to give more if needed. I have to question myself and what should I do to help others.

  4. When it comes to giving, I am always reminded on that “everything good comes from God; every perfect gift is from Him” – James1:17-18. Knowing this causes me to reflect what it is that motivates me to share His good gifts with others - so then, what motivates me to give? Understanding giving, sharing, and caring in Light of God's Truth helps greatly to understand 'motivation'.

    If everything we have is given to us by His generous, loving disposition to care for us, how can we 'give' something that we have received as a gift to show that God cares for us. Can that which is given to sustaine us be considered as 'ours'?

    I think the only way to balance out all aspects of 'giving' is to recognize that we are stewards of God’s blessings - spiritual and material -, to consider 'giving and sharing' His increase made available to us from the position of being a steward of His 'Gifts of Benevolence'.

    Our heavenly Father has placed His love into our heart and mind for us to recognize that we are brothers and sisters in Christ and members of the heavenly family. With those not yet part of the fellowship of believers, not recognizing that all humanity has a Creator Father, we share the Light of God’s Truth and material goods we are given to be stewards of – Matt.25:14-30.

    We have the extraordinary privilege of humbly living our born-again life according to our Creator's Will and Way; never again to worry about how and by Whom our life is being sustained – Psalm 23.

  5. I either believe in God or not. There is no impartiality in faith. And if I want to have faith in God I need to know Him. oOe of the best ways is to study the Bible. The Bible tells me a lot about a merciful and loving God Who is always willing to save me.

    A challenging question could be, "Is it possible to do the right thing and be rejected by God?"

    Doing is very important, but the motivation behind the action is more! Do I do the right thing just because I do not want to be caught? Because I'm only looking for the benefits? That's why I give tithes and offerings? It might not be wrong to think this way, but once the motivation for my faithfulness comes from knowing a God Who is love, and that I do not want Him to be sad with me, maybe I got the right motivation then. When I am moved to do the right thing because I love God and recognize my total dependence on Him, things change! I do not look for prizes anymore, I look for His presence and friendship, because it is very good to walk with Him and to have a relationship with Him. Nevertheless, I still have to fight my 'self', my ego, but true Love equips me much more to win over the 'me'.


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