Monday, November 28, 2011

Giving A Season or A Lifestyle?

Christmas shopping season has begun. Many call this time of year the season of giving. I know from experience that giving gifts to the people I love gives me great joy. But why does giving have to be confined in our minds as just a season or a time between Thanksgiving and Christmas? If it is true that out of thanks comes giving then why can't giving be a way of life?

On the news this morning there was a story about a family on food stamps. There are more and more families on food stamps these days. Often we think of people on food stamps as not having jobs. This is not always the case. Right now there are more and more working families on food stamps. They barely make their bills and struggle to feed their families. There are people out there choosing between electricity and dinner or paying the water bill and getting needed medication.

It occurs to me that our society focuses on people in need of help especially during this time of year. I am thankful that they are not forgotten but why do we only see them at Thanksgiving and Christmas? We are surrounded by them regularly and yet our eyes only see them when it's a holiday. It can be overwhelming at this time of year with Salvation Army bell ringers on every corner, churches asking for money to help hungry children in Africa, Toys for Tots, Samaritans Purse, and the local food pantry. I find myself feeling overwhelmed with the needs out there wishing I could do more and feeling like I can never do enough. God and I have had quite a few conversations about this recently. The question always being " What is it you want me to to do?"

The Bible says this in 1 John 3:17-18 , " But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth." We don't just see need at Christmas. I am convinced that we see need weekly and perhaps at times daily. Think about the people in your life chances are you know about some of their needs. What I believe this verse is saying is that if we see our brother or sister in need and we have what they need or are financially able to give them what they need, we ought to do it. If I know that my neighbor is lonely and has no family nearby to help her it does no good for me to say to her, "I am sorry you're all alone. I will pray that God brings you some friends". That is loving in word I am supposed to love in deed which requires action. That means I am to be my neighbor's friend so that she is no longer lonely. If I know of someone who is working hard but doesn't always make enough money to meet their needs and I have money I can use to help them, then I should do that.

There have been many times that I have thought I couldn't help the person in need that God kept bringing to mind because I needed to save money for a car repair, the orthodontist, or vacation. But what is more important? I can't take it with me when I die and I have never had a need myself that God didn't provide for. Often I think we hesitate to give because we are afraid we will need it for ourselves and not have it. This is not true because we can never out give God and He always takes care of us. I may not be able to give to every charity this Christmas season, but I can make giving a lifestyle by using what God has given me to help the people that He has placed right in front of me. I believe that if God makes us aware of a person's need it's so that He can show us how He wants to use us to meet that need.

I want to make giving a lifestyle. To do this it's important to ask God to make me sensitive daily to the needs of others and to open my eyes to every opportunity to meet a need. Finally, I need to ask Him to help me follow through in meeting the needs that He brings to my attention without hesitating. Will you do the same? Think about the opportunities that lie ahead of us to love others this way and in so doing introduce them to the One who gave the ultimate gift and has met the ultimate need of salvation!

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