Have You Discovered the Joy of Grateful Giving?
by Debbie Wilson
I’ve noticed giving people are joyful people. Ironically some of the most joyful giving comes out of lack or when giving involves sacrifice and stretches our faith.
I told my friend and prayer partner, “God answered our prayer. The publisher says they’ll pay for a third page ad.”
“Wonderful,” she said. “I’ll bump it up to a half page.”
My friend’s generosity humbled me. The fact that she is undergoing chemo for metastatic cancer hasn’t quelled her joy in giving.
I’ve noticed that joy and generosity are related. My most generous friends are also my most joyful ones. That makes sense since the Scripture says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35 NIV).
My parents grew up during the Great Depression and recycled before recycling became politically correct. Waste was a mortal sin. When we visited the cafeteria, they told my sister and me to choose between salad and dessert. We didn’t need both.
My frugal upbringing benefited me when I joined the ministry. My husband and I have spent our whole married life in vocational Christian work where we’re responsible to raise the funds for our salary and ministry expenses. But alas, while we both enjoy the ministry, neither of us liked fund raising.
The ability to raise money is a special talent or motivation that didn’t seem to come with our call to Christian service. Often those on our ministry teams who enjoyed full pay checks and reimbursements for expenses weren’t the ones with thriving ministries—and vice versa. We were among those blessed with fruitful ministries but limped by on short paychecks.
During our stint with a youth ministry, we lived in Southern California. Housing costs were the highest in the nation at the time we bought our first home. Add in the sky-high interest rates of the early 80s and you understand why the monthly mortgage on our 60-year-old arts and craft bungalow drained us dry.
My husband invited Romanian pastor Richard Wurmbrand to speak to our youth conference. His testimony of horrific persecution and the grace God granted him in prison stirred my heart. I wanted to help his ministry to the persecuted church. But what could I do?
I remembered the money I was saving for a new sewing machine. I’d inherited my mother’s finicky Singer sewing machine. That Christmas my husband Larry had given me money to put toward the Swiss model I wanted. Should I use that money?
Gratitude filled my heart as I wrote out a check for the exact amount I’d saved. Tears welled as I approached Mrs. Wurmbrand and handed her my check. I couldn’t understand her English, but she filled my arms with books her husband had written. She gave back before she even knew what I’d given her.
I left with a full heart knowing it really is more blessed to give than to receive. I didn’t have to wait until I had more to be able to partake in the gladness of lavish giving.
Biblical Examples of Grateful Giving
The Macedonian churches also discovered this joy. The Apostle Paul described their giving.
“In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us” (2 Cor. 8:2-5 NIV).
How do we partake of the blessedness of giving when we ourselves may be lacking?
The Macedonians “gave themselves first of all to the Lord.” They surrendered themselves and all they had to God and looked to Him, not to their limited resources, to meet their needs.
When we know God as Provider, we give out of a grateful heart. He is our motivation and supply.
Jesus demonstrated this when He fed 5000 men and their families. He thanked His Father for the five small loaves and two small fish before God multiplied one boy’s lunch to feed the crowd (John 6). Every person ate all they wanted with 12 basketfuls of leftovers for the disciples.
The widow demonstrated grateful giving when she gave all that she had. Jesus did not measure her gift by how many coins she dropped into the collection box, but how many she had left.
“This poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on” (Luke 21:1-4 NIV).
We can give with gratitude because giving to the Lord plants our heart in Him (Matt. 6:21). And in His presence is fullness of joy.
Months after I invested my sewing machine fund into God’s kingdom, my sewing teacher approached me. She had a new machine, the brand I wanted, she’d bought for her daughter-in-law who showed no interest in sewing. She offered to sell it to me at a reduced rate and let me pay in installments. God provided me the joy of giving and also granted me the desires of my heart.
Jesus, Our Example
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9 NIV).
Jesus left heaven’s glory to endure Calvary’s gore so that we could enjoy eternal life. Remembering our Lord’s sacrifice motivates grateful giving. We want others to know this grace too.
What would happen if we fully trusted God and opened our hearts and hands to His people at His prompting? I think we’d be a more joyful witness to the world.
Drawing from her walk with Christ, and years as a Christian counselor, coach, and Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson helps women enjoy grace-filled lives. She is the author of Little Women, Big God, Give Yourself a Break, and Little Faith, Big God, to be released February 2020. She and her husband Larry founded and run Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit counseling, coaching, and Bible teaching ministry. Debbie enjoys a good mystery, dark chocolate, and the antics of her two standard poodles. Find free resources to refresh your faith at debbieWwilson.com.
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