Giving from a Grateful Heart
by Becky Harling
Muddy. Tired. Hungry. We sat down at a rough wooden picnic table. We were in a tiny village nestled deep in the Amazon jungle. We had flown in a small 10 seat plane and hiked through mud that was knee deep in order to see the water project.
We had been advised, “We won’t leave the village until they have finished serving lunch.” Honestly, I felt a bit anxious about lunch. I’ve always been a fairly picky eater and deeply valued cleanliness. A bit of a “germ-a-phobic,” lunch was going to be a stretch. Thankfully, we had been given the opportunity to wash our hands with soap and water. And now we sat waiting.
Proudly the women came carrying pots of food cooked and prepared with love. Our plates were piled with rice, a type of banana and three small pieces of pork. The villagers had served us their best. They had shared the pork from the pig their men had killed earlier that week and rice was a luxury reserved for only special occasions. We bowed our heads as the leader of the water project prayed in Spanish. In my heart, I whispered my own prayer, “Lord, these precious villagers have given from a grateful heart. They are so thankful to have clean water! Holy One, I lay before you all my obsessions about food and cleanliness and I receive with a grateful heart what they have offered. Help me to eat what’s been prepared for the glory of Jesus Christ.”
Later that afternoon after a hot shower and a change of clothes, I reflected on what it really means to give from a grateful heart. Certainly, the villagers had given from a grateful heart, prioritizing our needs for food over their own. I’ve always thought of giving in terms of overflow. If I have extra, I will give it away. But what if giving from a grateful heart is a bit costlier?
As I pondered this thought in my mind, I began to see that God wants me to give sacrificially because He gave His Son, Jesus, sacrificially at great cost. The same holds true for you. As Christ followers who have been radically transformed by grace, we need to give sacrificially out of a grateful heart. So, what does this look like? Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
Give of your time. As Americans, we deeply value our time. We pride ourselves on planning every minute so that we are as productive as possible. The problem is when a neighbor has an emergency that doesn’t fit our plan, we view it as an inconvenience. As you look toward Thanksgiving, what if you viewed your time as a resource to be sacrificially given away because you’re grateful for the hours God has given you? Maybe it’s creating the space to serve the homeless, or maybe it’s offering a ride to the elderly, or rocking the baby of your next-door neighbor so that the baby’s Mama can have a break. Maybe it’s offering to work in nursery at your church or praying with a stressed-out friend on the phone. The key is to not view unexpected interruptions to your schedule as inconveniences but to view them as opportunities to give from a grateful heart.
Share your home and food. In our fast-paced society, hospitality is becoming a lost art. What if you viewed your home not as a place for your personal convenience but as a place set apart to offer peace and hope to others? Instead of simply inviting your friends over, why not throw a Christmas open house for your neighborhood and view it as a way to simply offer hope and joy this holiday season? Or find out who doesn’t have plans for Thanksgiving and open your home to those who are lonely. Reach out to the refugees in your area and invite them into your home. Would it cost you personally? Yup. But might God use you to make a difference in a life? Yup.
Become a partner with a mission. There are a lot of great missionary organizations around the world. Find one that fits your passion and become a fully engaged ministry partner. What do I mean by fully engaged? I mean, don’t just give your money—definitely give your money—in fact, give until it hurts and watch God provide. But beyond giving money, become an active prayer partner and plan at least one trip to visit a field of your choice. Here’s the thing, when you go and actually see what’s going on, you’ll be changed forever! If you’re not, contact me and I’ll fly to wherever you are and take you out for coffee! Once you go, you’ll be able to give more generously and pray more effectively.
As I reflect on my time in the Amazon village, I am deeply grateful! I’m grateful for villagers who gave their best so that we wouldn’t have to hike out of the jungle hungry. I’m thankful that my food preferences were challenged and I was given the opportunity to grow. I’m thankful that I know how to pray more effectively for all the villages where we have water projects and that I have a picture in my head as I pray. Friend, as we approach Thanksgiving, become a grateful and generous giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7 teaches us that God loves it when His people give generously, without holding back! So, go for it! Give until it hurts this Thanksgiving and watch how God responds.
Becky Harling is a John Maxwell Certified Coach, Trainer and Speaker. Becky is a nationally known speaker who has been featured on National Syndicated Radio and TV shows such as Moody Midday Connection, Family Talk with Dr. Dobson, KRKS, Divine Calling, WKTO Daily Moments, Mars Hill Today, and The Harvest TV show. Her husband Steve Harling, is the new president of Reach Beyond, a non-profit dedicated to being the voice and hands of Jesus around the world. Although passionate about speaking and writing, Becky is most excited about her role as a wife, mother of 4 grown children and grandmother to 9. Her latest book, How to Listen So People Will Talk, will release August 2017.
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