2 Corinthians 8:9 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.
When Hannah (14) was little her vocabulary consistency astounded me. Not only did know "big" words but she could use them properly in a sentence. Occasionally, however, she would misunderstand a word and inadvertently create a brand new word. I was always delighted by her additions to the English language and at three of these remain in my vernacular today:
- Caroucycle - Found at malls, zoos and amusement parks, the caroucycle is still a favorite ride of at least two of my children. I strongly encourage the purchase of the multi-use pass but discourage the riding of any animal that does not go up and down. That is just a waste of a good caroucycle ride.
- Promote - The promote operates your television. Personally, I think she aptly named this device because the possession of it does promote "discussion" between my husband and I from time to time.
- Ife - An ife is what I put through my hand a few years back. However, we never refer to it as simply an ife. The descriptor sharp is a necessary accompaniment in our house. Sharp ifes should not be held by anyone under the age of seven...and me obviously.
With these mixed up vocabulary terms, Hannah provides our family laughter and the joy of experiencing the world through the eyes of a child. There are some gifts that just last.This morning my reading is 2 Corinthians 8. Paul is encouraging the church at Corinth to be as excellent in giving as they are in other areas such as faith, speech and love. He calls serving God in this manner "the grace of giving" (Verse 7). Grace is giving that which is unmerited. Giving that honors God is given and covered in grace.
When I evaluate the reasons I either use or have used in the past to not give, the most frequent are:
- Control - In certain situations, have been hesitant to give because I didn't like the way the recipient was spending the money. If I'm going to give with grace that means giving and then leaving the results up to God. Now I am not advocating irresponsibly giving to a charlatan or a cause God wouldn't support. But grace giving means I leave my gift freely and allow the responsibility for how that gift is used to rest squarely between the recipient and God.
- Judgment - I remember distinctly one Christmas that I helped a family only to discover that they ate out more often than I did, had greater extravagances than I did and celebrated Christmas more lavishly than I did. This grew cynicism in my heart as I began to judge whether someone was worthy of my kindness. Grace is not dependent on the receiver's merit. I give because He asks to whom He asks. My job is not to question the value of the beneficiary but to give.
When I was in college, I spent a summer doing short term missions. I can't remember every teaching I received twenty years ago, but this one lesson has stuck with me. Live simply so others can simply live. When I give out of love for God, I am blessed with joy. The gift I receive from Him far outweighs that which I give away because His gifts last.
Jesus, today teach me to have a simple heart that longs only to know You and to freely give what I have received. I choose to give You control and to cast judgement far from my heart. Help me narrow down my financial priorities to those that most honor You so others can simply live.