I want to share with you about a subject that’s kind of hard to bring up. We generally shy away from discussing this topic with others. We hold it to be a pretty private thing and don’t like to discuss it openly. I know its a subject most of us would just as soon not have to address. I feel like God has laid it on my heart this morning, and I’m not sure why.
Okay, here goes…I want to talk about money. Please don’t cringe when you read that. Its really a tough subject to broach. We don’t like to bring it up, and we certainly don’t like asking others to give money.
Jesus didn’t shy away from the subject of money though, he brought it up quite often. Some 37 times in the Bible we read where Jesus spoke about it. Here’s the thing though, Jesus never once asked anyone to give money. He left that decision to the conscience of those who he talked with. What Jesus did say was money has the ability to show where a person’s allegiance lies. Money did have the ability to corrupt people. Money is not essentially a private financial issue, its a heart issue. Is our heart more aligned with our finances, or with the work of the kingdom of God?
John Wesley taught Methodists “money should be regarded as a gift of God for the benefits that it brings in ordering the affairs of civilization and the opportunities it offers for doing good. In the hands of God’s children, money is food for the hungry, clothing for the naked and shelter for the stranger.” Wesley went on to say, “Gain all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can.” Money was merely a tool for Wesley in carrying out his duty as a follower of Christ.
I think in this season, we are all being called upon to consider what we give and why we give. Do we give from our abundance, or from our heart? From our abundance would mean we give when we feel we have enough for ourselves, and so we can spare a little for someone else in need. From our heart, we give so that others will have even irregardless of what we have or don’t have. There’s a huge difference there.
I once heard someone say, “give until it hurts.” I’m not sure I understand that concept. Should our giving hurt us? Should we feel pain or anger when we give to the needs we encounter? Another person quoting that same sentiment says, “Don’t give until it hurts, give until it feels good.” I like that, I like that a lot. Give until it feels good. What a great way to look at giving. We should feel good when we give. We are addressing a need, helping others, providing for the community we are a part of.
I saw this memory which Katharine Hepburn shared from her childhood. “Once when I was a teenager, my father and I were standing in line to buy tickets for the circus. Finally, there was only one other family between us and the ticket counter. This family made a big impression on me. There were eight children, all probably under the age of 12. The way they were dressed, you could tell they didn’t have a lot of money, but their clothes were neat and clean. The children were well-behaved, all of them standing in line, two-by-two behind their parents, holding hands. They were excitedly jabbering about the clowns, animals, and all the acts they would be seeing that night. By their excitement you could sense they had never been to the circus before. It would be a highlight of their lives.
The father and mother were at the head of the pack standing proud as could be. The mother was holding her husband’s hand, looking up at him as if to say, “You’re my knight in shining armour.” He was smiling and enjoying seeing his family happy. The ticket lady asked the man how many tickets he wanted? He proudly responded, “I’d like to buy eight children’s tickets and two adult tickets, so I can take my family to the circus.” The ticket lady stated the price.
The man’s wife let go of his hand, her head dropped, the man’s lip began to quiver. Then he leaned a little closer and asked, “How much did you say?” The ticket lady again stated the price.
The man didn’t have enough money. How was he supposed to turn and tell his eight kids that he didn’t have enough money to take them to the circus?
Seeing what was going on, my dad reached into his pocket, pulled out a $20 bill, and then dropped it on the ground. (We were not wealthy in any sense of the word!) My father bent down, picked up the $20 bill, tapped the man on the shoulder and said, “Excuse me, sir, this fell out of your pocket.” The man understood what was going on. He wasn’t begging for a handout but certainly appreciated the help in a desperate, heartbreaking and embarrassing situation.
He looked straight into my dad’s eyes, took my dad’s hand in both of his, squeezed tightly onto the $20 bill, and with his lip quivering and a tear streaming down his cheek, he replied; ‘Thank you, thank you, sir. This really means a lot to me and my family.’
My father and I went back to our car and drove home. The $20 that my dad gave away is what we were going to buy our own tickets with. Although we didn’t get to see the circus that night, we both felt a joy inside us that was far greater than seeing the circus could ever provide.
That day I learnt the value to give. The giver is bigger than the receiver. If you want to be large, larger than life, learn to give. Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get – only with what you are expecting to give – which is everything. The importance of giving, blessing others can never be over emphasised because there’s always joy in giving. Learn to make someone happy by acts of giving.”
In Luke 6:37-38 Jesus says, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”
May we all learn to give from a glad and generous heart. We are only here for a little while; what we do, what we say, what we give, matters. Let’s make the most of our “little while” by sharing all we have.
Your companion on the Way,