Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Gift of Giving~ Heather Young

“And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Acts 20:35b

People in the United States are very privileged. Many of us have homes with numerous luxuries: clean, running water to drink; uncontaminated food in a refrigerator to eat, and; a warm be to sleep in, just to name a few. Since we middle-class Americans are so blessed, we often look down upon or even ignore the less fortunate. Especially during the holiday season, we need to remember to give not only Christmas presents, but also the things that have eternal meaning.

”Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Matthew 6:19-21

Lasting treasures are the unseen things that we share with others, such as love and compassion. John Calvin once said, “Faith alone saves, but faith that saves is never alone.” This quote means that we are not saved by our actions, but if we are saved (by faith), our actions will show it. Generosity may be one of the character qualities of a believer.

“A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.”
Proverbs 22:9
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Luke 6:38

See? giving doesn’t just reward the person receiving, but also the giver! While there will be a reward in heaven for giving here, do not be expecting a reward on earth. We shouldn’t walk around like a peacock showing off all its feathers (generous works), but instead, as Jesus explained during his Sermon on the Mount:

“But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Matthew 6:3-4

Giving to the needy is important, but we also need to remember to give to God.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.”
Romans 12:1

Everyone is different. Everyone has different income levels and limits on how much money they can spend on gifts. But everyone is someone who can do something to affect someone else.
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins worth only a fraction of a penny.
Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
Mark 12:41-44
“But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”
1 John 3:17-18

Even something as simple as sending a Christmas card to a someone you don’t usually get along with could make a huge difference in their life. I challenge you (and myself) to find a person, whether a family member or schoolmate, who you never really talk to, and give them a Christmas card. A homemade one would be super duper special. If you try the challenge, please leave a comment! I would love to know how you made somebody’s day!

Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Romans 12:13

Did you know that Heather loves clouds?!
Did you know that Abby loves Pintrest?!
Did you know that Haylie is constantly being teased by everyone?!

Photographs property of Lilies Among Thorns Magazine. Photographs taken by Abby Whear and Haylie Gregory.

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