Generosity and Teachable Moments

We were late for nap and driving toward the store to get the last few ingredients I needed for dinner. My three year old was in the back of the car enjoying a home-made fruit roll-up (a special treat) and singing songs while we waited at the stoplight, and what happened in the next half hour radically changed my spiritual life in regards to finances…

It is almost humorous how the sin of pride creeps up on us when we least expect it. I can all too often recall pridefully reflecting on how money was not our God, after all, how could it be when we’ve had no money to spend? Living month to month and scrounging every penny, it became quite easy to dismiss the myriad of scriptures that warn us what can happen if wealth and finances rule our lives. One day I was praying through Luke, and as I read I was struck in a new way by Luke 16:13, “You cannot serve God and Mammon”. At first I contentedly pondered that we had done a fine job of  “not laying up treasures on earth” (Matthew 6:19) as we had no money to  “lay up treasures” with.

Ready to start my busy day, I hurried on to pray when the Holy Spirit spoke firmly and convictingly into my life about what it means to serve God versus money. I began to realize (through the Grace of God) that finances can be our master not only in their abundance but in their lack as well. My sins in this area were that I had allowed my worry about our finances and how we would get by in the short and long term to  overshadow my trust in God as the provider. I was using my finances as an excuse to not give generously and freely as Christ called us to. Martin Luther King said, “There are three conversions necessary, the conversion of the heart, mind and the purse”. It is often easy to think of converting our heart and mind to the things of Christ but truly and intentionally examining our purse and how that can be used in a powerful way when it is given over to God is something that I had never considered before. So practically for our family we began to intentionally “converting our purse” to Christ.

One of the biggest things that I pray through is that of giving. When God calls us to give we ought to give. It is our act of obedience to Him. The Widow gave her last mite (Mark 12:41) in obedience, and if we are called to do so, we must be willing to give it as well. This past year has been one of transformation for me as I try and let go of my “purse” and hold onto the promises of God and obediently give sacrificially.

But to finish my story, we were sitting at a stoplight when my daughter, with her mouth full of her treat, asked about the man on the side of the road who was begging. I explained what his sign said: “hungry vet needs food,” and she immediately removed the fruit roll up from her mouth and asked if she could give it to him. Her favorite treat lay soggy and sticky in her chubby palms, and I sat at the light looking at her longing to give, not just in general, but to give sacrificially and generously her treat to the stranger she had never met. As we drove through the light I realized the importance of allowing her to obey the call of God on her three year old life to give generously to this man in need. We drove to the local store and with our last $10 in grocery money my daughter selected some food for him. We drove back  and she handed him the food out the window. The rest of the week I wondered how we would get by without the food that that $10 was suppose to by, and you know what? GOD PROVIDED FOR THE MAN THAT WAS BEGGING AND FOR OUR FAMILY! Somehow my pantry grew that week and our family continued to eat healthily without a problem.

The way my heart grew by being obedient to the call God had on my daughters’ life was huge, but the lesson that demonstrated to her about listening when we are asked to give generously and sacrificially will help her as she continues to listen to the voice of God in years to come. We now have brown paper bags in our car which we stock with non perishables, toothbrushes and a tract so when we see someone in need we can give when we are called even amongst busy schedules and nap times. My kids love everything in those bags but they still hand them over joyfully when they see someone in need. My 2 year old even offered her favorite toothbrush to the bags the other day (if you knew how much she loved that well worn brush you would agree that her sacrifice was on par with the widow who gave her last mite).

Now it is your turn to chime into this conversation. In what ways do you intentionally give sacrificially to invest in the lives of others and how do you bring your children alongside you in this task? What benefits has your family reaped from generous giving?

(Post by: Amie)


4 Responses to “Generosity and Teachable Moments”

  1. 1 Amie October 14, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    I wrote this post a year ago and am just as convicted by the lesson my daughter taught me as I was when it first happened. I look forward to hearing your reflections!

  2. 2 Ellie October 15, 2010 at 2:08 am

    I am cautious giving to people on the side of the road begging, but we were eating once and we saw an old man walking with crutches. He came and sat down at one of the tables with just a cup of coffee. We couldn’t help notice that where his elbows rested on his arm crutches, his jacket had worn to shreds and was hanging off there.

    We watched him for a few moments, and then assessing his general preference in jacket style and size, we got up, walked in the store, bought a jacket, and put the receipt in the bag.

    Then I gave the bag to one of my kids and asked them to give it to him and only say, “This is for you. I hope you enjoy it.” and walk away. We walked out to where he could not see us but we could see him, and enjoyed watching him open it.

    He was not begging, but he was in need. I enjoy the chances to teach my children to notice need in those around them – especially those who would never ask. I’ve had the delight of watching them, as they grow, take the initiative to meet the needs of those around them whether it be something simple such as unloading a older person’s groceries or entertaining a toddler in a long line at the airport to give his mom a break.

  3. 3 richelle October 17, 2010 at 7:49 am

    the Lord taught me a difficult lesson one day about the importance of modeling… i don’t know what… to my oldest daughter. we often have “scam artists” approach expats in town with some sort of a story of why they need money… can you please help me sort of thing. many of these folks are quite well known and will often scout out a neighborhood for several days before picking a target.

    well, one day, one of these scammers stopped by, introducing herself as the grandmother across the street. my daughter was sure she remembered meeting and talking with her before, so she invited her up to the terrace and took her some water to drink before coming to tell me that the lady was there (which is what we’ve taught them to do). once i came out, the lady invited our family to join her for a tabaski feast the end of the week, chit chatted about nothing in particular for 15-20 minutes and then came to the point of her visit – she needed $ to pay her electrical bill and her husband was out of town – could i loan her some – her husband would be home in a few days and she’d repay us then, but didn’t want her electric cut in the meantime. by this time, i was starting to suspect something fishy and i didn’t recognize her from the neighborhood. however, my daughter was there listening… when i told the lady i needed to go and ask my husband (very, very cultural) and he confirmed my suspicion that she was one of the well-known scammers in town – he recognized her, my daughter had gone and collected her allowance and said she wanted to help the lady, too.

    at first, i was furious inside. the whole idea of being scammed was repulsive and the knowledge that they’d found our house meant we’d have story after story being thrown our way from then on. but the Lord immediately convicted me that this particular time, protecting the innocence of my daughter, her perception of the Africans we’d come to minister to, and her sincere desire to share what she had, unreservedly, was a lot more important than the “justice” or the “come-upance” of the scammer. so we threw in a little, too, and allowed rebekah to share with the lady. it infuriated me for a long time (i hate feeling like i’ve been “taken” and even though it was a conscious decision and she really hadn’t pulled the wool over my eyes… it bothered me for a long time (after she walked out of our concession, across the street to fiddle with the lock at the door where she said she lived, she glanced furitively back over her shoulder three or four times towards our gate. after a few minutes, she picked up her skirt and ran down the road and i’ve not seen her in the neighborhood since…_

    as i continued to struggle with that episode

  4. 4 richelle October 17, 2010 at 7:52 am

    (continued) oops – hit the wrong button on accident…

    as i continued to struggle with that whole scenario, the Lord showed me that I had to be generous with my “reputation” and the image i tried to create of myself in the eyes of others… that if I truly applied phil 2 in my life, i would act with integrity and obedience to the moment by moment leading of the Lord – and let Him worry about the opinions of others.

    and frankly, that is a lesson that i’m needing to relearn and reapply at this moment.

    so… thanks so much for your post. important and beautiful lesson.

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