By Miriam Rossow
It is that time of year when we hear about giving and sharing out of our abundance. In the last week I have heard 2 sermons from 2 different churches and a confirmation class on this topic. I have seen/heard the Salvation Army donation gatherers out for the season which I found out officially starts on Veterans Day every year!
Servant events like Operation Christmas Child and other wonderful organizations are gearing up for the season of thanksgiving and giving! It can become overwhelming, make you feel guilty, and frankly I often get turned off to giving when so many people and organizations begin asking for something.
The focus of our confirmation class last week was God through Jesus has paid all our debts by dying and rising. Now we live in that freedom. Beyond that we have been placed on this earth as caretakers of the creation. All creation is God’s and He has put us here to take care of it and manage the gifts He gives us.
I have always said everything is a gift from God. I have always known that all I have is God’s and can be given and taken away as He sees fit. I am not sure I have always lived this way.
I often don’t want to give to an organization or person if I am unsure of where or how the money will be used. I tend to give my time to things that I find important or feel will have the best impact on my mission. This is not necessarily wrong, however, if I can step back and actually view everything as God’s then what does it really matter if I think the money is used incorrectly? Isn’t God big enough to handle the situation?
I am not sure I have always lived this way.
When you look at parable of the talents in Matthew 25 . You see a master give 3 servants bags of gold, according to their ability and tell them to take care of it while he is gone. When the master comes back two of the servants have done well, while the 3rd is called lazy as he has only hidden the money and returned the same amount to the master. The master is very harsh with this last servant. The servant tells us he was scared of the master and did not want to manage the money incorrectly and lose it all for him.
Does this mean that I am not to worry about the money or gifts and how they are handled? I don’t want to be the third servant who is lazy and scared and I don’t want to lose what the master has given me. He surely wants us to manage the gifts well so as not to lose them?
In the sermon I heard we were encouraged to look at the master’s heart. It is one of love. He has given according to abilities and wants and desires us to be active and use them. He is not a lazy master and does not call us to be lazy. He calls us to join Him in sharing His heart, His love, His forgiveness, and His gifts.
He calls us to join Him in sharing His heart, His love, His forgiveness, and His gifts.
And if all I have is His then I can manage with care, but not worry. I can know that as I share His gifts with others; both time, talent, and money, He will return them to me. He will take care of me and my family and I do not have to worry. I can follow His lead in sharing with all those around me and know that as in the past He will provide.
I also recently had to look at my heart of giving. I recently signed up for giving online and have enjoyed knowing that I am giving back to God right off the top. However, there is no thought to this giving anymore.
I don’t put anything in the offering plate on Sunday. And frankly there is some guilt that I look like a non-giver to the rest of the congregation. Bigger than how I look is the fact that I don’t think about or acknowledge the gifts God gives me and that everything belongs to Him. I don’t take the time to acknowledge to God and myself that all I have is a gift and that it is through His grace that I have everything.
This idea of all that I have is not just money, but goes into house, cars, clothes, food, job, and even my family. So in the giving of my money I am acknowledging God’s control and power over my life. I am saying in a tangible way that everything is His and I am to my abilities managing all He has given me.
So in the giving of my money I am acknowledging God’s control and power over my life.
I don’t have to feel guilty. I can make decisions to support or not support a person or organization based on how God is leading me and in the knowledge that He has power and grace to cover my mistakes. I do not have to feel guilt or get mad if something is not used the way I feel it should be managed as I am not the owner of anything. I live in the freedom of grace and forgiveness and will surely not make all the best choices. As I live in grace I can share that with others as well.
As I live in grace I can share that with others as well.
I would like to find a way to continue to grow in my generosity and reliance on God’s provision for me. Maybe as a family we will decide to support an orphan overseas, maybe we will choose to buy an animal for a family who can use it for milk, money, and as a ‘pet’.
Maybe we will choose to serve in a homeless shelter as a family. Maybe on Sunday’s I will put a prayer of submission and thanksgiving in the offering plate. I want my children to know that God provides and calls us to know His heart and share that heart and all He has given us to manage with others to the best of our abilities!
If you are interested in giving online click here or the link above in the article. If you are interested in giving back to your community December 2nd is Giving Tuesday. There are lots of organizations you can donate to and support on this day! Check out this article by Matt Hein for more information about Giving Tuesday.
We will celebrate this season of gratitude at our all site Thanksgiving Eve worship service on Wednesday, November 26, 7 p.m. at St. Luke-Ann Arbor. Please join us!