If You Knew, Would You Still Give?
"In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" Acts 20:35, NIV
In the South, we still handwrite, and mail thank you cards, usually in a matching envelope with a monogrammed seal and a seasonally appropriate stamp. Most of us Southern girls are raised to throw gratitude around like confetti.
But writing notes of thanks means I'm on the receiving end. What if I'm the one giving but without receiving any appreciation?
I'm not referring simply to gifting trinkets wrapped in shiny packages and receiving a note of thanks. What about volunteering my time and talents, and no one notices? Or when if I give someone money for needs and they waste it on frivolous things? Worse yet, what if I give a piece of my heart – my whole heart -- and the love is not reciprocated?
Several years ago, I gave money from my savings so a good friend could buy a used car. A few weeks later, I watched her drive away with our decade-long friendship in tow. No fight or indication led me to understand why our friendship ended. She was simply gone. And that's when the giver's remorse set in.
As I took the victim's stance, ruminating on the events that had unfolded – leaving me poorer and friendless – I felt a strong pull. God tugged on my heart, challenging me to be generous without conditions, just like He is generous with His blessings.
Have you been in this place, friend? A season of pouring out from your cup without anyone offering to fill yours? Maybe a simple thank you is all you are seeking. Perhaps, you wish your family would acknowledge some of the things you do for them. Sometimes you want to see that the recipient is a good steward of our gifts.
Maybe you feel taken for granted. Let's call it sacrificial burnout.
In Paul's final words in his farewell speech to the elders of Ephesus in Acts 20:35, he credits Jesus with saying, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." I'm sure you have heard these words before, but did you know the word "blessed" is twofold here?
We are to inherit blessings from the Lord in our heavenly home when our motives are pure and straight from the heart, and we are to consider ourselves blessed to be the giver. We are in a position to bless others with our blessings from the Lord. We are to be generous with our time, resources, and heart and not grow weary in doing so.
If you read the entire passage of Acts 20, Paul is saying to the elders, "Look at my life. This is what sacrifice and glory look like." He's not speaking pridefully but as an example for ministry – for any disciple to learn. We must meet the spiritual and physical needs of the ones in need. And from a place of humility – from a foot washing position.
Sometimes I question my motives.
If I knew the outcome, would I still give? Would I give my time, my money, and my heart?
If the answer is "no," I need to allow God to work on softening my heart.
Oh man, I'm a work in progress! I probably will be until the day I reach the pearly gates. But I am slowly learning what unconditional giving and loving look like daily. Jesus is the perfect model of this.
I'm working hard not to concern myself with the outcome of the generosity but instead trust God. I'm trying to freely give just as Jesus freely gives to me and let Him handle the outcome.
I'm certainly not the best teacher or example of generosity. But friend, I've learned if God is present in our giving and our giving is done to glorify Him, we have all of the gratitude and reward we need.