I’ve always been a gift-giver. Just ask my husband. All year long I am on the lookout for the perfect gift for my family and friends. Something personal. Something that shows just how much I love and admire them. I carefully think about that person in particular. What would they most want? What would they use the most?
I think my love for gift-giving came from my mother. Each Christmas, we would spend hours making baskets of goodies for each member of the extended family. We never had much money, but we always made gift-giving a priority. To this day, I will sacrifice my own needs to provide the perfect gift for a wedding, a birthday, a new birth, or any other day of the year that seems like a good gift-giving day.
So why is it that I have such a hard time giving when it comes to building the kingdom of God?
The latestshows that the number of people that tithe is decreasing. And here comes a confession: I am among the group of non-tithers. Each month, when I sit down to pay the bills, the checks to charitable organizations are the hardest ones for me to write. They feel like luxury checks that I’m just not sure I can part with.
We’re bombarded with student loans, credit cards, student loans, mortgages, increasing utility prices … the list goes on and on. When our finances are stretched, it feels as though the world is crashing in around us. We feel crippled to make a difference when we’re not sure how we’re going to pay our bills.
We can read books on generosity, hear sermons on tithing, and make promises to do better, but in the end, it’s only through the act of giving that our perspective changes. When we give to those who need it most, we reach out a hand to show we care. We form a connection that wasn’t there before. Through the art of giving, relationships are created.
And those checks to charitable organizations become less of a luxury and more of a necessity.
A little over a year ago my husband and I sponsored our first Compassion child. Money was tight, but it had been on our hearts to reach out to someone who needed it most. When we began to budget around our sponsorship, we began to realize just how much extra we had. We would spend $50 going out to eat, when less than that would pay the monthly expenses for another child.
I will never forget the day we added up how much money we spent going through the tollbooth on our daily commutes.
$2 a day? That’s over $40 a month! We could sponsor another child with our toll money alone!
We found a cheaper apartment that was closer to work. And we sponsored a second child through Compassion. But perhaps the most important thing that happened in that conversation was this:
We shifted our priorities.
What we thought were necessities really became luxuries. We changed our lifestyles so that we could give more and spend less. And each day, when I think about the difference that our sponsorship is making, I don’t regret the decision one bit. Where I once wrote the checks out of obligation, I now write them out of joy. It is my favorite bill to pay each month.
No, I’m not a tither. But I’m working on it. And each time I give a little more I realize just how much I’ve been given.
Do you have a story about giving to share?