Godly Giving

 

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“…be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble…”  1 Peter 3:8

Someone knocked on my front door the other morning. I had been writing, and the sound broke my train of thought. So as I got up to answer, I let out a small  huff of annoyance. It was my neighbor from across the street, with a present for me.

Ellen was the first person to visit us when we moved into our house, bearing a little cake and a friendly welcome. Over the years, we’ve chatted on the sidewalk and dropped into each other’s homes. I’ve prayed with her about cares and concerns she was burdened by, and shared my own as well. And I’ve come to know how sweet and giving she is.

This day, she was bringing me porridge. We’d talked recently about how healthy quinoa is, and I’d commented that I didn’t like the taste. Well, Ellen had tried making a batch of breakfast cereal out of it, and decided to make extra for me. She excitedly told me about adding pumpkin spices and just a touch of maple syrup, hoping that would help me enjoy it more. My impatience vanished as I thanked her for the sample, and then we spent a few minutes catching up.

I could call what Ellen did ‘a nice little thing,’ and it certainly was. But it felt really special to me for a couple of reasons. It’s always nice to be thought of, for sure. But this was an intentional, planned gift specifically for me. She had  listened to what I’d said in that quick conversation, remembered it later, and taken action to respond at an opportune moment.

I have seen Ellen do this again and again in our neighborhood, and I’m certain she her reach goes beyond. She isn’t flashy or bold, but sincere, and that’s why it has impact. To me, Ellen has captured the essence of godly giving. And by the way, the porridge tasted great!

The Power Of An Encouraging Word

IMG_20151003_123602You have the power to impact someone’s day for the better. It’s true – your words could speak into their life in powerful ways. Their mood, attitude, or even mindset could improve. They might feel more free to dream, or to take the next step toward achieving a goal.

Does that sound too dramatic? Maybe, but I can remember many times when a positive interaction turned my day around. I’ll bet you can, too. Wouldn’t you like to be that kind of person more often?

Take a look at this verse Paul wrote in the Book of  Philemon:

Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.”                                    

Wow – that’s quite a statement. We don’t know what Philemon actually said, but Paul clearly states what he did: he showed Paul love, he gave Paul joy and encouragement, and he refreshed Paul as well as others. Can you hear how grateful Paul is?

I wonder if Philemon even realized what a special thing he had done. I suspect he was just doing what came naturally and didn’t stop to think much about it. That’s how I’d like to approach the day – seeking out opportunities to minister.

Honestly, some mornings – this morning, in fact – I’d rather sit back and wait for someone else to offer me encouragement. It can be hard to reach beyond my neediness. But if I do, I always end up receiving my share of blessing. God is so good!

So how do we not only encourage, but refresh others like Philemon did? Here are some thoughts I had:

  • We can be good listeners first.

It’s been rightly called ‘The Ministry of Presence’. Giving our time and attention, to really hear what’s going on in someone’s life, makes them feel heard and acknowledged. That’s a gift in itself.

  • We can hold back on giving our advice.

Believe it or not, it’s better to simply nod your head in understanding at first than to jump into guidance. Though your ideas might be great, sharing them right away could very well pull them down instead of build them up.

  • We can remind them of God’s promises.

Scripture tells over and over about God’s goodness, faithfulness, power, and mercy. Hearing those promises stirs up hope to our hearts – and passing them forward can bring a new purpose to others.