Thursday, January 1, 2009

Generosity - The Big Give

by Tracy Nunes

I know what it’s like to give, then sit back proudly and give myself a pat on the back for how spiritual I am. I know what it’s like to forget my motivation for giving in the first place. This happened to me during the 15 years my family sponsored children through Compassion International, usually two at a time. We began with earnest intentions and enjoyed seeing the money give the children a chance to survive and the opportunity to know the Savior. We exchanged letters and sent Christmas gifts. After a while, I noticed that I thought about them most when I balanced my checkbook, and notated the automatic withdrawal from my account. We had their pictures on our wall, and guests to our home would often comment about them. It felt good, but deep inside I knew I had lost the heart of why I was doing it.

My heart was unsettled, and I asked the Lord to reveal whatever needed to be changed in me … I just wasn’t expecting there would be so much! My heart towards giving was not the “abundance” intended for me. My cup was overflowing alright but not with good things! God began by showing me scriptures that demonstrated how the Savior responded to the needs around Him. Jesus loved the poor, spoke to them, and performed miracles amongst them, more than any other group of people. But, His clear and resounding message was that there is a greater poverty than the material, there is a greater hunger than the rumble of stomachs, and there is a greater shelter than a roof over our heads – the shelter of the arms of Christ. Jesus never looked over or around the needs in front of Him, but He always saw them through the light of eternity.

When Mary poured the extravagantly expensive perfume over Jesus’ head in adoration, and in unknowing preparation for His burial, Judas protested that it was a waste and that the money could have been given to the poor. Jesus rebuked Judas saying, “Leave her alone. Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time. But you will not always have me.” (Mark 14:4-7 NIV) Mary honored Him and put Him first.

Besides showing me scripture, God answered my prayer by giving me the humbling opportunity to be on the receiving end of generosity. I was blessed by some unexpectedly needed help. Through these experiences, and others, I have learned that giving must be an overflow of God’s Spirit in my life, and not an outward attempt to appear spiritual. As I seek Him, God will give me the vision and heart for the people I am led to give to. He will show me how to make my life, heart, home and resources available to be used as He directs. Food, shelter, clothes and medical supplies must be given with the Hand of our Savior and with the goal of reaching their eternal souls through their earthly needs.

The call of the world and the demands of a daily schedule will always challenge these principles for me. I get frustrated with myself because I seem to need remedial instruction more often than I would like. There can sometimes be a Judas mentality lurking beneath the surface. There will always be something new to learn or a greater depth to reach in an area I thought was mastered. It will help me to maintain my focus if I remember to keep no account of what I have given to people, to expect nothing in return and to be as discreet as possible when giving.

Increasingly, the Lord reminded me to pray for the children we sponsor and to always remember that the blessing is in giving and in honoring the Lord, not in the recognition I receive for it. As I follow these principles I will not only fulfill the Great Commission but, as I obey His ways of giving, I will be blessed with a deeper walk with Him. When I give, Jesus will be loving people through me and they in turn will see Jesus and not Tracy.
Proverbs 31 Ministries is a proud partner of Compassion International. If God is leading your family into a deeper experience of ministering to the poor this year, consider sponsoring a child. You’ll have the opportunity to know your sponsored child through letters and photos, and will make an eternal difference in his or her life. Click here for more information: