Wow, it is definitely that time of year where life gets crazy! Hence, I haven’t posted in a minute. BUT, here I am with a message that’s been on my heart for a week or so that I can’t wait to share with you all.
It is FINALLY the most wonderful and joyful time of the year. The holidays are in full swing and Christmas is right around the corner. If you’re like me, it is SO much fun to shop for presents for loved ones and get involved in the holiday events. Christmas lights and parades are my favorites. Christmas cards are in the works. Buying Christmas jammies and Santa pictures with the pup are officially checked off of the list.
With this time of year, a very specific action is taken. The action of giving. The action of putting yourself on the back burner to bring joy to others. The action of putting someone else’s needs or wants before yours. The action of spreading love. An action that makes God smile from ear to ear.
Luke 6:38 Give and it will be given to you.
Giving is not at all about the “it will be given to you” part of this verse. We shouldn’t do it so we can get something out of it. But giving genuinely from the heart because God calls us to do so is something that He rewards us for. God doesn’t say “Give no matter what your motives are and I’ll give you a million bucks”. He wants us to give with a gracious and loving heart, and in turn He might surprise you with something you weren’t expecting.
Some of you might be thinking “Well, I don’t have enough money or extra time to give to anyone else right now, so this doesn’t apply”. But I’m here to tell you you are absolutely wrong. As a college kid who basically lives off of the land some weeks, my eyes have been opened and I have been blessed in ways I never used to understand or think were possible. I have learned that me “not being able to give” is often just a selfish excuse to buy something unnecessary or waste time.
I lost my wallet a couple of months ago. I had no idea how it happened because I am not usually an irresponsible person. I called places I thought it could be. I searched everywhere. I was frustrated, stressed, and angry. In the midst of ordering and cancelling credit cards, I withdrew some cash so I could have money to move around. I kept checking my bank accounts just in case (even though I had already cancelled my cards). About two weeks went by before I got my first new credit card. After I called to activate it I had a thought. Within that two week span, I had literally spent the bare minimum because it was a hassle to go to the bank and get money. I had nearly the same amount of money I had in my bank account before I lost my old card and got the new card. And in that moment, I realized how much “extra” money I really do have. Money I could be spending on so many other things or people rather than my petty ice cream runs. God gave me a little wake up call. And about two weeks after that, I got a call saying my wallet was found.
Call it coincidence, I call it a lesson.
As a young adult, God is showing me how to trust Him with my money. Multiple times he has convicted me to give tithing at church. My first thought is ALWAYS “God, are you sure?” “This $20 is literally grocery money” “I cannot afford to just give this away, I’m in college”. And every single time He reminds me that He is the source of my finances and everything will be okay. So, I give.
Recently, I spent more money than I should have on Christmas presents. I’ve been a little bit worried about it but my heart goes crazy for gift giving so I’ve been sucking it up and living with extra little amounts. I was at church this past Sunday, and the pastor was talking about picking a tag with a child on it off of the Christmas tree in the lobby and again I felt the desire to participate. I kid you not when I say I am scraping the bare minimum right now, but I obeyed because God provides. On my desk sits a beautiful gift for a 16-year girl I will never meet.
I’ve had many people say something along the lines of, “You’re in college, you shouldn’t be doing that. You need to spend that money on necessities.” And for a brief second, I think about their words and then I remember who is the one supplying the income in the first place. Every single thing we are given comes from God. There is no luck or accidents. He gives what He gives. So, if He calls us to give and specifically convicts us to give in certain moments, why wouldn’t we?
Luke 6:38 Give and it will be given to you.
I’m emphasizing this verse again. He will take care of you. Even in the moments when you feel like you don’t have anything to give. Whether it’s time, money, or gifts; He will provide. He always provides.
I listen to messages from the app “Chip Ingram” almost every day. And one specific sermon caught my attention with this story. I don’t remember it word for word but it went something like this:
One man and his wife gave about 10% of their annual income for tithing. One day the man asked his wife if they could try giving one more percent and see if they could afford it. They did, and they were completely fine financially. So, the man asked his wife the next year, what if we give one more percent this year? Again, the family did and did not even notice the extra percent gone. To sum up, at the end of the man’s life he was giving 90% of his annual income for tithing. Each year he gave more, his income increased to compensate (hmm, coincidence I think not). Towards the end of his life he was still making enough money to give 90% of his money and still have all of his wants and needs met.
Now let me finish by telling you how I have been blessed. The reason I share this is so you can see how big and powerful God really is when your heart is open to giving. The biggest blessing I have received, entirely by the grace of God, is in the spring I will be graduating 100% debt free. Tuition has come out of my pocket, through completely random scholarships I didn’t know I qualified for, from a big scholarship I was granted in high school, and through financial aid with amounts that varied from a couple of hundred dollars one year to a couple of thousand dollars other years. There is no other explanation besides putting my trust in Him throughout the process. I don’t think a lot of students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree can say they graduated with zero debt (unless they have parents who can graciously afford to pay for it). I’m not saying this will happen to you, I’m just saying that He controls our finances more than we think and wants us to be willing to give from the heart as much as we are to receive.
Give from your heart. Give because you want to. Give when you don’t think you can. Give out of love. Give with the right intentions and He will recognize you. The gift of giving is a beautiful thing we celebrate this time of year. I hope this inspires you to think about where you could be giving a little more to someone who maybe needs it more than you. Happy Giving Season!