From the LYWB.com Team: We know Thanksgiving is technically over, but we are to practice giving thanks all year long. So grab a turkey sandwich, and pull up a chair. We dragged one of our favorite posts up from the archives just for you. It’s chock full of ideas for how to live generously in response to giving thanks.
A couple of years ago around my grandparents’ table on Thanksgiving Day, we were all handed little envelopes. Taped to the outside of each envelope was a typed message, and inside each envelope was tucked a ten-dollar bill. My grandparents were up to something new, and we were curious. The short message instructed us to use the money to bless another person sometime during the Christmas season. And on Christmas Day, we were going to “report” how we used the money. Cute idea, I thought. But I didn’t fully realize how precious, how kingdom-impacting those little envelopes would be.
I’m amazed at the power of the gospel to create a thankfulness in our hearts that springs up and bubbles over into generosity.
We’ve done “the envelope thing” for a couple years. And we share stories about the ways God placed a burden on our hearts to show generosity to different
people in different situations. For some, it was a hurting family in our church. For another, it was a stranger in the check-out line at the grocery store who didn’t have enough cash to pay their bill. My cousins shared how they bought journals and pens for girls looking for someone to be their friend.
And tears well up in my eyes because I’m so thankful for grandparents who challenged us to give. I’m so thankful for the Holy Spirit who prompts us to move out of our comfort zones in order to be a comfort to someone else. I’m amazed at the power of the gospel to create a thankfulness in our hearts that springs up and bubbles over into generosity.
Thank More. Give More.
When we’re Spirit-filled people who are loving Jesus more every day, when we gaze at the mighty cross, when we worship the One who paid our debt, we become thankful people. Our hearts overflow with gratitude—an evidence of His grace at work in us—and gratitude turns into generosity.
Thankful people are people who want to give. One writer put it this way:
One of the effects of the gospel going deeper into our souls is that it frees our fingers to loosen their grasp on our goods. Generosity is one of the great evidences of truly being a Christian.
It’s a formula only God could create: He saves us from a debt we could never repay. By His grace we are brought to thankfulness for His grace. And so we’re driven to share His grace in our lives by showing His grace to others.
Gospel grace. I want to be full of it. Full of gratitude and generosity.
A Generous Invitation
As we head into the Christmas season, I don’t want to only be full of my Grammy’s Swedish gingerbread. I want to be full of the love and grace of Christ that compels me to show generosity to others. I love the Thanksgiving envelope project because it prompts me to get intentional in my giving. I’m reminded to think about needs, to pray and consider where the Spirit would have me reach out to share Christ. I think about giving with joy and excitement. And I’m inviting you to join me.
Thankful people are people who want to give.
Let’s be intentional in generosity this Christmas season. Not just within our own families, but within our churches, our schools, and our communities.
Let’s get creative, and let’s ask the Holy Spirit to challenge our hearts to be truly cheerful in our giving.
First, let’s let God’s Word prepare our hearts.
“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive'” (Acts 20:35).
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? (1 John 3:17).
Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7).
And now let’s get practical.
How can you show Christ’s love and generosity in the coming weeks before Christmas? I’ve got a few ideas. Thirty ideas, actually.
- Participate in the “Thanksgiving envelope thing.” Take ten dollars, and use it in a way to bless someone. (If you do this, I so want to hear from
you! Leave a comment, pretty please.)
- Buy groceries, and donate them to a local food pantry.
- Know a young mom with toddlers? Offer to take her kids out for a play date.
- Volunteer at a local homeless shelter or food pantry.
- Volunteer your time and creativity to help with your church’s Christmas program.
- Scrounge up all the change you can find, and donate it to any of these organizations: Compassionate Hope, His Little Feet, Tiny Hands International, The Salvation Army, or another faithful organization that helps the helpless.
- When you go through the Starbucks drive-thru, pay for the order of the person behind you.
- Organize a group of your friends to go caroling at a local nursing home.
- Help your mom write addresses as you send your family’s Christmas cards.
- Offer to babysit for a couple with kids in your church.
- Bake cookies for your neighbors and include handwritten notes.
- Are there still leaves on the ground in your neighborhood? Rake and run.
- Buy a couple of rolls of wrapping paper, some tape, and some bows, and give them as an anonymous gift to a family in need.
- Ever wanted to be a bell ringer? Find out where you can volunteer! (I did this once. I think it was 11 degrees, but I got to smile and meet people
and say “Merry Christmas!”)
- Offer to clean an elderly couple’s house. Or better yet, offer to spend time with them!
- Ask a young mom if you can help her wrap gifts for her children.
- Leave a surprise gift basket on someone’s door. Fill it with baked goods, hot chocolate mix, a pumpkin candle. The sky’s the limit.
- Offer to help your neighbors hang Christmas lights.
- Make tins full of Christmas candy, and send them to your unsaved family members. Include a personal note that shares the gospel.
- Do you live far from your grandparents? Call them. Send them a long letter.
- Are you at college? Leave doughnuts and coffee in someone’s dorm room.
- Buy and wrap a special gift for one of your teachers. Tell them why you appreciate them.
- Go to your friend’s Christmas choir concert. Bring her flowers, and take her out for coffee afterward.
- Offer to run to the grocery store for your mom. Bonus: Offer to make dinner.
- Check with your school’s office, and leave baked goods for the janitorial staff.
- Take your siblings out for a dinner date—your treat.
- Buy mittens, gloves, and scarves for a friend in need.
- Think about a gift you’d put on your own list. Then go buy it, and gift it to a classmate at school.
- Got snow? Shovel your neighbors’ driveways for free.
- Pray about how much the Lord would have you place in the offering plate as a special tithe.
What would you add to my list? If you’re on board, leave me a comment to let me know! Let’s be cheerful, gospel-filled givers!