While staring at the crumpled paper that littered our living room floor—leftovers from unwrapped Christmas gifts—I winced to consider what others were doing at that moment. As my part of Texas celebrated its first white Christmas in 80 years, I wondered how many others were struggling in the extra-cold weather to keep their houses warm. Considering the numbers I’d seen lining in front of our local food kitchen, it wasn’t far-fetched to guess that some nearby were suffering.
If I were completely honest, I’d tell you that I’m not in the habit of thinking very often about the needy. And even if I do acknowledge those around me, I normally limit myself to daydreaming. I think, "One day, once I finish school and have money to spend, I’ll give to an orphanage or sponsor a child. Hey, if I get enough money, I’ll sponsor as many kids as I can!" The more I imagine, the more the idea of giving becomes a part of my distant, fantasy future.
Less often do I think of giving in terms like "here" and "now."
In 2 Corinthians, the apostle Paul talks about the Macedonian believers who, in "their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty," offered "a wealth of generosity." Even though they were suffering themselves, the Macedonians gave above and beyond the call of duty. They didn’t wait until they were in a "financially secure" situation or until they could give out of their abundance. What they offered came from sacrificial, utterly generous hearts.
We also find that, even though the Macedonians might have been considered impulsive at the time, their giving was an act of wisdom. As Randy Alcorn pointed out in his book The Treasure Principle, "When the Lord returns, what will happen to all the money sitting in bank accounts, retirement programs, estates, and foundations? It will burn like wood, hay, and straw, when it could have been given in exchange for gold, silver, and precious stones. Money that could have been used to feed the hungry and fulfill the great commission will go up in smoke."
That’s a convicting thought for people like me, who find it easier to drop a few dollars at Starbucks than into a Salvation Army bucket. Buying a latte or another book seems to be no big deal—until I consider how else it could be spent.
Just think …
- $7.77 (roughly the price of one large latte and a pastry) can provide clean drinking water for one person in India for 30 years. (SowerofSeeds.org)
- $11 (the price of a movie ticket) can buy a rooster and hen for a needy family overseas. (Gospelforasia.org)
- $50 can provide a loan to help a needy family to start their own business. (Worldvision.org)
- And … $1 can purchase a burger for the homeless woman on the corner.
With this is mind, I’m asking myself, in what ways can I change my spending habits in order that I may give more? In what areas am I holding back from giving to God? How can I glorify God with my personal finances?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Have you ever held a fundraiser for a worthwhile cause? Share your fundraising ideas! And do you have suggestions for other ways to serve the community? Let’s pool our thoughts and brainstorm together.