He did it again. And, He has done it again and again for our entire married life. Each time it happens I am left in awe. Each instance leaves me amazed. Each unexpected occurrence humbles me to meaningful gratitude and worship. Each gift reminds me that He is God, our Provider. This time I stood speechless as I stared at what sat before me. This time my friends, I just simply have to brag on God.
Over the years God has unexpectedly blessed our family in many and various ways. Some of these include clothing for our boys, 1/2 beef, elk, fresh fish, money for diapers, beds, upright freezer, refrigerator, 1st and 2nd camcorders, television, BBQ gas grill, riding lawn mower, push mower, weed eater, home interior items, 1st and 2nd laptop, desktop computer, printers, digital camera, ipod, above ground pool, swing set, cash, vacuum, van and a car (now those two are a story in and of themselves! Go God!).
By sharing some of these examples with you please don't think my husband doesn't receive fair compensation as a Pastor. The Lord does provide through his income, but like many families living on one source, and having three boys who eat like horses, we have had to be frugal in an effort to maintain God's desire for our family.
We knew before marriage God called us both to serve in ministry. In order for me to be available to do ministry we try to maintain an honoring budget to the Lord. While I haven't received a paycheck for 16 years, someday I might. We just know we need to be obedient to what God has asked of us for this season.
Being frugal has certainly made a distinction in our lives for having needs versus wants. He expects us to be disciplined with our budget and maintain specific boundaries with what He entrusts to us. This means we have said "no" to a lot of things in order to say "yes" to what we believe is God's direction for our lives. We strive to trust in the Lord's provision for our family. Even still, we have our little secret wish list. Periodically the Lord has blessed and provided us with these things too.
This past Saturday was one of those times. A gentleman asked my husband if he knew of anyone who needed a couch and love seat that were five years old and gently used. My husband thought, Yeah! You're looking at him! Did I mention I have three monkey...I mean, boys? The sectional we had served its purpose. However, after ten years it was very worn and several cushions had split open at the seam. We accepted this man's offer. My husband picked them up, brought them home and unloaded them.
As I walked downstairs to investigate our newest blessing, I was speechless. I just stood there and stared. I could not believe it. Sitting before me were gently used, BEAUTIFUL tan leather couch and love seat set. Unbelievable! We have never had such nice furniture. (And, this has always been on our little secret wish list.)
We have been the recipient on several occasions. The day after this happened another unexpected blessing occurred when a gentleman offered to pay for some ministry material for me. Two weeks ago another family blessed us with a new vacuum out of the blue. Crazy, I know.
We have also been the giver at other times. Your examples may be different than ours, but I'm sure you have experienced both as well. One thing is certain, regardless of each of our incomes, God is the Provider.
If we acknowledge that He is our Provider, how we view our wealth, possessions and giving will be radically different than the world's outlook. Selfish versus self-less. Viewing our things/income as "mine" will lead to a closed fist of greed. A biblical view means we believe that everything we have comes from God. In addition, we accept that we are the caretakers of what He has entrusted to us. Living with this mindset enables us to extend an open hand of blessing toward others.
Seeing the needs of people requires a heart of compassion that compels a response. Compassion is born from a heart that loves others as God intended. Seeing beyond ourselves means we have to work past our natural tendency to be selfish.
Working past selfishness toward selflessness will direct us to take action. We act because we desire to please God. To simply bless someone or try to make life a little easier for another becomes a natural response when we operate selflessly. In so doing, we bring glory to Him and joy to the giver. It also reflects the kind of love God desires for us to have towards others. If we fail to see and meet the needs of people we miss growth opportunities in our relationship with God.
Our passage in 1 Timothy 6:17-19 is a road map for understanding riches and generosity. "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life."
Paul delivers several commands and instructions to believers in this passage. Here are a few items I notice:
- How not to act because of riches: Don't be arrogant.
- How we are to view our wealth: Don't put our hope in wealth.
- Where are we to put our hope: Put our hope in God not riches.
- Who is the Giver: God richly provides us with everything.
- What we are to do with our riches: Be rich in good deeds, generous and willing to share.
- Result if we do so: Lay up treasure for ourselves for the coming age.
This passage helps us understand God's desire regarding our wealth. Internalizing these truths should inspire us to take inventory of our current thought processes and evaluate where we are in our effort to see the needs of others and bless accordingly. Loving others as God intends is an expression of our faith. Needs vary. The point is to do what we can to meet the needs of others to the glory of God. In time and with obedience this should become our natural response.
It's time to take action. Ultimately all things come from God and He expects us to be an extension of His hand. Go! See beyond yourself, desire to please Him, extend a hand of blessing toward others and experience the growth God will cause in your heart when you step forward.
Ask the Lord to soften your heart to needs of those around you. (Don't forget those under your own roof :) ).
Ask the Lord to reveal to you an individual or family this week who may be in need. Seek how He would like to use you to fulfill this need.
Expect the Lord to show you someone who needs an unexpected blessing just to brighten their week. When He does show you, be ready to take action. (It could be a meal, flowers, fresh bread/cookies, card, babysit, gift certificate to movies/dinner, pedicure, haircut etc.)
When do you find it difficult to take action in helping and blessing others? How can you better develop a heart of compassion?
What is the difference between selfishness and selflessness?
Heart Changing Word:
Genesis 22:14 (NIV) "So, Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, 'On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided."
Psalm 68:10 "Your people settled in it, and from your bounty, O God, you provided for the poor."
Proverbs 11:25 "A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed."
Ezekiel 18:5 & 7 "A righteous man does not oppress anyone. He does not commit robbery but gives his food to the hungry and provides clothing for the naked."
Acts 2:44-45 "All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need."
Philippians 4:19 "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus."
1 Timothy 5:8 "If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."
Titus 3:14 "Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives."
James 1:27 "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
James 2:16-17 "If one of you says to him, 'Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."
Copyright 2011 by Hester Christensen. All rights reserved.