Three Things To Remember During This Giving Season
Our culture transitions quickly from Thanksgiving to Christmas giving. At one time, the Thanksgiving emphasis lasted all the way from the third Thursday until the end of November. The Christmas season began on December 1. During my growing up years, “Black Friday” entered the scene. Today, we’ve added “Cyber Monday” and “Giving Tuesday.” These three days kick-off the giving season.
If you are already feeling overwhelmed, consider three helpful principles. These truths help me maintain my joy throughout the Christmas season, whether I have much or little to give. I hope they will assist you as well.
- My greatest gift should go to the Lord’s work.
Several years ago, Cindy and I experienced Christmas stress. Our resources were small that year, but we felt an overwhelming obligation to buy presents. Our small bank account increased our frustration. The burden lifted when we remembered a simple, obvious fact: “It’s Jesus’ Birthday!” Since we are celebrating Jesus’ Birthday, our greatest gift should go to Him. When we prioritized this first principle, the rest of our giving fell into place. The pressure lifted.
The principle of giving our best to the Lord isn’t new. Cindy and I didn’t originate it. King David personified the principle no less than nine centuries before Jesus’ birth. David, along with all of Israel’s leaders and people, gave their best gifts to the Lord to bankroll the Temple’s future construction (1 Chron 29:1-9). This season, following their example, Cindy and I will give our greatest gifts to the Lord’s work.
- My giving can be done with joy and thanksgiving.
Israel’s people not only gave, they “rejoiced” to give. It is stated twice in the same verse (1 Chron 29:9). First Chronicles 29:1-9 describes willing, exorbitant, joyful giving. Next, David led the people in thanking the Lord for the privilege and resources to give (vs. 10-20). As they expressed joy, praise, and thanksgiving, David urged the people to “bless the LORD your God” (v. 20). So they did. It was a jubilant celebration (vs. 20-22).
Likewise, the Apostle Paul noted the happy result of generous, God-led giving. You will be “enriched in everything for all liberality,” and you will inspire “thanksgiving through us to God” (2 Cor 9:11). In other words, those who receive can joyfully praise God and give Him genuine thanks. But that’s not all. When we give, real ministry needs and personal needs are met. Then, both givers and receivers offer “many thanksgivings to God” (v. 12).
Cindy and I are attending the thanksgiving party this year. Why not join us? We can rejoice and praise the Lord for the opportunity to give.
- Since God owns everything, when I give, I am a conduit of God’s giving.
David humbly expressed this reality before Israel. “But who am I,” he said, “and who are my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly as this? For all things come from You, and of Your own we have given you” (v. 14). Do you sense the joy? When we give, we return to our Lord what He has given to us.
David continued, “O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have prepared to build You a house for Your holy name is from Your hand, and is all Your own” (v. 16). God is the source; we are the conduits.
I grappled with this truth several years ago, and I’m glad I did. It has revolutionized the way I think about giving, and about “stuff.” One wonderful day, I realized that I owned nothing; God owns everything. I’m a manger of “His stuff,” a trustee of the resources He entrusts to me.
When I understand ownership, giving isn’t a burdensome obligation. I seek the owner’s will for “His stuff,” then give accordingly. Obviously, I can’t take credit for what I give. Neither do I need to stress over what I give. I simply check with the owner and give His “stuff” as He leads.
Paul confirmed this truth, noting that God “supplies seed to the sower” (2 Cor 9:10). If I understand God’s absolute ownership, it frees me from the fear of giving His resources. I know His supply is limitless. Even if He leads me to give it all, He can and will supply all my needs. Philippians 4:19 is His promise to faithful givers.
One thing more: He’ll be pleased. Isn’t it wonderful? “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7).
Little Eden loves her dad and wants to give him a special Christmas present. She has no money, but she knows what to do. She goes to Dad’s closet, selects his favorite shirt, and takes it to her room. She does her best to wrap it in beautiful paper, and places it under the Christmas tree. She is excited as Dad opens it on Christmas morning. He laughs and hugs and kisses her. “Thank you,” he says, and he means it. Eden’s willingness to give, and her simple trust in his supply please him.
Likewise, our God is pleased when we freely give His resources with unwavering faith in His supply. These three truths have made Christmas less stressful and more enjoyable for me. As you grapple with giving, I believe they will help you rejoice throughout the giving season as well.
With Great Anticipation,
Dr. Mark H. Ballard