Giving is a lifestyle.

“For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.'” Deuteronomy 15:11

“Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38

I’ve always felt that gratitude and giving go hand-in-hand. If you are not thankful for anything, you do not understand need. But when you are thankful in everything, you recognize the needs of others.

Both of these verses are so full of meaning, either one is worth pondering for a while. When I read the first one, I wondered why there was a special note that there will never cease to be poor in the land. Perhaps we forget that sometimes and focus so much on what we’ve already done that we forget what else is needed. We, as humans, are excellent at keeping track of our own accomplishments. Any of us, at any moment, could provide a complete list of all the charitable projects or donations we’ve made over the past year or so. Partly this is because giving is satisfying, which is a good thing. But partly it is because we just like to be proud of ourselves. No matter how much fundraising or volunteering a person does, there will never cease to be poor and any follower of God must rise to the occasion and give until his very last. Don’t stop and think that it isn’t worth it because it doesn’t matter to the world at large. It matters to the person in need.

“No one ever became poor by giving,” said Anne Frank.

For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.

I have never heard a blessing that sounded so much like a warning. Things are simple in God’s economy: giving reaps blessing. Withholding does not.

At the same time, this is not a call to spend beyond your means, empty your bank account on a whim, or say “yes” to everything simply because you like to. Giving is not about having a lot of excess money. Giving is a lifestyle.  We do not give to get rid of the extra, we give because it is right. Think of the widow who came to the temple in Jerusalem with her penny and offered it to the Lord in the face of the wealthy aristocrats, who gave not of their hearts but of their spare change. She had so little but gave so much.

Gifts can take many forms: time, energy, encouragement, a listening ear, trust, patience, perspective, advice. Each person has something to give, and the ability to give it. Even the smallest things can be given with the greatest love.

“For it is in giving that we receive.” — St. Francis of Assisi

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.” –Mother Teresa

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