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The Beauty of Giving

I grew up in a family that always tithed, that is to say that my folks were regular and committed givers at church.  When I started getting allowance, I tithed too.  If there was a building fund or a need for youth camp scholarships, we found ways to pitch in a little extra.  I was lucky enough to marry a man who also tithed, so there wasn't a second thought about giving, even when we were living on little more than love as newlyweds.  I share all of that with you to say that I was well into adulthood before I really gave much thought to the topic of giving.

My girls were still small and we had been running errands when we met a man in the Target parking lot.  I saw him making his way toward us and, I have to admit, that my first thought was to get the girls inside before he could reach our car.  Wrangling two strong-willed children, however, was not easy and neither was in the car before the gentleman was by my side.  He was obviously homeless, carrying a light blue sleeping bag and wearing a tattered green coat.  In a soft and gentle voice, he asked if I had any money.  I said I would see what I had if he would wait while I got the kids into the car, and he stepped back to leave room while I did.

I knew I didn't have any cash in my purse, but after I got the girls buckled into the back seat, I leaned into the car to check the ash tray for loose bills and spare change.  There were no bills this time, but I could see that there was still probably at least five dollars in change, so I grabbed it all.  Somewhat embarrassed, I brought this pile of coins to the man and apologized saying, "it isn't pretty, but it is all I have."  As I poured the change into his hands, the gentleman said, "it is beautiful to me."  I cannot really explain it, but in that moment, something changed within me.

I attribute the change to the work of the Holy Spirit who used that moment with a homeless gentleman to break into my heart and mind.  I finally began to understand that giving is not just about the duty of tithing, it is not like paying the bills or doing your taxes.  Even though I knew it was not meant to be a cold and detached act, that instead it was meant to come from the heart, until that day it had never occurred to me that giving could be beautiful.  It was a revelation at the time and is still an amazing grace: giving can be beautiful.  Sometimes we get to experience beauty in the act of giving, sometimes in the benefit of receiving, but financial giving is beautiful.

There are literally thousands of scriptures about money and giving throughout the Bible.  We are undoubtedly called to give, both in regular tithes and in extra offerings, regardless of how much money we have in the bank.  I think there are so many passages because we need the instruction, the encouragement, and the reminder again and again as our own finances and faith change over time.  Below are a few passages that have resonated with me in different seasons of life.  I encourage you to click through and read them, inviting God to speak directly to your circumstance today.
  • The Widow's Offering (Luke 21:1-4)
  • The Cheerful Giver (2 Corinthians 9:6-8)
  • What I Do Have I Give You (Acts 3:1-10)
  • Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.  Proverbs 19:17
  • And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.  Hebrews 13:16

Finally, I leave you with this proverb that seems to hint at my own experience with that homeless gentleman all those years ago: “A gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great.”  (Proverbs 18:16)  Giving brought me closer to God himself, and that is what makes it even more beautiful.

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