Obedient Generosity

I left the house early on purpose. I wanted to have enough time to go through the outrageously long Chic Fila drive-thru before I took the kids to preschool. My timing was perfect. I made it to the window and got breakfast in enough time for no one to be late. We pulled out of the Chic-Fila parking lot and onto the road and was immediately halted by a red light. I remember thinking the red light was actually a convenience. I could unwrap my breakfast and start chowing down. Until I looked to my right and saw a homeless man holding a sign. It said: ANY HELP APPRECIATED.

That’s when I felt it. I felt the nudge and knew God wanted me to give up my breakfast. I only paid attention to that nudge for 1 second before the light turned green, and I felt relief. An excuse, really. Maybe God didn’t really want me to give up my breakfast. The light turned green, after all.

Fast forward to a month later, the scenario much the same. I left the house early enough to stop through my beloved Chic Fila in order to get a coffee. While on my way, I also realized I forgot to eat breakfast, nor did I pack myself a lunch for work. I figured I could buy myself a light breakfast, and that would hold me over until I got home from work. However, I knew if I ate nothing at all I would feel sick. You see, this happens to me. It hits me hard. When my stomach becomes empty, I get nauseous and feel as though I could vomit.  So I bought a parfait and coffee.

We pulled out of the Chic Fila parking lot and onto the road and was immediately stopped by the same red light. And guess who was to my right? The same homeless man with the same sign.

Once again, I felt the nudge. It so happens, that recently my prayer has been that I would be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. That I would feel and recognize His quiet whisper so that I may be aligned with His wisdom and walk in obedience. I knew He heard my prayer. I knew that ignoring Him would be disobedient. And I heard only one thing: You don’t know what it is like to be hungry. For I was hungry and you gave me food.  Before I had time to reason why I shouldn’t give it away, I rolled down my window.

“Sir, are you hungry?” I asked

“Well, yea, kind of,” He replies.

“Here you go.” I handed him the Chic Fila bag.

The light turned green and off I went. I was in tears.

Seriously God? He was KIND OF hungry. I was more hungry than he!  Does that man realize he just took my breakfast? I’m going to feel sick all day because he took my food and was KIND OF hungry.

Why did it hurt so much to give so little? Then it hit me. It’s not about that man being grateful. It’s not about the fact that he was “kind of” hungry. It’s not about the fact that it was only yogurt. It was to teach me obedience, and how to truly be generous. That they are directly related. As believers in Jesus, we are commanded to be generous. Not just with money, but all possessions, our time, and our resources. Generosity is suppose to hurt. It doesn’t matter how much or how little the quantity, but rather the glorification of the One who gives ALL good things.

Obedience to His wisdom is the path to righteousness, and to know that if we pursue righteousness we will be fulfilled. FULFILLED!  The pursuit of righteousness is gained through the obedience of His word.

Is it truly generous to give away something I don’t really care about anyways? If generosity is a command, isn’t it safe to presume that obedience is meant to further our sanctification and make us more like Christ?- who gave me everything I have?

When preparing to have a play date at my house, I give my 3 year-old a pep talk…because if you have ever been around a 3 year-old, you understand how sharing can be a little difficult. Our pep talk usually goes a little something like this:

Me: Who has given us everything we have?

Addie: Jesus

Me: And why has He given us our things?

Addie: (She is suppose to say…) So we can bless and serve others with them.

Isn’t it so easy to tell a 3 year-old why they should give away their things, when we have so much trouble doing the same?

While I was fighting through the tears of giving away my food and trying to tell God exactly how bad that hurt (which duh! He knew already!), Addie decides to inquire about the interaction.

Addie asks: “Mommy, what did you do?

Me: “I gave that man my food.”

Addie: “Why?”

Me: “Because he was hungry, and Jesus tells us that when someone is hungry, we should feed them.”

Addie: “I’m hungry”

Well. She’s always hungry. I know that she does not yet understand the weightiness of the commands of Jesus, but I believe it starts with me being the example first. The next generation needs to be people that love well, give well, serve well, and obey Jesus well, and they have to see it lived out.

Did my girl see the struggle it was for me to give? I don’t know. Maybe she did, maybe she didn’t.  We are told to be cheerful givers, so let’s be honest… I was not cheerful about it. I honestly did not want to do it. Does that mean I shouldn’t give if I’m not cheerful about it? No! Generosity is a heart posture, and I believe the more I am obedient with the “giving” part, then He will sanctify me- which means He will make me cheerful! Honestly, it’s easy to think that I am a cheerful giver when giving is easy. It’s when the giving hurts, that I believe, measures the true cheerfulness of our heart.

As small and insignificant as giving away a yogurt may seem, it was an act that taught me more about listening to His whispers and acting in obedience to His commands.

I have a warm bed to sleep in at night. I have food filling my cabinets. I have drawers overflowing with clothes. I have a closet dedicated only to coats. I have shoes for every season and occasion. I get to think about how I want to decorate my home. I have a God who accepted me when I had no where else to go. I have a God who lavishes love upon me every moment. I have a God who is preparing a forever home for me. I have a God that doesn’t promise safety when you follow Him, so we have to ask, if we choose obedience, we are choosing to be with Him. Not comfort. Not safety. Not popularity.

Why spend my last few years on earth holding so tightly to that which I cannot keep then to have the opportunity to lavish all that I have been given onto others?

All that to say…refugees are welcome here.

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, Lord when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I was to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” Matthew 25: 23-40

 

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