Tubs of homemade pork tamales made by a Kekchi village to feed us, Esfuerzo II, Peten, Guatemala

You can afford generosity in God’s name

Stingy people aren’t much fun to hang around. If you don’t know any stingy people, count yourself fortunate. They’re exhausting.

I am fortunate to know many, many generous people, but that doesn’t mean I’m surrounded by wealthy folks. Whether you are stingy or generous, it has nothing to do with how much money you have.

Tubs of homemade pork tamales made by a Kekchi village to feed us, Esfuerzo II, Peten, Guatemala

Tubs of homemade pork tamales made by a Kekchi village to feed us, Esfuerzo II, Peten, Guatemala

Today’s verses are Matthew 25:37-40.

“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

Some of the most generous people I’ve ever known haven’t been wealthy, at least by what the world would call wealthy. I’ve known some who invited me over for dinner, when they didn’t know where their next meal would come from. I’ve known others who relied on God’s provision from paycheck to paycheck in order to feed their families, but they never hesitate to offer what they have to help someone else.

Generous people humble me, and more than anything they make me want to be generous too. And I’ve learned something about generous people. Because I’ve known a lot of them. They all have something in common.

None of them have anything.

If you ask them about their house, they’ll tell you they don’t own a house. God owns a house and let them use it in His name. If you ask them about their possessions, they’ll tell you they don’t have possessions. God has blessed them with the things that make life easier, and they get to make use of them to help others in His name. The same is true of their finances. Everything they have is God’s, including their money. God is just trusting them to manage it in His name.

Have you ever tried to live that way? Looking at your house, your car, your money, your everything as though it truly belongs to God and He’s just letting you borrow it? Would that change your perspective on the things you call your things? Would that lead you to take better care of the things God has given you? Or would you worry less about them?

If nothing else, it should make us second guess how we use our things.

But what happens if you open your house to strangers and they tear it up? What happens if you give money to someone and they let you down? Believe me, I feel those questions. I come from a school of thought that you’re supposed to be responsible with the things you have, and I don’t think that’s wrong.

But what’s more important? Doing what God says or taking care of things that don’t even belong to you?

God has given us everything we have, and as Americans, we have a lot. I don’t think we really understand how much we have until we leave the country. The areas of Mexico and Guatemala that I’ve been in have been among the poorest I’ve ever seen—and also the kindest and most generous.

Does it make sense for Americans to cling to what doesn’t even belong to them?

Before you decide to favor your things over the people around you, take a moment and really talk to God about it. Yes, we’re supposed to be wise, and I do believe God gave us brains for a reason. But don’t ever let concern for things get between you and doing what God says is right.

No house or car or paycheck is worth that.

When you open your doors and your home and your heart to others, God is able to reach others with His love through you. You get to be an extension of God, welcoming people and loving people and helping people.

Don’t worry about the expense. Remember, God gave you the means to obtain what you have in the first place. If He wants you to have it again, He’ll give it to you.

Don’t lose the opportunity to be Jesus to someone because you’re afraid to lose something you don’t even own.

The only thing that matters

It’s so easy to get caught up in the craziness of life that oftentimes I forget the things that really matter. The pesky little problems in life are small and insignificant but they can seem to big and so troublesome that they’re all I can focus on.

I don’t think I say this enough, but I love the Bible. If you haven’t read it, you really should. And I don’t mean from cover to cover. Just pick a book. Read Philippians. It’s short and full of joy. Read the Gospels and learn about Jesus. Read Ruth. It’s a beautiful love story that is a symbol of God’s love for us. And if you’re sad or depressed or have forgotten what’s really important in life? Read Psalms.

Psalms is uplifting and encouraging. Whenever I read the Psalms, I always find something that encourages me.

I know recently that I have been really stressed out. More stressed out than I have ever been in my life. The issue mostly revolves around work and me not knowing how to deal with the amount of work I have. But let’s be honest here. It’s just a job, and I don’t want to view my job as my purpose for living. It’s not, and it shouldn’t be. Not ever. Because there are more important things. I have never wanted wealth or recognition or fame (although having enough money to buy groceries now is nice), but Psalm 73:25-26 reminded me of something this morning:

 25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
      I desire you more than anything on earth.
 26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
      but God remains the strength of my heart;
      he is mine forever.

God is all that matters. He’s the most important person in my life. Our relationship is the priority in my life — or it should be. I need to want closeness with Him more than anything else, more than finances, more than comfort, more than my family . . . . more than publication. More than the realization of my dreams. More than anything means more than anything. And I know I haven’t been there.

In every step of my life, God has never left me. No matter where I was physically or spiritually or emotionally, no matter how many times I failed Him, He has never failed me, and He has promised to keep strengthening me and to always be with me.

Everything else in my life pales in comparison to Him. There’s no one like Him. My best friend. My ally. My eternal supporter who knew my gifts and dreams before He gave them to me. And at the end of everything, when it’s just Him and me, I want Him to tell me that I did a good job. That I kept my perspective right. That I lived the way I was supposed to.

That’s more important than anything else. So maybe I need to start living like it.