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Friday, December 13, 2013

Advent Conspiracy - Give More

My Life Group does a sermon-based study at 6AM on Tuesdays at Mel’s Diner.  (I call us the Crazy-Early-Mighty-Men-of-God-Group.)  A few weeks back we were discussing the sermon “Conflicted Compassion” and wrestling with how we give, why we give and the legacy we are leaving.  At the end of the study I challenged the guys to pay attention to the Holy Spirit’s promptings to be compassionate towards others and we would come back and tell stories of what happened.
            A couple of weeks ago someone came to our door to sell something – pretty unusual for the foothills.  As we got talking it came up that I’m a pastor and the guy began to tell me about his faith journey.  He had a heart for the poor, hungry and broken in the Sacramento area and formed a ministry to provide resources for those in need and a transitional shelter for families.

            In the middle of his story, the Holy Spirit whispered in my ear, “Give him the money in your pocket.”  I don’t often carry cash on me but that morning someone had given me a good amount of money and I had just stuck it in my pocket.  Now I’m being told to give it away.  So at the end of our conversation, I took the money from my pocket, handed it to him and told him to put it toward his ministry.
            In our conversation he had mentioned the website and Facebook page of his group.  Later, I went to look them up but couldn’t find the website and I began to wonder, “Did I just get ripped off?”  If it was my money, I guess I could go down that road but the truth is, it wasn’t my money I gave him – it was God’s.  I wasn’t responsible for what he did with it.  I was responsible for listening to God and obeying God.
            It is a constant battle for me to remember I ultimately own nothing.  God has made me the caretaker of a tremendous amount but it is not mine, it is his.  And God can do what he wants with it, when he wants to.  In Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth he says twice “You were bought with a price.” (1 Corinthians 6:20, 7:23)  I am not my own – I belong to him.  I needed to be ransomed from the life of death and destruction I was following.  I was the recipient of an amazing grace that I can never dream of repaying.  Therefore, all I am, all I have belong to God.
            There can be many motivations to give – guilt, a desire to do good, gratitude for what we have – but the deepest, most enduring motivation to give is because of grace.  Grace-giving is when we become a conduit of God’s generosity.  It isn’t about me or my agenda.  It is about God, his agenda and the abundance of his resources.
            This Advent season, I hope you will take the risk to be open to grace-giving.  Open yourself up to the whisper of the Holy Spirit to empty your pockets as a source of blessing to others.  Just obey and allow God to take care of the results.
Peace and grace,


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