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The Joy of Giving 12/05/2008

Giving Thanks

Brenden Foster understood the true spirit of giving.

 

As we approach this very special season of the year when we honor the birth of our Lord and Savior, I can’t help but think of the absolute joy in giving. God made the greatest gift through His Son and the result of that expression of love is not only life forever, but joyful life now! Betty and I have discovered the great thrill in sharing with those around us. We have experienced exhilaration by giving food to the hungry, water to the thirsty, shelter to the homeless and our valuable time.

During these unstable economic times, we hear about the needs of even more people. I have also heard touching appeals to help pets that have been given up due to their owner’s inability to care for them. In this great country, people still respond to the needs of others. Salvation Army bell ringers adorn storefronts. Churches engage in various outreaches. Schools put up “angel trees” to give gifts to the less fortunate. I think it is wonderful that people care enough to share.

What motivates this outpouring of love? Some would attribute it to natural human compassion, but I believe it is the love of God, even in those who fail to recognize it. Hopefully, we understand that it is truly more blessed to give than to receive, especially when we do it solely for the benefit of the recipient. The true spirit of giving does not expect something in return. It is critical that we understand this truth. Although we are blessed when we give and understand that we reap what we sow (and always more than we sow,) when we give to benefit others, we should never focus on what’s in it for ourselves. It is troubling to see how many people “give to get.” It is not as meaningful when we give with that thought in mind.

Imagine the Christmas season if parents and grandparents gave to their children and grandchildren thinking about what they might get back from them in return. Or what if someone gave a gift to a wealthy friend because they thought that they might receive a gift of greater value? What a terrible practice and misunderstanding of the meaning of Christmas that would be.

There are some in Christian circles who have somehow been convinced that if they have any need or shortfall, they should simply give to a ministry and wait for an outpouring. I believe this misses the point. To me, it feels like manipulation or a spirit of greed, even on the part of those who may have a need.

If we understand giving and receiving correctly, we will know that we should put God first in all things. We honor him with our first fruits, we lose our life in His purpose and therein discover and experience it fully. When we truly become godlike in our interest for others, we do find clearer direction and receive great wisdom related to the important decisions in our lives, but we are not motivated to give with the thought of “what’s in it for us.” Many Scriptures can be twisted to fit this self-focused ideology, but I believe it fails to represent the true heart of God. When we make God first in our finances, first in our activities and first in our focus, then everything is better. Everyone benefits.

Brenden Foster was an 11-year-old Seattle boy dying of leukemia. He knew that he only had a few weeks to live. As he was being driven home from the hospital, he saw some homeless people and made it his short life’s goal to give them some food. His compassion created a movement of love that spread around the world. Brenden did not want to help the homeless because he thought it would improve his health; he knew it would improve their condition.

I believe God does focus His attention on those who have their attention focused on the things He says are of greatest importance. Jesus came to give life. We will live life fully when we understand the value of sharing life with others. That‘s the true spirit of giving and of Christmas.


Author: James Robison

Word Count: 700

About the author: James Robison is the founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, a Christian media ministry and mission relief organization. He and his wife, Betty, host of the television program Life Today; He has authored numerous books, including The Soul of a Nation, The Absolutes: Freedom's Only Hope and True Prosperity.

Media Contact: Randy Robison, editor at jamesrobison.net . Photo available upon request. Reprint rights granted with attribution for complete, unedited article. Revisions allowed only with approval.