Today, I was thinking about when I home schooled our three children. So they could learn how to help others, I took the kids to a depressed area of Toledo to a city mission to help. The woman who ran it went to our church. When we arrived, she had a huge pile of bags filled with clothes people from area churches had donated. She asked if we would help sort while someone was playing games with the children who came in after school. As I dumped a bag of clothes onto the table, I was shocked at what people donated to "help" people in need who couldn't afford clothes. Over half of the bag was tossed into the dumpster because it wasn't fit to wear with holes, bad smells and stains, missing buttons and broken zippers. Bag, after bag, after bag. It was the same thing. Some of the usable clothing was terribly outdated. Who would want to wear this?, I thought to myself. I was so shocked at the junk people sent to "help". The good clothing was either hung or neatly folded for shopping hours. All I could think was, "If the people who donated this stuff were in need, what would they think if they were offered this?" I found out this was the normal fare.
One of the teens who came to help with the children had them sit in a circle and share what was most important to them. Some of the children had come with her from her church in a suburb. The differences in answers between the children from the inner city and those from the suburbs was astonishing.The kids who were guests talked more about what they had they liked such as toys, music, clothes, and so on. The children who came every day after school talked about people, relationships, and good memories. When we have more stuff, that seems to be our focus. When we don't, then our focus is on what matters most.
Jesus pointed out to His disciples the difference between the wealthy and a poor widow in their attitudes about giving to God. The rich put in some of the money from what they had. The widow put in all that she had. I'm not saying whether we should or should not put our life savings into the collection plate at church. Instead, whatever she put in, she had to trust God for her provision. It's not uncommon for those who don't have very much to trust God greatly. They have seen His miraculous provision often. They can't make it without Him and they know it.
Not everyone who has much is necessarily chintzy with their giving. I've known some rather wealthy people who are generous in their giving, helping people in need while not wanting any thanks. They felt blessed by God to be able to give. But, it is easier for those with much to trust in their own ability to provide.The rich young ruler was one of those who couldn't handle parting with his wealth to follow Jesus. At the temple Jesus witnessed an interesting show from some of the wealthy in their fancy clothes making sure their donations made noise announcing their offering.Jesus, using this as a visual lesson, wanted His disciples learn something very important.
Much of the issue boils down to where we place our faith and trust, what we value most. The song, The Little Drummer Boy is a Christmas song about a young boy who goes to see baby Jesus. All he has is his drum. So he plays a song for the Baby. All that he has he gives to Jesus; his best.
This Christmas do we give Jesus all that you have? Do we trust Him with all that we give in His Name? All that we have was His before it was ours.
May the Lord bless you abundantly. Merry Christmas!