Ronnie and I have even been blessed by a stranger's generosity this past week. Ronnie went to the grocery store to pick up some groceries for the weekend, and forgot his wallet so the person behind him just paid for all of his groceries without hesitating. There's something about Christmas that seems to make us just want to give, to help, to serve, and to bless others.
Personally, I have challenged myself to live like this all year long. If I see I need, I want to do my part to meet it, not just at Christmas time. I know we have been blessed and provided for by God, and we want to be good stewards of what He's entrusted us with and give back to others. But I have to tell you guys a secret: I can be really selfish. Actually, I am really selfish. There is one thing I do not like to sacrifice, and that is my time. I would much rather donate to a cause with my money then give up a Saturday morning sleeping in and drinking coffee in bed with my husband. I would rather write a check then have one more commitment on a weeknight after work. I am selfish with my time, because it is so limited. I am so tired, I am so overwhelmed, I don't have enough time to hang out with my husband, etc. I have a hundred excuses to why I don't like to sacrifice my time to help others.
We tithe to our church regularly, we are happy to donate money to causes, we sponsor a child in Uganda to go to school, we try and tip generously, and help out others financially when we can. But people don't always need our money, do they? Does money bring comfort to someone who is hurting because they just lost a loved one? Does money fill up the empty places of a heart who's marriage is hurting? Does money provide a listening ear to a student who just wants to be heard?
One of my co-worker's last day was Friday. Her husband decided after 13+ years of marriage that he wasn't happy any longer, and wanted a divorce. He decided to walk out on his wife and two teenage daughters to pursue his own "happiness". My co-worker has no friends or family here in Idaho because they were stationed here for her husband's job in the military. My heart ached for her, and I didn't know how I could help until out of nowhere, I felt the nudge to offer my help to pack and load her moving pod so she could move back to her home town. I rallied some of our coworkers together, and on Saturday morning, with Starbucks and donuts in hand, we arrived at her house and packed and loaded the entire thing so she could move back to Georgia, where all of her family is. I sacrificed my time which is just what she needed. She didn't need our money, but she did need our help. Sometimes people need to know they have people in their corner. To know they're not alone.
"But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting others." -Luke 11:42
Giving financially is a wonderful way to help people, but God showed me this weekend that isn't my sole job. He doesn't just want me to give away my money, but He wants me to meet needs. To shine His light to those who need it most. To sacrifice in ways that make me uncomfortable so my heart could be more aligned with His. Giving, whether it is time, money, etc. isn't just about the act of giving. Its about love. Its about loving people in everything we do. Its about loving people in ways that remind them they're not alone. That they're loved by God and never forgotten.
"If I give away all I have, and I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing."
1 Corinithians 13:3