In the spirit of this approaching Christmas season (Hanukkah was over the evening of December 5th) it might be a good time to be reminded of some of the principles of giving. Keep in mind that giving should be meaningful, both for the giver and the receiver. Never give out of rote: give because it is right and good. Ergo—
How to Give—a Seven Point Primer
- Give because it is right. No matter what your definition of right is, giving cannot be construed as anything else. It is not a bribe, a peace offering, or a one-upmanship on the receiver. It must simply be simply right, nothing else.
- Give within your means—with some wee bit of sacrifice. It may never be noticed by the other person. That does not matter. It will secretly mean much much more to you.
- Give in terms of the other person’s wants and needs, NOT in terms of what you would like to give them. When my wife and I were first married I would always give her clothing; she could have cared less. Didn’t even take the blouse or scarf out of the box. Then I noticed she loved to read: so I gave her books. Guess what? She hugged & kissed me and vanished for three days reading the new book. I learned to give in terms of what she wanted.
- Plan for giving. Always try to squirrel away cash-in-a-stash for later giving. It’s freeing! Giving up 2 cups of coffee a week could free up $20 a month. Get the picture?
- Get into the practice of giving. Christmas won’t be such a big thing if you already give to others regularly.
- Give graciously. Not lavishly, unless if seems appropriate to you. There is little in this life that expresses genuine love like sacrificial graciousness.
- Accept ALL gifts with thankfulness and humility. The one giving them has sacrificed for you. Especially be thankful for hand-made gifts, no matter the quality. They are the most precious of all.
Above all, be thankful that you have the means to give anything at all. Not all people on this planet have the resources to give very much. So, if you are one who does, please do not hold back. And always remember the poor in your giving. God does. Please.
/enˈtītlmənt/ Synonyms— right, prerogative, claim.
We are a society of entitlement. The handout, social welfare, governmental healthcare paid for by others, has produced a generation, or two, or three, of people who expect others to take care of them, or at the least, someone to cover for them, to pick up their slack, to meet their needs. Too many of us believe we have a fundamental right to expect this. People have actually said to me “Why should I work when I can make just about as much by not working”
Not unexpectedly, entitlement has also issued a sense of un-thankfulness among many. A simple “Thank you.” is not in our vocabulary. It has been replaced by the silence of self-deserving expectation. No “thank you” necessary, required, or even considered. How can thankfulness arise from a mindset of I deserve it?
Imagine a world where all of us were thankful for even the simplest of things— bread, a place of shelter, a soft pad on which to close our eyes and sleep, a meal, a friend. Imagine a world where everyone was grateful for what they have been given.
Imagine a world where those blessed with abundance wanted to graciously give to those in need— without bread, without shelter, without a place to lay their head. (Patrick Dempsey comes to mind.) How can we shift an entitlement-mindset to an enrichment-mindset, where people want to contribute to the greater good, to the blessing upon others? THIS is what genuine Christians should be about, immersed in their surrounding towns, neighborhoods, and the world.
In our society we have an abundance. Some of it we have earned; a lot of it we have been given. Give thanks to where it is due. Oh, one more thing…