After our first baby, Emily, was born and we went through several months of short nights, we realized that our struggle to catch up on lost sleep was not near as great as we had expected, as compared to previous occasions. Not that we didn’t get tired, but we managed okay at least. It was an interesting observation.
I was reminded once again of a principle that we have been observing since we read it early in our marriage. Give and it shall be given unto you. In the book Nevertheless I Live, Steven B. Curington writes quite a bit about this principle in one of the chapters. Simple put, when we give, God gives us what we need. We gave of our sleep to care for our baby, and God gave us the rest we needed.
Ways to Give
Through out the past years we have started to observe that the times we freely help financially, we always have enough. We are not rich, and that is not our goal. But it seems like the more we give, the more we have enough. Whenever we give just enough offering to “get by” our money seems to be short everywhere. Whenever we give freely with all our heart, we have more than enough. It is not that we get money sent to us. Many times it is simply that there are no extra, unexpected costs.
When we help others materially we have enough. Around here people often come asking if we have groceries to give or something. While we don’t always give them something, we have found that when we do, we lack nothing. Some years ago, Marcos mowed off his big, left toe while push mowing. For three weeks he could not work, and we saw how God provided so that we had extra to give to others. We were given groceries and some money, more than his normal wages. With that we could bless others and we never lacked either. We have been given fruits and vegetables, shoes, clothes, and we even found an umbrella beside the road once that I consider a gift from God, as we had none.
Time and Strength
Once we were going to have a Saturday at home to do some family projects around the house. As it turns out, the evening before someone called needing Marcos to help them for a good part of the day. After that he had to go get a new oxygen tank for a friend of ours who was bed-fast. Our whole day was “wasted” helping others giving of our time and strength, and our own projects were left undone. I do believe I cried a little bit. But I tried to remember the principle of giving. We were in a very busy season and seemed to have no time for our own things. But surely if we were giving for God, he would provide the time we needed. Sure enough, the next Saturday we got most everything done that we had wanted to do.
My father-in-law is a wonderful example of giving. All of his life he has been helping someone or other. While he has never been rich, in the last few years I have seen how he has prospered to the place where he now owns a business, home, and a couple of vehicles debt free. Besides that, he often is given fruits, vegetables, and other things as he goes about his work in different homes. (That is how we get most of our extras, through him!)
When not to give
Living in Central America, we all know that you can’t just give to whoever comes by asking all the time. That is not for their good. In general we have found that the first time someone comes asking for a bit of food or money, we give freely. After that we start weighing the situation. Usually they have promised to give it back, though we don’t necessarily expect it. That is where we use another principle from the book aforementioned. Steven said that one translation for “Charity… believeth all things” could be “Love gives the benefit of a doubt.” Usually if they don’t keep their promises they are too shy to ask again, or depending the situation we can kindly remind them that they are not fulfilling their promise, and once they do, they can again ask when they need something.
We have had neighbors who sent their children begging for something about every day. After awhile we started feeling like we needed to tell the children to tell their moms they had to come themselves. That took care of a lot of the problems, as the moms were too embarrassed to show up themselves, or were actually in need when they did.
There are some druggies who have become friends with my husband, and from time to time they show up asking him for a cookie or two. In these situations we know that they won’t be using that to buy stuff they shouldn’t, and it is a small way to show them a touch of homemade love.
When you start feeling real burnout from those who are always asking, it is time to ask God to show us where we are being selfish, or where we should hold back on the giving.
God will give wisdom
My encouragement for you would be to step out in faith in God’s promises. God provides for us, and will give us the wisdom to know when to give, if we are seeking His will.
“Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all.
Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name. But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee.” 1 Chronicles 29:11-14
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Read more in this article on living lives poured out for Jesus.