“You give because the love of God has been poured into your heart, not to satisfy the law.” Sherry K. White
I think it’s safe to say that most of us have plenty, even though too much of our time is spent talking about our lack; “I don’t have any creativity”, “ I don’t have the power to change it”, “I need more (whatever)”, “I have no time to pray.”
Jesus is our example of right relationship with everything; he gave everything of himself to others. Everything belongs to God and we are called to be stewards of his gifts. We are here solely for God’s purpose. He doesn’t need our money or talents to accomplish his work, rather by our generosity and trust in him, God unleashes many benefits upon us.
The human part of us can be stingy. We get used to a certain standard of living and like the idea we can buy whatever we want. We want to keep our money and save in the case of a possible shortfall. Our time is too precious to be given away freely. We squander our talents and give only enough so that we don’t feel the pinch. But Jesus tells us, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”(Matthew 19:21) He doesn’t make it easy for us to rest in our materialistic comforts. Generosity should require sacrifice and help us to detach from things that ultimately aren’t important. Jesus us wants us to learn to trust in him.
As we enter into the season of giving let us cultivate real changes in our ideas about stewardship. Let’s make it a habit to give from the heart year round. Let’s begin to unleash our generosity in order to increase our capacity to love. And when I say love, I mean the kind of love that sacrifices, empathizes, lives in trust, and does all giving from a place of joy. This doesn’t mean we’ll always feel happy, instead we’ll feel an internal joy unequaled by what we can attain in material goods. It’s that “money can’t buy this” kind of joy.
Becoming complete takes daily practice and spiritual discipline. It may require us to change the way we see things.
Think about your “stuff” differently. For example, rather than saying “my table,” invite friends to the table, or our table. In your heart thank God for the table around which you gather. Begin to see the table as the place of encounter; rather than focusing on the stuff, focus on the stories being shared around the table. Gently let go of possessions as if we have a right to them or own them. They are simply objects. Resolve to make no thing so important that it eases God out of your awareness.
If you buy a new article of clothing donate a gently used article to a local charity organization. Do not simply donate what you don’t want anymore, donate nicer items that you do not need, but are having difficulty letting go of. The value of this gesture happens on the inside. We begin to realize less can be a good thing.
Find time to give time. Rather than experiencing busy days, let your days be full. Busy may imply moving about from thing to thing without purpose or awareness. A full day has intention and presence. There is someone who could benefit from an hour or two a week of your time and attention. Sometimes just a few minutes of sacred listening is all we need to cement lasting relationships based on empathy.
Make time for prayer. Jesus’ intention for a complete life is that we make time for him and others. He is pointing us in the direction of trust and heaven. We can trust that he is with us always. In good times as well as difficult times, he asks us to trust in him. He encourages us to rest with him awhile. When you’re tired and feel beaten down, he simple asks us to get quiet and listen inwardly to him. He is right there inside of you. Detach from the things of this world so you are free to live rightly and justly and therefore are preparing for a life close to Jesus when you die. This begins right now, here on earth.
Resolve to hold difficult relationships in a new way. If you cannot “let go” of them ask God to help you navigate the feelings and emotions that rise within you. Where there is anger ask God for empathy and compassion. Where there is resentment, ask God for understanding. Where there is jealousy, ask God for trust. Where there is defiance, ask God to open your heart.
A change in our attitude and outlook will bring us more freedom than we ever imagined. We will begin to give of ourselves not because we are told to do so but because we desire it more than anything else. We will feel the love of God poured into us and thanksgiving will come every day.
May you experience the blessings of this Thanksgiving season.