Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Possessed by Possessions

"Mine!" is such a common word among children. How early in life do we begin protecting things that are ours? Do we carry that attitude into our adulthood unnoticed like Ricky Martin's homosexuality?
We most certainly do. Why wouldn't we? We are given toys, games, and money as children and told that they are ours as soon as we can comprehend what that means. Not a minute later we're reprimanded for not sharing them with our siblings or playmates. How confusing! If it's mine, then why should anyone else get to enjoy it? We learned to share, and did it reluctantly, and possibly still do with that same unwilling attitude. Our toys have become houses, our games cars, and our allowance has turned into a big fat six-figure income! Okay, maybe not. But there is a lot more than five bucks a week coming in! 

It seems that there are three levels of generosity that are important to consider. The first and easiest is with our money. Anyone would loan her friend a few bucks if she's in need. There isn't much risk involved in dropping some change or a dollar bill in a homeless man's cup or a dirty santa's salvation army tin. Most Christians will give 10% of their income as a "tithe" to the church (and that'll help your tax refund!) I hear that California is really nice to the homeless! 

It is important to be generous with our money, but if we stop there we haven't even begun to open our hearts. It's a small sacrifice, and sometimes we'll use it as an easy way out. "Here's a couple bucks, just leave me alone."

The next level is with our possessions. This can be as small as clothes, CDs, movies, books, and as big as a car. I've struggled with this in my life. I love music, and was always hesitant to loan out a CD (you know, before iPods?). If I found a scratch on my "Kids of Widney High" CD, it would totally shatter my universe. In order to become more generous, we must completely change our understanding of our possessions. Everything we have has been given us by God. Above all else, it's His.

2 Corinthians 9:6-11 "Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. 'For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.' And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say,

'They share freely and give generously to the poor.
Their good deeds will be remembered forever.'

For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.

Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.
Giving freely our possessions calls us to a higher level of selflessness, but there is one even higher. 

1 Peter 4:9 "Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay."
I love Dwyane Wade. In fact, he's my favorite athlete. But he is so selfish about his "house!" :)

Tiffany and I have been blessed to be among some very generous Christians during our first few months here. While we've been waiting for our house in North Carolina to sell, we haven't been able to afford our own place in Ohio. We are so thankful for the three different families who have opened their homes to us, and made it possible for us to live here. So thank you to the Junkers, to Heather, and to the Morelands. This is the most difficult kind of giving. Opening your home requires a personal involvement, a risk of endangerment, and an extremely selfless sacrifice. But what a blessing ensues. God has surely been generous with us, in the giving of His grace, and let us be generous likewise with all that he has given us.

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