Monday, July 29, 2013

Why don't we give freely?

In Acts we see the church community in action like I think we'd all agree - even if we follow with a lot of buts and qualifiers - that the church is meant to be.

There was an intense sense of togetherness among all who believed; they shared all their material possessions in trust. They sold any possessions and goods that did not benefit the community and used the money to help everyone in need. Acts 2:44-45

Why don't we see that? Why don't we share much of anything at all other than maybe a meal with a strictly controlled guest list, let alone everything we own?

One factor is definitely that we see our stuff as ours, that we worked for and paid for ourselves, and why should we give it to people who didn't do anything to earn it?

We forget that we live in God's house, so everything we have is really His anyway.

But more than that, I think it's because we are afraid.

I think I find it easy - relatively - to remember that all I have is from God. But I still don't want to share my iPad. Why? Because while I think that God provided for me once, I have trouble believing he'll do it again.

We live in fear. What if the money runs out? What if I lose my job? What if the car breaks down? What if someone burrows my stuff and breaks it - I might not ever get another one.

When I had a proliferation of baby clothes that my daughter had already grown out of - many unworn - my first thought was eBay. Maybe I could get some money for things I didn't need. The clothes were all gifts in the first place, but the justification ran through my head - 'we've got a new baby, I'm not working, we need the money.'

I was afraid.

Then God nudged me, and I realised how blessed I had been to not have to buy a single piece of clothing for the baby myself. Not everyone has that kind of support. And so I decided that I would rather donate all that clothing to women who might really need it because it would come from no other source.

This idea was met with less enthusiasm from others than I expected. They were afraid too. The idea of giving it all away seemed like too much - 'what if you have another baby? What if you need it?'

Momentarily I nearly gave in to the fear. 'Maybe I shouldn't give it all,' I thought. 'Maybe I'll keep enough to clothe another baby just in case I happen to have another baby and its a girl and its summer and I desperately need clothes for her...'

And then I realised I had nothing to fear.

And not just because the family and friends who bought me gifts last time will still be there to support me next time.

But because I choose to believe that God is faithful. That Jesus meant it when he said "My little flock, don’t be afraid. God is your Father, and your Father’s great joy is to give you His kingdom.
That means you can sell your possessions and give generously to the poor." Luke 12:32-33

The baby clothes are just practise. And I hope that I am learning how to have faith so that when it comes to giving away all I have - my money, house, time - I can do it without fear.

You can start practising too. Find little things to give and share, even if you're worried you might lose out.

And how do you overcome the fear of what it will mean to give? Perfect love drives out fear. Seek God and His love, and with your eyes on Him, your 'stuff' won't matter. In fact, giving away your money will be a joy not a fear.

I know I've got a long way to go before I get there, but I know deep down my spirit rejoices in the love of God so much that I'd have joy living in the mud with nothing to my name if it meant love and life with the body of Christ.

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