Thursday, February 18, 2010

Being Generous

I was not raised in an especially generous home. My dad told me over and over-- "if you give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day; but if you teach a man to fish, he'll eat for life".

As a Christian, that is a hard thing to find peace with. Jesus has said that we will always have the poor with us. He calls us to give and love others--because His love is made complete in us. So, is what my dad said biblical?

I don't know that it's a matter of being biblical or unbiblical. I think it can be a true statement about life, but I think it is used wrongly as a justification for not giving and for holding onto possessions and money. At least I realize that it was in my life until God got a hold of my heart in my early 20s and began showing me what it meant to live generously and give to others rather than being miserly.

I enjoy these verses from Ecclesiastes by Solomon:

18 Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him—for this is his lot. 19 Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift of God. 20 He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart. Ecc. 5:18-20 NIV

I think that there are times that God calls us to give a fish and other times when we are to teach someone how to fish.

The reason this has come to my mind this week is out of concern for a dear friend who has been ministering to a woman who wants others to give her the things what she wants--in this case a car for her son. My friend is part of a group of women who provide for all of this woman's physical and emotional needs.

At first, I was very concerned for my friend. This request unsettled me. But, while we were talking last night and I realized that I don't have to worry about my friend. God will give her discernment about whether it is time to be a part of giving a fish or it is time to help this woman learn to fish. I am thankful for the Holy Spirit--that we are not alone in this life. God speaks to our hearts and I believe He prompts us when we pray and listen to Him.

10 If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up! Ecc.4:10 NIV

We do need to help each other up. God desires that we would love and encourage one another--it is how we see His love.

But, it is easy to become cynical about people taking advantage of others and their generosity. And I brought this struggle to a friend last night--that question--how do I know how much is wise to give? She shared this with me, which I thought was very wise.

At the end of the day, I'd rather err on the side of loving and giving too much, than loving and giving too little.

Wise words.

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