More than enough

Recently, I was shopping at Costco with my son. When we got home, I asked him to help me unload the car. There were lots of things to bring in so I handed him a box to carry. He told me that he could carry more than that, so I gave him more. Then I gave him more and more. “That’s enough,” he told me. The truth is, it was more than enough! He started laughing at the hilarious sight he knew he was, and attempted to carry in this tower of boxes.  He almost made it, too. It was when he tried to set them down that they all came crashing. We had a good laugh.


As I was reading Exodus 36 today, that picture of my son carrying the boxes came to mind. You see, Moses had been collecting offerings in order to build the tabernacle. People were so generous and just kept giving and giving. It was awesome! Then this happened:

Exodus 36:4-7  So all the skilled workers who were doing all the work on the sanctuary left what they were doing and said to Moses, “The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done.” Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” And so the people were restrained from bringing more,because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work.

Moses, please tell the people to stop giving; we have too much! Can you even imagine a scenario in your life where this is the case? This is some pretty extreme generosity. You see, the people saw the need and wouldn’t rest until it was met. How awesome is that? They not only gave enough, but they gave more than enough!

I’m not so good and giving more than enough. Don’t get me wrong, giving is awesome. It’s really cool to get to help someone meet their needs. I don’t mind buying someone lunch. But the Israelites not only bought lunch, they went for dessert, too. That’s some extreme generosity!

All this causes me to reflect on my own heart of generosity. Do I give of my time and my resources up to the point I am comfortable giving? Do I look first at what I can spare and give that? Or am I like the people of Exodus who just keep on giving to the point of overwhelming someone with extreme blessing?  The truth is, I’ve never been told to stop because I was too generous. The truth is, I tend to look at what I am lacking instead of what have. But the people of Israel didn’t let that stop them, nor did it stop the church in Corinth. In fact 2 Corinthians 8:2 says “their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.” 

With our generosity, God can take poverty and turn it into richness. He can take the very little we have and overflow us with joy as we give. I am challenged today to be more giving. As we enter this season of giving, let’s be mindful that no one has probably ever told us to stop giving. Until that happens, there’s room to grow our generosity.


The willing ones

It can be fun to give. There’s been times I have given to someone or something and really enjoyed it. There’s also been times where I have given and it didn’t feel fun at all. In fact, I wasn’t even remotely happy about it. I’m sure some of that had to do with whether or not it felt like an obligation. But it also probably had something to do with my willingness. And maybe my attitude. Maybe.

Exodus 35:29 All the Israelite men and women who were willing brought to the Lord freewill offerings for all the work the Lord through Moses had commended them to do.

Apparently, only the willing people gave. The ones who were hesitant, stingy, and greedy didn’t give. Nope. Only the willing ones. Now look closely here, it doesn’t say, only the rich ones. It doesn’t say, only the ones who had excess. It says the willing ones. And in this case, the offerings brought by the willing ones was enough to get the work done.


Doesn’t that seem to be the way God works? He works with the willing ones. When there is a great work to be done, He doesn’t drag people into it. He doesn’t spend His time trying to convince the most talented and wealthy people to get involved. He simply uses the willing ones. The question I have for you today is this: are you a willing one? Will you be counted among those who did something great for God? Not because you had to. Not because you had all the resources in the world. Not because you had all the skills necessary. But simply because you were willing.

Be a willing one!

I forgot the wedding gift

2 Corinthians 9:5  So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.

You have really got to read 2 Corinthians 9 today.  Blogging on just a verse or two is painful for me, because this is such a rich passage.  Paul covers the heart of giving – from sowing and reaping, to generosity, to heart attitudes, to provision.  I think I have changed my topic 5 times!

When you go to a wedding, you get to see a couple of people start a new life together.  It is an exciting time for them and you are excited that they invited you to come witness it with them.  That is, of course, unless they asked you to be in it, costing you hundreds of  dollars.  Some things I should probably not say out loud, but that’s the honest to goodness truth. Anyway, back to the wedding.  There is this thing we do at weddings: we bring gifts for the bride and the groom.  This is an opportunity to help them get a good start.  Now there are two different ways to approach this.  Some people are thrilled to go shopping and find something special for the newlyweds.  Others are thinking, geesh, what’s the cheapest thing on the registry?  Either way, you probably arrive with a gift.  I haven’t ever seen someone show up to a wedding and say, “I was supposed to bring a gift?”   It’s something you think about beforehand.  I mean you probably don’t just quickly write them a check on the way to the wedding.  I would never do that… ya.

Quickly moving on before I lose my point more than I already have.  Paul was writing the church in Corinth and telling them to put some thought into giving.  He was asking them to make a decision in their heart  to be generous.  He was reminding them of what God does with generosity.  He was pointing them to the heart attitudes, not just the act of giving.  You see, Paul didn’t want to just show up and have people feel all weird and obligated to reach into their pockets and hand him some cash.  But when we don’t make giving and generosity intentional in our lives, this is precisely what will happen.

It happens in the church too.  That offering plate goes around and we think there is some kind of social obligation.  If we don’t put anything in it, we feel a little guilty.  If we put something in, we feel like we were pressured.  It’s like walking by the homeless guy with the cardboard sign.  It’s easy to feel either obligated or guilty.  But here’s the thing – God is not a homeless guy with a cardboard sign.  And giving to the Lord is not some weird kind of social obligation.  It is a heart attitude.  It is a life decision of generosity.  It is an act of worship and praise to our God.  When we have the issue straightened out in our hearts, we can show up and give with confidence.  We have to make up our minds beforehand.  We shouldn’t be scrambling through our pockets for loose change.  That isn’t giving to the Lord, that is feeling obligated to make a deposit.  Let’s get giving right in our hearts so that we can make arrangements to give in advance, no matter what the occasion.  Then it will be a generous gift, not one grudgingly given.

Why we are lousy givers

2 Corinthians 8:7 But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.

I want to be good at everything, I must admit it.  But what I’ve always really wanted was to be really good at something.  I seem to be one of those people that has some ability at lots of things.  I am like “okay” at lots of things.  My wife happens to think this is great and annoying all at the same time.  “What don’t you know how to do?” she asks.  But just because I know how to do lots of things, doesn’t mean that I do any of them really well.  But there’s that guy you play basketball with who is really good at basketball.  That’s his gig.  He owns you on the court.  That guy is not me.

Here in Corinthians, Paul tells us to excel in everything.  This word “excel” implies to strive and work at being good at something.  I’ll sign up for that; I will try to excel at everything.  Faith? Yes, I want to excel in that.  Speech?  Absolutely, I want to be effective and life giving in my speech.  Knowledge?  Oh yeah baby.  I want to be smart.  Giving?  (Insert record screech here)  Excel in giving?  Why in the world would I want to be good at giving?

This is where the disconnect for many of us happens.  We want to excel in a whole bunch of spiritual things and we forget that giving is a spiritual act.  We can see faith is a platform for maturity, but we fail to see the power of giving.  Giving is more than just practical, it is spiritual.  Jesus gave like crazy.  He gave of His time, His words, His life.  He excelled at the grace of giving.

But giving goes beyond just what we think are spiritual things.  In this context, Paul is actually talking about money.  He is talking about giving where it hurts.  We somehow think it is harder to give away our lives, but in practice the money thing holds us hostage.  It reveals our greed and our lack of trust in God.  It reveals our heart attitudes.  We are to excel in giving.  We are to put it in to practice.  We are to do it really, really well.  It should come without reservation.

I find this to be counter-intuitive.  Well naturally speaking anyway.  When I live life working to preserve myself, giving is the thing I hate the most.  But when I let go and let God, I view the world differently.  But it requires that I see others as important to God.  I need to have the revelation that they are as important to Him as I am.  I need to see the bigger work that God is doing around me.  It requires that I get outside of myself.  When I do this, I will be able to see God’s heart for others as well as I can see His heart for me.  It is when I see outside of myself that I will be inspired and compelled to give.  This is something I wish to excel at – and it is His calling to all of us: to excel at the grace of giving.