4 Ways Giving Changes Us For The Better

Posted By on Nov 3, 2014 | 0 comments

in Conversations, Featured Stories - 5 min read by Suzanne O'Dell

4 Ways Giving Changes Us For The Better

During the holiday season, it’s easy to get caught up in the sheer chaos of Christmas shopping.

In America, we’ve taken it to the extreme: We camp out for deals at all hours of the day or night; we scour the internet; we live and breathe the idea that Christmas is all about accomplishing a to-do list. Before we know it, the joy of giving is sidetracked and we’re left feeling like we missed out on what really matters.

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In hopes of setting our sights beyond the glitter-filled aisles of Black Friday, here’s four reasons why the act of giving itself can orient our hearts around the true reason for the season:

Giving mirrors God’s attitude toward His children.

God is a loving father, and He delights in giving His children good gifts. But here’s an important distinction: In His wisdom, He gives us what we need—love, guidance, discipline, and yes, sometimes even suffering—to push us further toward refinement. He doesn’t’ hold back His love:

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:7-11, ESV).

If God was willing to offer His own Son for the sake of our salvation, shouldn’t we, as recipients of such an incredible gift, seek to give to others freely?

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Giving initiates the occasion to celebrate someone other than ourselves.

In a “me-centered” society, it’s easy to make everything—even giving—about ourselves. More often than not, we worry more about what our gifts say about us, than about how our gifts serve the ones receiving them. We compare, we measure, we worry. This is not the purpose of giving!

Rather, in the act of sacrificial giving, we have the treasured opportunity to take the focus off ourselves for a moment, and reorient our attention on the needs of someone else. Honestly, it’s a relief. When most of our days are spent with our best interests at the center of our actions, i.e. “What will make me happy/comfortable/my best self?” life becomes claustrophobic. But when we broaden our gaze beyond ourselves, we get to experience the true freedom that comes with loving others.

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Giving presents us with ways to show love by meeting practical needs.  

Christmas is not usually an occasion where we think of meeting practical needs. After all, socks and toothpaste aren’t exactly the most exciting gifts to open on Christmas Day.

But let’s expand our vision to the world around us. Today, there are millions of people living in abject poverty that really do need socks and toothpaste . . . and so much more. They need clean water. They need a way to send their children to school. They need access to God’s Word. They need hope.

Imagine what would happen this Christmas if we were able to save lives with our giving? It all starts with being willing to shift our thinking about the purpose of our gifts.

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Giving allows for opportunities to teach our kids what really matters.

Now that I have a child of my own, I realize that my attitude toward giving has shifted suddenly and dramatically. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love to see my 2 year old excitedly rip off the paper to a gift (even if he is still more interested in turning the box into a fort.) But I’ve realized, too, that I don’t want this to be what our Christmases together are all about.

I don’t want my son growing up believing that the most significant event in the history of our faith is all about him.

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No, I’m not going to ban Christmas gifts or do anything extremely minimalist, but I am going to teach him that giving is better than receiving. I want him to know that helping others brings more joy than we can ever get from boxes wrapped in shiny paper. I want him to know that Christmas is a celebration of Jesus, the greatest gift of all.

This Christmas season, I want to encourage you to really think about why you give. Who are you serving with your gifts? How can you meet practical needs?

A great way to start is to check out our World Help Gifts program. It’s incredibly easy to give gifts that literally make a life-saving difference in people’s lives, whether it’s a pair of egg-laying chickens to help feed a family, a vaccine for a child, or a Bible for someone who has never heard the name of Jesus.

Choose to do Christmas a little differently with us this year. Love intentionally. Give intentionally. And watch how lives—including yours—are changed for the better.

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