2 Corinthians 8:7, But just as you excel in everything…in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness, and in the love we inspired in you…see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
There are two words that really sum up the Christmas season for me--giving and grace. The Webster's dictionary definition for each of these words is exhaustive confirming their importance.
“to surrender, freely transfer the possession of something to someone, bestowing (love, affection, or other emotional support).”
“the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings, a divinely given talent or blessing.”
When you combine these two words, we have the title of this week’s email, Giving Grace. In the book of Acts, Paul describes a phenomenon of benevolence where people suddenly started selling their personal possessions and gave the money to Paul to give to those in need. This is a picture of selflessness or giving grace. Nothing breaks the back of an entitlement mentality quicker than a spirit of giving. Years ago I saw a movie that literally changed my heart. It was called “Pay It Forward.” The movie focused on a boy’s idea of changing the world through random acts of kindness, and I came away a firm believer in this selfless principle. I love paying the tolls of people who are behind me on the toll road, or buying another person’s groceries at the store. It is TRULY more blessed to give than it is to receive!
During our recent move, I was cleaning out my nightstand and found a $100.00 dollar bill that I thought I had lost years ago. I was so happy. I stuck it in my wallet and started thinking about what I would use it for--a new shirt, a bottle of men’s cologne, a pair of jeans? Then just yesterday, a technician from the alarm company came to activate my home security system. As we began to talk, the technician started sharing his life story with me (this happens all the time!) and deep from within, I heard a familiar voice say,
“are you going to buy yourself something with that $100 bill, or are you going to feed this man’s children?”
Before I realized what I was doing, I handed this precious stranger CDs of Wholetones, Wholetones Chroma, and Wholetones Christmas, and that crisp $100 dollar bill! And this is what he said,
“My whole life I have been an atheist, I was too smart for God, but a couple of weeks ago when I was out of options and broke, I decided to pray and ask a God I didn’t believe in for help, and immediately afterwards I received a call from my landlord telling me he was forgiving my debt and I could continue to live in my apartment!”
He went on to say,
"…and then this week I meet you and you bless my socks off for no reason. Yes Michael, I am a believer, and this Sunday I am taking my kids to church for the first time.”
If we allow ourselves to become vessels of benevolence, empowered by giving grace, we will change the world, one person at a time. After James, the technician, left my home, I lay down on the floor and wept as I considered how easy it would have been for me to be selfish and keep that money for myself. Now here’s where it gets deep… I thought I had lost that $100 a long time ago. The truth is, God kept it hidden in my nightstand for years until its owner arrived in my home yesterday! Let’s be overcome with giving grace this Christmas and truly make a difference in the lives of others. It was Christ’s selfless sacrifice that changed my life forever; we should follow His example.
We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. —Winston Churchill
Live to give, give to live,
Michael S. Tyrrell