Hey guys! I am very excited about today's post! Scout from The Soul Anchor is here today to share her heart. She always has very heart-felt posts. Though I haven't met her, I can really see her heart for Jesus through what she writes. It is really neat that she chose to talk about this topic, because God has really been convicting my heart of the same thing. If you read anything on my blog this week, please read this!
Hello everyone! I am so honored to speak to you through Jennifer's "Faith Spotlight!" I've loved reading the words of other women, and hopefully I can be a blessing to someone as well. The things God teaches us are so individual and personalized, and I love that God works within each of us in the unique ways that we need. I wanted to share with you one of the biggest lessons God has been teaching me this past year. It's a lesson I'm still learning in new and developing ways. I hope I never stop exploring this lesson either!
God has really molded my heart in the area of generosity. If you look through the stories and words of wisdom all throughout the Bible, God is a HUGE fan of giving, of serving others, and of people who have a generous spirit. There's a lot of examples I could point to, but I think the most famous verse is still the best:
"So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Corinthians 9:7 (NKJV)
To be honest, I used to be a pretty selfish person. While I was a child, my parent's made me tithe 10% of my allowance, and I did so very grudgingly. When I was young and I needed to buy birthday presents for a friend, I always wanted to keep the gift myself -- or at least buy something in addition for me too! Growing up, I was always thinking about me, me, me. When I got older and could be more responsible for myself, I stopped tithing. I was kind towards people, but I was in no way truly generous. But then, last year, I went through some very huge events full of trials and heartache. Last year, I was stripped of almost everything I had. Literally. I lost the place I was living in and I began staying with friends and eventually my parents because I had nowhere else to go. A mere two weeks after I had to leave my home, I lost my job. I was unemployed, no place of my own, and hardly any possessions. I had my car, my clothes, and my cat. That was about it.
It was then that I truly experienced the generosity of others. People and then my parents let me stay with them out of the goodness of their heart, gifts came from unexpected places, and bills that I had no money for were somehow paid. My dear friend, Laura, told me this saying that I will never forget: "When you're in need -- give." That thought rooted deep within my heart, and I decided to try it. I had less than $20.00 in my bank account, but I went to the store and bought a $5.00 Starbucks gift card and a .99 Hallmark card, and in it, I wrote a note saying that the person who found this gift card is a valuable person, loved, and greatly cherished. I didn't sign the card, and I left it randomly in the mall food court for someone to find. And then I walked away and never saw who found the giftcard, but that was the point. That was the beginning of the Lord teaching me that to be truly blessed, I must be willing to be a blessing to others.
Over the course of the next few months and into the following year, God taught me many lessons about the blessing of tithing and investing in the community I call my church, of picking up the tab for a friend at the cafe who you know is struggling and seeing the relief in their eyes, and of ways to be generous outside of money as well. I have learned about the generosity of my prayers -- not focusing so much on my needs and my hurts, but of raising the name of others before God as well, of taking the time to volunteer and help out someone who needs it. Whether it be mowing the neighbors lawn, taking the elderly lady across the street grocery shopping, watching the kids so a tired mom and dad can have a night out, or helping a teenager become more confident in their schoolwork, there are SO many ways that we can demonstrate a generous spirit.
God asks us to be a cheerful giver -- he doesn't want us to give of our money, our time, or our efforts because we feel we HAVE to. He wants it to be the joy of our hearts, and I can totally see why! When you give freely of whatever you have to offer, you are opening yourself up to others. When you give something up for someone, you become vulnerable. In the same way, when you're willing to receive from another, you are opening yourself up to vulnerability as well. Creating this space between two people opens the doors for love, for compassion, for an increased sense of community, and a common experience of blessing each other. People who have generous spirits draw closer to each other, and those who are generous in the name of Christ also draw closer to the heart of God as a result. I think it is beautiful that the word "charity" also means "love," and they should truly be thought of as one and the same. To give cheerfully is to learn to love others, to validate their worth as fellow human beings, to acknowledge the interdependence that exists between communities, and to focus on the fact that what we have it not our own anyway. All that we have is a gift and a blessing from God, and the best way that we can say "thank you" to him is to pass it on and be a blessing to others in His name.
Please check out her blog! You will be greatly encouraged by this beautiful young woman!