Today, I want us to think of what it meant when scripture tells us that Jesus left his riches to become poor for our sakes.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9
The first time I ever read this verse, I was a senior in high school. I was the president of the youth group and we had adopted a family for Christmas. Ironically, this family lived only a few streets over from where I lived comfortably with my loving and stable family. I was in charge of gathering the food, clothing and toys for this needy family. I vividly remember searching for a Bible verse to write in the front of the Bible, which we were giving them. And I found this verse. It somehow seemed perfect and I quickly wrote it on the title page of the Bible.
I also had the privilege of delivering the offerings to the family. I remember nervously knocking on the door, noticing the peeling paint on the front porch. A woman, pitifully dressed, opened the door very sheepishly. She invited me in and introduced me to her precious children as well as her husband whose presence in the middle of the day was evidence of the hard times on which they had fallen. No work meant no Christmas for this family.
Except that a few self-centered teenagers had momentarily stepped out of their self-centeredness.
It was a simple thing that I did that day. Deliver some food, a gift or two; play with the kids for just a minute; smile at the sweet lady; give them a Bible verse, which pointed out that Jesus chose poverty so we could be spiritually rich. The experience moved me and was a greater blessing to me than to them.
Fast forward a year. When I was home on Christmas break my freshman year of college, there was a knock at the door. I opened it and there stood the same sweet lady. I had not seen her in a year. She smiled broadly, like one who had survived the difficult times and was now better, stronger. She handed me a wrapped Christmas package. She said, “You were kind to us when we needed it last year. Things are better now. We wanted to do something for you this year.”
I opened two precious figurines, picked out just for me. I treasure them still.
It’s not too late. Go do something for someone else. You will be glad you did.
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Two weeks ago I ventured out with my two toddlers to Hobby Lobby. Having been home from China with our new son, Charlie, for only a few days, I felt brave just leaving the house. It has been 15 years since I had two toddlers to care for. It’s like riding a bike, though! You never forget how, but the older you are, the more tired you are! On this day, I did feel tired–very tired. Jet lag, middle age, and seven children–I guess I have an excuse! As I walked hand-in-hand with my two Asian cuties, I heard the familiar sound of the Salvation Army bell-ringers. There they were faithfully calling out to remember the poor and needy during this holiday season. As we approached the red bucket, I dug around in my purse for some change, all the while explaining to the kids (at least to Sally who can speak English!) that we needed to help the poor children. As they both placed a quarter into the red bucket, I had a startling thought: my children were no longer poor and needy. They once were, recently were. But now they were not. And I was overwhelmed with God’s goodness. Are you on the other side of poor and needy right now? Then praise God for it and help someone who is not yet there. Blessings to you, my friends!
Today, I found a study I wrote several years ago, about praying for your children. This truth hit home once again for me and it is a timely truth for this season.
Lord, give each of these children a generous heart, for we know that You love a cheerful giver. May their hearts be focused on all the abundant heavenly treasures that have eternal value, not in the passing earthly treasures of this world. 2 Corinthians 9:7
In Jesus’ Name, Amen
Our society today constantly sends the message that we need more, more, and more. We need better, bigger, newest, latest. I am very guilty of buying into the lie of more and better for me, me, and me.
And that is the same society that shouts these false messages to our children. If I fall prey to this, and I know better, how much more easily will our children fall prey to this “More for Me” mentality?
The only way to counteract this constant message is to give. We must model for our children a generous heart. They should see us be generous with our treasures, our talents, and our time. If we value heaven over earth, they will learn to do the same. If we hold loosely to our earthly treasures, they too will hold loosely to theirs. Let’s pray for generosity to be imbedded into our personalities and the personalities of our children.
In addition to praying for your children to have a generous heart, ask the Lord what you can do with your children to model that. Is there a needy family you could help? A neighbor for whom you could bake cookies? Is there someone to whom you could offer food, clothes, or toys? Let’s not wait until next Christmas to show our children what it means to be generous.