I feel really blessed to have grown up in a home where giving money away was a fun thing to do.
“Tithing” wasn’t seen as a chore, or a legalistic 10% that had to reluctantly be given; it was seen more as just giving away what wasn’t ours to keep anyway. And I was encouraged to get creative with that.
Although I feel that giving money to your own church is really important, lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how to also help out in other areas that I feel passionate about. And I would love to teach our girls how to enjoy giving, and to be aware of all the needs around them.
I had a fun conversation with Anika the other day as we were reading through the MCC and Compassion Christmas catalogues. I was hoping that showing her stuff like that would get her interested and excited about ways that she could help people that she doesn’t even know. For some reason, she got really attached to the idea of buying chickens. It might have been because her favorite food to eat is eggs – she really wanted kids in far away countries to also have lots of eggs to eat. She asked many questions about chickens, and how they would benefit the lives of a poor family.
After talking about it for awhile, I asked if she would like to guy a chicken with her own money. Her eyes lit up, and then clouded over just as quickly. She got a very confused look on her face. She asked, “But where would I buy a chicken??….I know!! We could go to a pet store!”
So I had to explain that she would just give her money, and someone else would buy a chicken that already lived far away. She was very fascinated with this all, so it looks like we’ll be focused on chickens this Christmas.
And I guess what’s been on my mind regarding money is that so often, the focus is on the hard stuff, like budgeting and debt and materialism. It’s almost like we feel that we can’t like money too much, or have fun spending it, because the love of money is the root of all evil, after all!
Ben and I were listening to a message about money the other day, and this quote really stuck out to me:
“Money is a person’s personal energy reduced to portable form. It can go where he could not go; speak languages he could not speak; lift burdens he could not touch with his fingers; save lives with which he cannot deal directly.” (Harry Emerson Fosdick, 1878-1969, American minister)
Isn’t that amazing? If money were viewed in that way, how much joy could we find in lifting burdens and saving lives?
Anika cannot go to a pet store, buy a chicken, and personally take it to a third world country. But here money can be spent with joy on a chicken that will affect the lives of people she will never meet.
And to me, that’s just fun! I think it’s supposed to be.
There’s this great story in 1 Chronicles 29 about David preparing for the temple of the Lord to be built. He and all the people gathered together to give of their possessions for the building of the temple. The people gave generously, and afterward David prayed:
“O Lord our God, as for all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name, it comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you. I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things have I given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you. O Lord, God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Israel, keep this desire in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you.”
David asked God for the continuing desire to give with joy. That’s what I’m going to start praying for. Want to try it too? And then go have fun and buy a chicken. Or something.