IF YOU GIVE FREELY, YOU'LL BE ENRICHED YOURSELF
- By: Whitney Hopler, Live It Channel Editor
Giving often involves sacrifice - of your time, money, or energy. Sometimes it can hurt. But if you decide to be generous, the resulting rewards will more than outweigh the costs.
Think about it. God is generous with you, pouring out His love into your life in unlimited ways. Your generosity opens doors for God's power to flow through you into other people's lives, enriching both you and the people you help.
Here are some ways you can strive to be generous:
Remember that God owns everything, and that He has made it possible for you to acquire all you have. Make an inventory list of your blessings, taking a few minutes to write down everything you can think of for which you're grateful (be sure to include non-material blessings, such as friends and health, as well as material ones, such as a house or car). Then study the list to realize how much you have, and tell God how thankful you are for it all. In gratitude, let your response be generous giving.
Ask God to help you give cheerfully. If you're motivated by guilt, a sense of obligation, or a desire to get something in return, don't give. Instead, give because you truly want to help people and it brings you genuine joy to do so.
Look for opportunities to give everyday. Make it a habit to be proactive at finding needs that you can help meet. Relish the thrill and sense of fulfillment you enjoy when God uses you to touch someone else's life.
Be courageous. When you sense God leading you to help someone, go ahead and do so. Remember that good intentions don't help anyone, but faithful actions do.
Trust God to enable you to help other people regardless of your current circumstances. If you don't have much money, perhaps you could give some of your time. If you possess a special talent, God will make a way for you to use it to contribute to others.
Focus on spiritual significance rather than worldly success. Accept God's unconditional love for you. Don't worry about attaining a certain level of achievements, wealth, or status. Rest in the assurance that God loves you for who you are, and be content with your current circumstances in life. Resist pressure to constantly strive to do more or earn more if God isn't leading you to do so, and be willing to give up your rights and resources if necessary to help others. Remember all that Jesus gave up on the cross so that He could save the world - the ultimate act of generosity.
Adapted from The Generosity Factor: The Power in Holding Things with Open Hands, copyright 2002 by Ken Blanchard, S. Truett Cathy, and the Blanchard Family Partnership. Published by Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Mich., www.zondervan.com, 1-800-727-3480.
POVERTY, CHARITY, AND GENEROSITY
- Holy Bible
 For charity delivers from death and keeps you from entering the darkness;
 and for all who practice it charity is an excellent offering in the presence of the Most High.
 Give of your bread to the hungry, and of your clothing to the naked. Give all your surplus to charity, and do not let your eye begrudge the gift when you made it.
 For almsgiving delivers from death, and it will purge away every sin. Those who perform deeds of charity and of righteousness will have fullness of life;
 "If there is among you a poor man, one of your brethren, in any of your towns within your land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother,
 Take heed lest there be a base thought in your heart, and you say, `The seventh year, the year of release is near,' and your eye be hostile to your poor brother, and you give him nothing, and he cry to the LORD against you, and it be sin in you.
 For the poor will never cease out of the land; therefore I command you, You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in the land.
 Blessed is he who considers the poor!
The LORD delivers him in the day of trouble;
 The poor is disliked even by his neighbor,
but the rich has many friends.
 He who despises his neighbor is a sinner,
but happy is he who is kind to the poor.
 Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity
than a man who is perverse in speech, and is a fool.
 He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD,
and he will repay him for his deed.
 He who closes his ear to the cry of the poor
will himself cry out and not be heard.
 He who gives to the poor will not want,
but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.
 Give alms from your possessions to all who live uprightly, and do not let your eye begrudge the gift when you make it. Do not turn your face away from any poor man, and the face of God will not be turned away from you.
 Jesus said to him, "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."
 And Zacchae'us stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold."
 A generous man will be made glad;
likewise transgressors will utterly fail.
STOP JUDGING AND START LIVING
When someone needs your help, are you ticked off or motivated by love?
- By: Whitney Hopler, Live It Channel Editor
A coworker who regularly wears designer clothes and drives a Jaguar asks you to lend him money to help him pay some unexpected medical bills from an emergency operation. Your sister and brother-in-law ask you to baby-sit their notoriously misbehaved kids without any notice when you have other plans so they can attend a weekend retreat for couples with marital problems.
When people ask you for help, you could resent their requests if they don't seem to deserve it, or if they simply irritate you. But God can give you genuine love for people in need that will fuel the compassion necessary to serve others as He leads.
Here are some ways you can deepen your love for people who need your help:
Ask God to help you see needy people from His perspective. Know that everyone has great worth and dignity because they are made in God's image.
Be humble. Realize that you've made some poor choices in life, just as everyone has at some time. Thank God that He loves you despite your mistakes, and understand that poor decisions don't disqualify anyone from receiving His love.
Be patient. Expect people to change gradually, since change is a process that often takes a great deal of time. Know that God wants each person to keep growing toward his or her fullest potential. Ask God to help you see great potential in each person you encounter.
Remember what it felt like to be in need whenever you were going through tough time yourself. If someone helped you, recall how much of a blessing that was in your life.
Be available for God to use you, and regularly listen for Him to speak to you about someone He wants you to help. Be flexible, willing to sacrifice time or energy where necessary. Get more excited about participating in God's work in the world than about following your own agendas.
Don't let fear stop you. Know that God will never ask you to do what you cannot do; He will always supply the power you need. Ask Him for courage. When you help others, don't attempt to do more than God is calling you to do. Set proper boundaries to keep your relationships healthy.
Ask God to reveal any prejudices against any specific types of people that you might be harboring in your heart without realizing it. Then confess wrong attitudes and ask for grace to change.
Adapted from A Patchwork Heart: Deepening Your Love for Others, copyright 2002 by Kim Moore and Pam Mellskog. Published by NavPress, Colorado Springs, Co., www.navpress.com. For copies of the book, call 1-800-366-7788.