The radical teachings of Christ call on Christians to sacrifice themselves, whether it be of their time, labor, or material items, for the betterment of others.
We are called to give abundantly with a cheerful spirit.
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:
“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
their righteousness endures forever.”
2 Corinthians 9:6-9
While most of us do not struggle with giving abundantly, everyone can admit to a time when they gave with less than a cheerful spirit.
I think this is especially true for volunteer works. We often feel that those we are serving are not grateful enough, as though they owe us some idolatry (that should only be reserved for God).
This weekend God gave me a glaring example of this kind of righteous, cheerless giving.
My husband and I were volunteering at a local food distribution for the needy. We were posted in the area where the food recipients could collect their canned goods and turkeys. In explaining the procedures for distributing the food, our team leader stated that every family was eligible for a frozen turkey but before we packed it in their cart we had to check to make sure that they actually wanted one.
At this point, another volunteer piped up saying, “I don’t know why you would turn down a turkey. If I was in their position, I’d take whatever people were willing to give me.”
I had to bite my tongue to avoid retorting. We are here to help give food to people who don’t have enough to eat and you want to criticize them for not taking a 10 pound turkey?
I can think of a multitude of reasons why someone wouldn’t or couldn’t take a turkey. 1) It would make their cart too heavy to walk the 3 mile journey back home (Yes, there were in fact people who walked miles in 90 degree heat to get this food). 2) They don’t have a freezer large enough for a turkey so instead of wasting it, they would rather leave it for someone else. 3) It’s too heavy for them to cook. (Remember, a lot of these people were elderly folks. I can’t see my 80 year old grandma juggling a huge turkey). 4) They don’t have the facilities to cook a turkey. 5) Maybe they are vegetarians (because despite being hungry you are still allowed to follow your ethics and morals).
The list goes on and on.
But whether these people had a logical reason to turn down the turkey is irrelevant. The fact is that as Christians who are giving back we are supposed to do it in a cheerful way and that means not judging those we are serving.
Can you imagine if Christ decided that the only way he would give his life for us would be if we proved to him that we deserved it?
It simply never would have happened.
Because the fact of the matter is we don’t deserve anything. Everything we have is given to us by the grace of God.
I should be thanking the people I’m serving for allowing me to witness God’s grace.
I should be thanking them for making it easier for us to serve them.
Because what they deserve is to have is a home cooked meal in my house. But all we could provide that day was unprepared food in bags that they stood in line for hours to get and then had to carry home in the unforgiving heat.
The point of giving and serving should not be self righteousness or gratification. It should be our way of showing God how thankful we are for the grace that he has given us.
Thanks be to God for his abundant grace.