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Must I be giving again?

 

“You know what you should write about?” my friend said. “You should write about giving. Tithing. Stewardship.”

Abba, my mind, heart, and fingers can’t keep up with the flood of inspiration from you, and here comes a friend, adding to the deluge of ideas, thoughts, and messages. I wanted to dismiss it. But the request came from you; it wouldn’t be denied, despite my efforts.

We approach the season of giving, the season of charity. Peace and good will.

Suddenly, our mailboxes are flooded with letters from a host of charitable organizations -- agencies that offer food, aid children, assist the aged, give to families in underdeveloped countries... The list is endless. There are so many needs, a flood of requests for our help. Here at home, we are asked to give -- whether from our pockets or of our time and skills -- to help meet the needs in our parishes and congregations, in our towns and counties, to help heat homes, give food, fix roofs, or donate coats, gifts, or pajamas.

Can what little we’re able to give make a difference? The need is almost overwhelming!

We may be tempted to draw back, to say we can’t possibly give any more. After all, what difference would my little bit make?

It is then that the still, small voice deep within reminds me:

“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” (Luke 6:37-38).

We cannot outgive you, loving Lord. From the spark of life within us to the minds and hearts that attempt to resist this call to give, to the blessings of material things, talents, and time, “all good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change” (James 1:17).

You give, even when we don’t deserve it. You give us life, breath, time, love, companions, a world that brings forth food to nourish our bodies, shelter on this earth, your Word to refresh, renew, and strengthen us. Your Son to atone for our wrongs.

How can we not give? How can we not dig deeper, to share in some small way the outpouring of abundance from the Giver of life and love?

One of my dearest friends -- I think I’ve known him the longest of anyone, other than family members -- shared this poem, found on his grandmother’s desk after she passed away. She’d been a lifelong giver -- had raised a family, was a city secretary for many years (in the days when the minutes were taken in shorthand and transcribed), and volunteered in the community until she passed away. Fragile and dog-eared as the paper bearing the poem was, the words on the page rang out -- and still do -- with incredible power:

“Go give to the needy sweet charity’s bread.

For giving is living,” the angel said.

“And must I be giving again and again?”

My peevish, petulant answer ran.

“Oh, no,” said the angel, piercing me through,

“just give till the Master stops giving to you.”

 
 
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