Tuesday, July 17, 2012

How to Give Something When You Have Nothing

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/
What if your phone rang and the person on the other end was asking you to give them something? Something you didn't have. Nothing elaborate or expensive, just a mattress.

This is a true story about a need, a desire to help and a computer. The names have been changed to protect the innocent. (I've always wanted to say that.)

Valerie is a friend of mine who has a big heart and loves to help people. I've learned that if you ever have something you want prayed over, she's the person to call. When Valerie prays, you almost feel like breaking the rules and peeping to see where Jesus is standing because she talks to Him as if He's right in front of her...well He is, you know.

One afternoon, Valerie's phone rang and a stranger was on the other end of the call. Not a complete stranger, but a lady she had recently met. We'll call her Sue. Sue was in a bind. Turns out one of Sue's children needed a place to sleep other than the floor. Sue was asking Valerie if she had an extra mattress or knew of someone who did. Sue figured if she could just get a mattress it would be better than sleeping on the floor. Valerie loves to help people, but she was very limited in what she could do. She was unemployed. A victim of a recession-driven downsize, Valerie found herself barely able to keep the power on and food on the table.

How does a person who has almost nothing give something?

This reminds me of similar story in the Bible. Acts 3 opens with a story about a group of people going to church. It's crowded as they make their way to worship. You can hear children laughing while zig-zaging through the crowd as if it's a game of Hide and Seek, while moms call for them not to get too far away. You hear a quiet rumble among the men as they are likely discussing a resurgence of the band of Jesus followers. The soldiers had just crucified Jesus on a cross. Surely the whole movement would have fade away, but His followers had regrouped and were continuing to share His message with others. In fact, two of them, Peter and John, are among this crowd headed to worship.

Another sound that lingers in the background is a cry for help. It appears that the local beggars are "crowd-sourcing" as they know where the people are on Sundays. They have lined the path to the church to ask for help. One particular beggar who had never walked was positioned on the ground every day at the temple gate. As Peter and John made their way to the temple this beggar looked directly at them and asked for money.

Peter responded, "I don't have a nickel to my name, but what I do have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!" (The Message) You can read the rest of the story here.

This is where Valerie found herself. Sue was asking for help but she didn't have the funds to respond. And while she may have been short on funds, she was rich in the love of Jesus Christ. Which explains why her prayers sound as if He is her best friend. Like Peter, she didn't have a nickel to her name, but also like Peter, she fell back on what she did have. Where Peter said, "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk," Valerie responded with "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, I have Christian friends and a computer."

Valerie logged on to a social media site and did her own crowd-sourcing. She shared Sue's need for a mattress and in a matter of hours, she had a mattress, a bed, bed linens and a comfort set. Valarie had leveraged her influence and her relationships built around Jesus Christ to meet Sue's need. She was able to give something when she had "nothing."

So how can we do the same?

"Generosity is about giving away what is on the outside in order to discover who we really are on the inside." - Click Here to Tweet

Make sure you are connected to the master giver, Jesus Christ.
  • John 15:13 reads, “No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.” If your generosity is not driven by your connection to Him, then it’s just for show. It’s an attempt to feel good about yourself and it completely misses the point.

Remember He owns everything
  • Yours, O Lord, is... everything that is in the heavens and the earth... who am I and who are my people that we should be able to offer as generously as this? For all things come from You, and from Your hand we have given You. For we are sojourners before You, and tenants... all this abundance that we have provided to build You a house for Your holy name, it is from Your hand, and all is Yours (1 Chronicles 29:11,14-16).

See your life as a conduit
  • Conduit is pipe that is used to move a resource from one location to another. Typically it’s liquid or wire in a building. That is how you need to see your life. We all need to be conduits for all that God has placed in our possession. Whatever God has given you (because He owns everything), it’s there for you to use for His glory. That may be to keep and utilize in some way to help others or to give away to someone who needs it more than you.

Ease the grip
  • If you keep a tight grip on all that you have, then how will you be able to receive more? If I have $100 clinched in my hand, the only way I can receive more is by easing the grip to open my hand. Even a dog understands an open hand.

Yield to obedience
  • Giving can be a litmus test for your relationship with God through Jesus Christ. When we become more consumed with knowing Him and less of Him knowing us, we will find ourselves in a very special place. It’s not about feeling good about ourselves. In fact, according to Jeff Goins, if we are sincere with our giving, we should walk away feeling worse or as he calls it, wrecked.

Generosity is less about a bank balance and more about an attitude. It’s not about what we can do to feel better about ourselves. It’s actually about giving ourselves away in order to find ourselves and the motives of our heart. Don’t allow what you don’t have to keep you from giving what you do you have…YOU and your influence.

How have you leveraged your influence to help someone?


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