Will you share with Daddy?
Our daughter Rachel loved goldfish crackers as a small child. (Who doesn’t? I just bought a Costco carton for myself…about a million goldfish in each one, I believe.)
One day as she was munching contentedly on her crackers, I thought I’d test the strength of her generosity muscle. “Rachel, will you share with Daddy?” Nothing. “Rachel, can Daddy have a goldfish?” Nope. In fact, she curved her hand around the remaining pile and clawed it closer to herself, protectively. “Come on, Rachel…can’t Daddy have just ONE fishy?” “No,” she finally said, clearly…definitively…and disappointingly, I must admit.
So many thoughts went through my mind in this parenting moment. “You wouldn’t HAVE goldfish if I didn’t give them to you! I BOUGHT those goldfish. And if I want one of your goldfish, I’ll take it from you….and there’s nothing you can do about it but cry!”
Of course, I said none of those things. And honestly, I don’t recall how the incident ended. I THINK she finally shared a single, stinking goldfish with me…but I’m not sure. (I’m pleased, however, to say that she has grown to be a very generous woman.)
But this moment DID cause me to reflect on my relationship of giving to my heavenly Abba. Everything I have is a gift from God. “My” money is merely on loan from God; my possessions are his kind and gracious gifts. And OBVIOUSLY, he doesn’t need a cent from me to go about the work of his Kingdom. Whether I am generous with him…or whether I curve my hand around my wealth and draw it protectively to myself…God’s not going to go hungry tonight. And his mission will not be thwarted.
God doesn’t ask me to give because he needs my money. God asks me to give in order to grow my gratitude-heart; to help me remember in a tangible way how generous He has been to me. God asks me to give out of my gratitude for his kindness to me…and offers me the opportunity…the privilege…of participating in his Kingdom work.
I was raised by a dad who tithed faithfully. (A “tithe” means 10 percent…the first 10 percent of what we make. It is the Biblical minimum standard for giving.) I learned from my earthly father that my gift back to my heavenly father was the first check I wrote (in the days when we wrote checks!) I married a formerly Mormon girl who also learned to tithe in her family (only in her case, the church officials reviewed your tax returns to insure you were giving the required 10 percent! Our elders don’t do that!) We have always been a tithing family.
But OUR journey of generosity as a couple was to learn to give BEYOND the tithe…beyond a legalistic minimum. And more recently, our journey of generosity has caused us to set up a trust through which we intend to leave a significant portion of our estate to Chapel Hill upon our demise. We’d like to be at least as generous in death as we’ve tried to be in life.
For our part, our entire journey of generosity has always been an answer to God’s question to us, “Child, will you share with me? Not because I need it. Not because my work will be stymied without it. But because you are grateful for what I’ve given you and want to respond generously.”
How about you? That pile of fishies you are hoarding in front of you…are you willing to give back some of them to your Heavenly Father? This Sunday, as we conclude our series on “Mastering Your Money” (with two very poignant stories), I pray…and ask…and challenge you to consider taking YOUR next step in your journey of generosity. For the sake of your generous Abba!
P.S.—While I have your attention, I want to personally invite you to consider coming to GLOW. This is a really important outreach event we host every year for Christmas. We sing a lot of upbeat Christmas music accompanied by an incredible light show and featuring a few surprises! This year, we’re doing TWO GLOW shows…one for kids and their families at 4:00 pm, and one for older students (middle school, high school) and adults at 7:00 pm. I’m planning to attend with my family, and I want to encourage you to invite others to attend with you. There is a fantastic website where you can reserve tickets. We’ve heard so many stories about people who had no experience with church and then came to GLOW, and then to Alpha, and ultimately joined the church. See you there!