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How to Keep Giving When the World's On Fire

“Since you excel in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you — see that you also excel in this grace of giving.” 2 Corinthians 8:7

As I have walked as a child of God the past 30 years of my life, and a pastor these last 25, I’ve noticed a troubling pattern among us when it comes to gratitude and generosity:

We tend to let our circumstances define our perspective and our practices. But, as followers of Jesus, we are invited to let HIS perspective refine our practices, despite our circumstances.

Stop and read that again.

Here’s the way it usually plays out in my life: when things around me are favorable (there is money in the bank, people treat me with kindness, I’m killing it at my responsibilities, I am enjoying good physical/emotional/spiritual health, etc), I find myself ‘feeling' grateful, and prone to express generosity.

But…on the many days I am facing less than ideal conditions (there’s no money in the bank, people fail to treat me kindly, I’m crumbling under my responsibilities, I face an obstacle in my health), I tend to turn everything inward in an attempt to escape my discomfort and right the ship from whatever I deem the problem. It’s easy to respond in shame (it’s my fault), blame (it’s your fault), or doubting God’s name (it’s His fault). And it's easy to get stuck there, hijacking all of the attention and resources around me to play ‘assistant Messiah.’

I’ve heard it said that our spiritual lives are like a sponge. When we’re in a place of rest and aren’t being agitated by outside forces, all of us look pretty healthy. But when we get pressed, the stuff that’s really going on in us comes out. In 2 Corinthians 8, the Apostle Paul wrote to the first century Church during a time of great pressing:

“We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints.” 2 Corinthians 8:1-4

They faced:

  • Severe Tests of Affliction (the phrase refers to a fire that removes dross and refines gold; here, through the ‘heat’ of tremendous pressure and opposition).

  • Extreme Poverty (the state of being completely destitute of riches or resources).

Yet, they didn’t respond in shame, blame, or doubting God’s name, but instead paused to AIM their efforts to a different destination entirely. When their world was on fire, they responded not in grumbling, but in a gratitude and generosity that resulted in overflowing joy. What made the difference? They understood and embraced the GRACE of giving. Here’s how Kingdom math works:

Overflowing Affliction + Overflowing Poverty + Overflowing Grace from God

= A Wealth of Generosity and Joy.

In the middle of their storms and the mystery of everywhere they found themselves living somewhere between their dreams and their destiny, they chose to let God’s perspective speak loudest until it refined their attitudes and their actions.

This is the “grace of giving” in action. Every moment we choose to see God’s grace to us in our present circumstance is an unending deluge of blessing, we begin to see that our ‘overflowing affliction and poverty’ is nothing more than a puddle we are invited to jump through with Him as we experience His faithful love all around us. He has been good, and He can be no other. He is Goodness itself.

When we remember how deeply we are being held, our ONLY response is to surrender to the ridiculous joy of gratitude, which leads us to give within and beyond our means. Here’s 3 quick ways we can keep giving when our world’s on fire:

1. Get your circumstances off the throne.

Why are you discouraged? Afraid? Anxious? Whatever that thing is, it wants you to believe it is in charge. Take a moment right now to shift from complaining to God about your circumstances to calling your circumstances to bow before your God.

2. Choose a heart-shift in the midst of your hardship.

Jesus is the only treasure that will ever satisfy the longings of your heart. And right now, He is YOURS. “I am my beloved’s and He is mine.” Forever. He will never leave you. He could never forsake you. Right now, receive the GRACE He extends and ask for Him to change your perspective.

3. Take the Next Step God is Setting Before You.

God’s Word to us is a lamp to our feet and a light to our paths. Ancient lamps weren’t floodlights to light the whole field. They simply showed the next few steps. That’s walking with the Spirit. Banish every confidence that comes from self-reliance on how well you can control your circumstances and simply ask God where He is inviting you to join Him on the road. He’s already pleased and overflowing in love for you. That’s your destiny too.

Take heart. The world may be on fire, but you’re being led out and refined by the very Light of the World.

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Great words on giving! Well said and so true.

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