Backward Giving

It was the only time I saw my daughter cry during our family mission trip to Mexico. Our assignment that day was to visit one of the poorest families in the church. Marta was a single mom and the sole provider for her mother and five children. They lived in a one-room cinderblock house the size of my kitchen and living room. Until a team from the states had built their home, all seven of them had lived in a one-room shack made of thick corrugated cardboard walls and a tin roof.

When we arrived, all five of the children met us by the side of the dirt road where they had been waiting for hours. They were neatly dressed in their Sunday clothes. Pati, the youngest child and only girl, had her shiny dark hair carefully braided and tied with two ribbons. After the introductions were made, each child shyly approached us with gifts. Pati presented her gift to my youngest daughter. She handed her a carefully washed piece of fruit neatly wrapped in a napkin.

Knowing that these children had very little to eat, my daughter looked at me with wide eyes. “Mom!” she whispered, “I can’t take this! What if it’s all they have?”

“Take it,” I encouraged her. “They care more about giving it to you than keeping it for themselves.” That night I held her as she cried. We all cried as we talked about how humbling it was to be the recipients of such sacrificial gifts

American Christians, myself included, approach giving like this, “If I have enough money left over after I pay my bills and meet my family’s needs, I will give.” Philippians 4:19 seems to support this. “And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” That is until you read the context. Earlier in the chapter, Paul talks about how the Philippian church had been the only church to sacrificially give to meet his needs. He called their gifts “fragrant offering(s), acceptable sacrifice(s), and pleasing to God.”

It is only AFTER Paul commends them for their sacrificial giving does he issue the promise: “AND (because you have given to me FIRST), my God will meet all your needs.” We American Christians have it backward. The reason God gives to us is not so every need of ours will be satisfied, but so we can give to others. The late Pastor E.V. Hill, speaking to the congregation of the Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Watts, Los Angeles, put it this way, “When GAAWD blesses you, he don’t even have you in mind!”

Will you join me in trusting God enough to give sacrificially?

1 comment:

  1. Dear Lori,
    Just talked with Heidi this morning about the alabaster bottle. I'm so proud of you for doing this. The Lord has blessed you with wisdom, insight, and a gift for writing!
    I love you,