Feature

The Joy of Giving

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One of my favorite experiences as a father was Christmas shopping when my children were young. We would divide up—I would take one child and my wife would take the other two—and then run through the store, trying to keep the presents hidden from the other members of the family. The excitement on the children’s faces was priceless as they gave up what little money they had for that perfect gift. As they grew up and became more excited about giving, Christmas morning was even more meaningful—the children seemed to be more interested in watching others open their gifts than they were in opening their own. The joy of giving became a foundation for them for the rest of their lives.

Another memory is imprinted on my brain—a reunion with my wife’s family several decades ago. These gatherings had been few and far between because my wife’s relatives were spread around the world. We managed to find a summer when everyone was in the United States at the same time, but one of the families, just back from the field and awaiting placement in a church, was “homeless.” As the extended family members prayed for each other, my then nine-year-old son pulled on my sleeve. “Dad,” he said, “I have $20 that I want to give to my aunt and uncle.” It was all the money he had in the world, but he wanted it to go to someone who needed it more.

This story doesn’t end with him finding $20 on the side of the road or getting a check in the mail for $30. What replaced the money he gave was the knowledge that he had done the right and loving thing. 2 Corinthians 9:7 states, “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” My son didn’t give to get; he gave to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion but out of a heart of compassion and love for those he saw doing what God had called them to do. Nothing could have replaced the joy he felt.

In my position here in the National Office, I get to hear from people who have the same heart I saw in my son all those years ago. Weekly, I have the privilege of talking to people from all across the country who derive great joy from financially supporting the C&MA in the United States and around the world. “Dennis,” an Alliance layperson in the Midwest told me, “I love the idea behind the Great Commission Fund, and my wife and I want to do as much as we can to help The Alliance around the world. It brings us tremendous joy to be a part of the C&MA.”

I have sat across the table from people who see their part in pushing back the darkness as a call to giving. I have been encouraged as I meet pastors and international workers who often support other pastors and workers with their gifts; I have met laypeople who can’t go overseas but have taken the responsibility of supporting an international worker couple or project even though it means they themselves will have to do with less. I have met others who give out of their abundance and do so with joy and humility.

What a privilege we all have to take part in the great work that is being accomplished through the ministries of The Christian and Missionary Alliance. Like the Corinthian believers, “[t]his service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else” (2 Cor. 9:12–13).

2 Corinthians 8:11–12 states, “Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.” May the joy that accompanies giving to the Lord’s work be yours now and forever.

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