I’m in the middle of watching a Christmas movie where a struggling photographer wins a contest.  Rather than use the substantial prize money for himself even though he needs it badly, he decides instead to play a Secret Santa role and help out a number of needy people in his community.  He demonstrates great empathy for people and becomes aware of many whose needs are even greater than his own. 

He starts a trend.  Soon multiple people are paying for purchases of others and helping those in need.  His giving attitude is infectious.  He shows that the best gifts are those where you don’t expect anything back.  The rewards he gets from his giving are those of the happiness and joy he sees in the recipients and the general change in attitude in his community.  The wonder and excitement invigorate him and all those around.

Interestingly, my reading in the Gospel of Matthew this morning talks about giving.  “Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them.  If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven…But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.  Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”  (Matthew 6: 1, 3-4 NIV) 

Jesus is speaking about similar rewards to that of the movie mentioned above.  Our sincere giving is not to gain prestige or brownie points.  True giving is selfless and reaching out into the hearts and needs of others.  It is bestowing things on others when no one is looking to pat you on the back and say “good job”.  Making a difference is what matters, not self-gain.

But, you are wondering, how do I have a giving spirit in the middle of this pandemic when there are days when you are challenged to manage yourself?  It’s definitely time for some out of the box thinking.  All our creativity needs to come into play to find ways to reach out and give to those less fortunate or in temporary challenging conditions.

Thankfully we can share the love of Christ no matter what the circumstances.  There are many who can use a cheering up.  Phone calls and video chats, emails and letters, all let others know that they are not alone in these trying times.  Being available is an incredible gift.  

There are many things we can do for our families, neighbours, and communities.  Maybe not our usual volunteering or gift giving, but if we really give it some thought there is so much we can offer in God’s service.  Buying groceries for a family in quarantine, checking in on your pastor and his family, sharing old toys and games to families who can’t get out for play dates, creating care packages for nurses, …the list is endless.    

You will benefit immeasurably from giving of your heart and means to those who need it. True selfless giving from the heart, reaps eternal rewards.  Don’t mistake that to mean that we do good things to earn salvation – that isn’t true as salvation is the free gift of God.  What it does mean is that we will see benefits from our giving that go beyond the here and now, often having far reaching implications that we cannot even envision.

We grow in character and in faith as we reach out to others.  Rather than holding onto possessions selfishly, we think about those who might benefit from our sharing what God graciously provides us.   The time, talents, and treasures we possess all can be used to God’s glory in His kingdom.

Prayerfully consider who God needs you to reach out to today.  Ask Him to give you the means and the opportunity to share your bounty with others, whether this abundance is physical things or spiritual things.

The movie I watched ended with this quote:

“The gift is to the giver – it comes back most to him…it cannot fail.”

Walt Whitman

These are definitely important words to consider.

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