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Caring for Others: The Act of Giving

September 1, 2012

One of my favorite stories in the bible can be found in Mark 12:41-44 as well as Luke 21:1-4. This is the story of The Widow’s Offering, and I find it to be one of the most powerful instances of caring for others found in the Bible (apart from Jesus’ own sacrifice of course). In it, Jesus sat by the treasury in the temple, watching the people cast their tithes into the offering box. Many of them were rich, and gave generously, but in the midst of this came a poor widow, who cast in two “mites”. The mite was worth about one-eighth of a cent and the coin itself was so small that the stamping on it was barely legible. The two mites that she cast in were the last two mites she had, leaving her with nothing. Jesus then praises her above all for her sacrifice. For as much as the rich had given, this woman gave all that she had. Jesus said that “this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury”. This is because she gave “all that she had, even all her living“. Her faith in the Lord was so strong, that she cared not at all for herself, but only for others. She knew, without doubt, that the Lord would provide for her, that she didn’t have to worry about herself. She cared enough for others to give everything she had, without regret, without hesitation. And in return, she is praised by Jesus Himself! What a wonderful gift to receive in light of her sacrifice!

This particular story is not the only time we see Jesus teaching us the spiritual gifts of giving. In fact, the scriptures are rife with passages about the caring of others rather than oneself. And through these verses, we see that the caring of others will grant us many powerful gifts! We are rewarded for our selfless behavior in ways that we may not even be able to imagine! Today, I want to talk about caring for others. Caring for others is essential to our walk with God. It is one of the primary doctrines that He teaches. And it is also one of the hardest for many of us to do. Even the most caring person can give in to selfishness without even realizing it. In the end, it all comes down to that popular saying: “treat others as you yourself would like to be treated”. For Jesus tells us: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34). This post will be the first of many on this particular subject. Today’s posting will be about the simple act of giving.

Caring for others is something that many of us struggle with. I know that I do. For many of us, the concept boils down to just one thing. That caring and doing for others implies that I have to give something of my own in order to be considered caring. And while that isn’t far off, unfortunately, most of us think that we have to give things like money, food, clothing, shelter, any number of material things that someone who is poor or down on their luck might need. And while these are all fantastic things to give, it obviously isn’t possible for the poor and downtrodden to give like this. You might respond by saying: “wait a minute! Why would the poor give anything at all? Isn’t the point to be giving and caring about those in need?”  But God does not ask only the rich to give, as you can see by reading the story in Mark above. God doesn’t make it a point that only the rich must give to the poor. He asks us all to give to each other, just as the poor widow gave in the story. I’ve learned over time, that as bad as it may seem for me, it is always worse for someone else. And just because I’m poor, doesn’t mean that I can’t give freely. One of the greatest things we can give each other is our time. Everyone, even the rich have a need.

As an example, I have a story to share. My wife and I were given a test recently when God decided to bring someone into our lives. It was a test that we failed, unfortunately. We don’t have a car, so we were walking to the grocery store one night at about two in the morning (we’re night owls). We are blessed that many of the amenities that we need are within walking distance of our room. However, on the way back, we have to walk up this incredibly steep hill, which when you are carrying groceries, is a bit of a chore. On the way up, a car was coming down the hill, a yellow mustang convertible. The car passed us and kept going, and we kept trudging our way up the hill with our twelve packs of soda and two or three bags of groceries. Soon, that same yellow convertible drove up behind us and the lady inside offered us a ride up the hill and home, which we graciously accepted. Her name was Susan and she was a disabled war veteran, discharged from the Navy after her term of service. She was very animated, very talkative, and had a sailor mouth on her almost worse than my own (something else I struggle with constantly). She excelled at making my wife and I, who are relatively quiet, peaceful, unsociable people, extremely uncomfortable. We thanked her for the ride and I thanked her especially as it was my first ride in a convertible. Throughout the rest of the night, Susan brought us food, job applications, apartment booklets, even a big bouquet of flowers and left them outside our door. She disappeared before we could thank her, but she had left her number for us, and we knew where she lived, which was also within walking distance of our room.

This was a very generous and giving person! Can you guess why God brought her into our lives? We had one more interaction with Susan, and it was the last we had. She let us use her car so that I could go to my daughter’s school to get her registered for the new school year. She rode with us a ways, telling us some more about her. And through her stories, we could feel that what she wanted most was companionship, friendship, just someone to talk to and hang out with. Needless to say, after returning her car, we never saw her again. And the reason for this is because we simply didn’t make the effort. We failed in what God had wanted us to do.

God excels in taking us out of our comfort zones and putting us into situations that while difficult, prepare us to become better Christians and better people. He brought that woman into our lives so that we could, in return, give our time to her. We were in no position to give anything else. We couldn’t give her money, food, or clothing, but those things weren’t what she NEEDED. What she needed was our time, our attention. We failed to do that, we failed to leave our comfort zone and face an uncomfortable situation that would have led to a more fulfilling, more spiritual and blessed lifestyle. Instead, we cared only for ourselves, focused on our own discomfort with social interactions and retreated into ourselves, costing us our chance at caring and giving to others. We failed to remember that God never said that life would be easy. In fact, He spoke the opposite entirely. Jesus spoke: “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34). Jesus took up his cross and he carried it all the way to Calvary to be crucified. It was not an easy journey on Him, and so taking up our own cross is not meant to be an easy journey on us. If we spend our lives living in our comfort zones, if we spend our lives in a constant state of contentment then we are not carrying our cross. Matthew 10:38 tells us: “And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.” Those of us that stay in our comfort zones are not following after Jesus. 

Caring for others and giving to others is one essential part of carrying your cross, it is one essential part of following Jesus, and it is one essential part in living a fulfilling and rich life. We must be vigilant to the needs of others! We must be pleasant in our interactions with others, we must let go of hatred, enmity, jealousy, and greed! And we must step out of that comfort zone we always find ourselves in. We have to be willing to work toward God’s will. Acts 20:35 tells us thus: I have showed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Though it may be difficult, though it may at times be uncomfortable, giving is more blessed than receiving! The blessings bestowed upon us far outweigh whatever it was that we gave! You should never hesitate to give what you have! God will take care of the rest FOR you! “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7) This means to have a willing heart, to have a sincere desire to give and offer yourself to others! Just as Proverbs 22:9 tells us: “He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.” A bountiful eye means to have a generous eye! It means to be vigilant about caring for others and seeing to their needs! And by doing so, you will be blessed! Just as the poor widow in the story above was blessed by Jesus Himself!

My next posting will be related to this one. I want to talk about prayer, mostly about praying for others. This is another way we can be giving and caring for others, and we’ll use the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6 as a template. I hope this has been helpful to you, and I hope to see you next time! Peace be with you all, Amen!

And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:8).

Published by Jay McAnally
Copyright © 2012
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