Giving until it hurts, or until it feels good?
This was the theme of Lee’s sermon this weekend. He preached about extravagant generosity and how we can put God first through living that type of lifestyle. He even told a story about our family and a 150% tip for an underpaid, overworked server at a breakfast restaurant.
And, as usual, I sat in worship and vowed to put God first. And, here it is – the time of year of Thanksgiving. Truly, a time to be thankful and to share our blessings.
But, I didn’t go about it the right way. Not even close.
I spent yesterday morning at home with an awesome bug one of my kids had shared with me. To get something accomplished during my down time, I went through my Thanksgiving menu, checked the pantry for spices, and made my grocery list. With eight side dishes and four pies, there were a lot of sticks of butter and ½ cups of sugar to add up. My grocery list is huge and extravagant. I want to make this a special meal because it is a unique year.
We’re doing our Thanksgiving family meal a bit different this year. Because both of my parents are now gone and Lee’s family lives a far distance away or tailgates at the UT football game, we plan to have our family Thanksgiving gathering on Friday. As Lee and I planned this, we thought, “Why don’t we do something else on Thursday?”
So, Lee offered to look into volunteer possibilities for us. The primary meal for the needy in Round Rock is served at St. Williams Catholic Church. Lee talked with the organizer of the meal and was told volunteers were used to serve the meal to several hundred people and to deliver meals to the homebound. He was also told the church prepared the turkeys and we could bring a side dish “if we wanted to….”
Well, sure, I’ll bring a side dish. What could I make that would be easy that I could throw into a metal disposable pan? Maybe some mashed potatoes? I don’t make that at home, but it wouldn’t require any expensive spices or a lot of prep time. Just a bag of potatoes and a little milk and butter.
I’ll add that to my multi-page grocery list. No problem. That’s an easy one.
Just a bag of potatoes and little milk and butter? Wow. I pulled out that extravagant grocery list and realized my idea of giving wasn’t even close to one of thankfulness, much less generosity. And I certainly wasn’t giving until it felt good. I was giving out of obligation or to make myself look good – I didn’t want to show up to help without a dish of some type in my hands.
I am now determined that our contribution will no longer be as little as a 5 pound bag of white potatoes. To give until it feels good, our giving must be more like sweet potatoes with a brown sugar and pecan strudel topping. It should be share what we love, not what is easy. It should be to follow Jesus’ greatest commandment, to love God and to love people.
Since I first joined Facebook, I have participated in the Thirty Days of Thankfulness. I tried to do it again this year, but it just didn’t flow right. I truly believe because I am so overwhelmed with thoughts of thanksgiving this year, I really can’t put it into words. So, to sum it up, I am thankful. And blessed.
In Paul’s second letter to Corinth, he said, “You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous in every way. Such generosity produces thanksgiving to God through us.” (2 Corinthians 9:11, CEB).
(Note: for Central Texans, donations to Annie’s Way meal at St. William’s Catholic church can be taken to the church parish hall on Thanksgiving morning. They are located at 620 Round Rock West Drive.)