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Christian Living

Finance

More Than Just Money

thanksgiving-turkey

I love the Thanksgiving holiday. Even the word makes me smile. It combines two of my favorite words. As the father of three little girls (age 8, 5, and 3), I certainly prefer “thank you,” but “thanks” will do. And “giving” is my favorite financial term.

There are three basic things you can do with money: You can spend it, save it, or give it away. Of those three choices, giving wins hands down as far as providing long-lasting joy. 

When the apostle Paul wrote his epistle to the church at Rome, he urged Christians living there to offer themselves to God in view of God’s mercy. In fact, Paul spent the first 11 chapters of this letter explaining how great God’s mercy had been, not only for the Jews whom he had liberated from slavery in Egypt and given his law but also for all mankind, whom he had freed from bondage to sin and misery.

Only after explaining that God himself “did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all” (Romans 8:32) did Paul make his sweeping appeal for sacrificial obedience through the many commands that begin with Romans 12:1: “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice-the kind he will accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask?”

The fundamental thrust of Paul’s commands is that we should love God and our neighbor unconditionally. He goes on to describe a number of particular ways in which we are to practice sacrifice and stewardship in view of God’s mercy. In the context of the early Roman church, this especially included learning to practice God’s love in cross-cultural relationships (between Jews and Gentiles, Greeks and Latins, etc.). Additionally, our obligations within the Christian community call us to think of ourselves with “sober judgment” (Romans 12:3), humbly using the gifts we have been given “according to the grace given us” (Romans 12:6).

Whatever our particular gift may be, we must be diligent in the way that we use it. As Paul said, “If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, do a good job of teaching. If your gift is to encourage others, do it! If you have money, share it generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly” (Romans 12:7-8). Regardless of what our particular gifts may be, we are to use them “in view of God’s mercy” because all that we have is ours only because of “the grace given us.”

When God’s commands are received “in view of God’s mercy,” they no longer are impossible to obey. Because God is so good to us, how can we not share with others who are in need?

Giving is great because there are so many ways to do it. Often when we think of giving, we think only in monetary terms. But some of the best gifts are acts of kindness. Maybe you know someone who is away from home for Thanksgiving. Consider inviting them to your house to share a meal.

Each of us has something to offer to someone in need. We can give our money and our time to charity, be a friend to someone who is sick or lonely, do volunteer work, or be a peacemaker. We may give unselfishly of our time to our spouse, children, or parents. We may choose a service-oriented occupation, or we may just do our everyday jobs with integrity and respect for others.

It would seem that the more we give to others, the poorer we become, but just the opposite is true! Service to others brings meaning and fulfillment to our lives in a way that wealth, power, possessions, and self-centered pursuits can never match. And that is something to be thankful for.

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