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Friday, January 25, 2013

Selfless Giving

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood” (Isaiah 58:6-7, NIV)?

These verses in Isaiah instruct me to “fast” my own desires and to do whatever I can for those in pain and in despair: to help those chained up in poverty―to help those struggling to break the yoke of sin―to share with those accused unjustly―to provide respite for those with no place of rest. I am called to give myself away, but for my giving to be pleasing to God, my motive must be right. Both fasting and giving involve personal sacrifice. Fasting imparts spiritual vision to recognize need. Giving blesses not only the person who receives, but the one who gives.

“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 6:3-4, NIV).

Have you ever known someone who makes a public announcement following an act of kindness or giving a gift? He appears to be altruistic, but he yearns for the recognition his act brings. In bringing attention to himself, he demonstrates selfish giving instead of selfless giving from a humble heart.

Why does a person need to declare he has given a gift? Why must he relate its value? He hungers for the recognition of man, and doesn’t consider that God wishes his hunger to be just for Him. Not only has this person missed the fact that giving in secret brings God’s reward, he misses another truth. When he quietly gives, he empties more than his pocketbook. He empties himself of the need for acceptance. Giving without recognition is not only an acquired trait. To be spiritually real and rewarded, it must always be spiritually fueled.

Do I give away my time and my money openly or secretly? Where does my acceptance lie? The Lord yearns for the lesson to take root in my heart. In selfless giving I spiritually receive a servant’s heart. Most importantly, I learn the greatest paradox of all―to die to self is to live unselfishly in Christ.

Now I can read the promise that follows in from Isaiah 58:8-9a. “Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I” (Isaiah 58:6-8, NIV).

Don't ever give to receive recognition from others. Give always to receive from Him.

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