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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

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 two verses in Isaiah 58 give instruction to “fast” (let go of) my own desires and to do whatever I can for those who are hurting―to help those chained up in poverty―to help those struggling to break the burden of sin―to share with those accused unjustly―to provide a place of rest for those in turmoil. I am called to fast what I consider my own needs, and give away my “comfort” for the sake of someone in need. However, for my giving to be pleasing to God, my motive must also be right. I don't give because I am compelled. I give out of my love for Him. I give because He gave himself for me.
“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). I have known people who make a public announcement following an act of kindness or giving a gift. They appear to be altruistic, but in bringing attention to themselves, they reveal giving that has selfish motives. Perhaps they hunger for the recognition of man, and don't understand that God wishes their hunger to be just for Him. Not only have they missed the fact that giving in secret brings God’s reward, they miss another truth. When they quietly give, they empty more than their pocketbook. They empty themselves of the need for acceptance.
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 receive the humble heart of a servant. I learn the truth of a great paradox―to die to myself is to live the greatest fulfillment in Christ.
Lord, help me to never give in order to receive recognition from others. If I give joyfully and sacrificially from a surrendered, and cheerful heart, my life will be fulfilled and blessed―not because I have given in order to receive, but because I have given out of your love. A promise follows, Lord, in the next few verses in Isaiah 58. I am so thankful for this promise. It is that reward Matthew writes of...the one that I will receive when I give myself away in secret. “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). Lord, in giving, I receive you.

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