Friday, October 22, 2010


I believe that the Holy Spirit has been trying to teach me a lesson about generosity. I've always had a question in the back of my mind of when to be tight with my money and when to give freely, but now I believe I have new understanding of how to respond in one more borderline case. Here's the story:
Many times people come through our neighborhood looking for work. They offer to mow the grass, rake the leaves, shovel the snow, or whatever else needs to be done. I think I said ok once, but most of the time, I tell them no. I've always felt uneasy about turning them away, because it is apparent that they desperately want the employment. My husband would confirm my decisions to turn them away, saying that he didn't think we should be spending our money to have our yard work done. We try to use our money frugally, so I thought that maybe my rejection of the "day-laborers" was warranted under the principle of stewardship and wisdom in spending our resources. But my soul never had peace about my decisions to turn the workers away.
Well, last week I had another opportunity before me to hire someone to rake our leaves. I explained that my son and I like to rake the leaves into a pile so he can play in them, and the man said that he would gladly rake them into a big pile at the bottom of the hill. Then (making another excuse to justify turning him away) I noticed that we didn't have that many leaves in our yard yet, so I said that we didn't need him to rake the leaves this time. He said, with disappointment in his eyes, "Really?" -- I was troubled in my spirit as I turned him away, and I was even more distraught as I saw him go from house to house around our block, having no luck, and eventually disappearing around the corner. What did I do?
Just about that time, Josh came out of the house. I said to him that I thought I had made a mistake. I explained my encounter with the man, and Josh confirmed his usual reaction to the scenario by saying that we didn't really need to have our leaves raked yet and that it wouldn't be a good use of money to hire someone to rake our yard. I felt some consolation, but I continued to ponder the situation in my heart.
This situation as well as the previous similar situations weighed on my heart, and I pleaded with the Lord about what I should do. A few days later, I woke up with what I believe was a revelation from the Holy Spirit, all in the form of Scripture, about the issue tormenting my soul. Here are the verses that permeated my mind:
40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. (Matthew 5, NIV)

6Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. (2 Corinthians 9, NIV)

[Excerpt from the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard]
3"About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4He told them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.' 5So they went.

"He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same thing. 6About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, 'Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?'

7" 'Because no one has hired us,' they answered.
"He said to them, '
You also go and work in my vineyard.' (Matthew 20, NIV)

It became clear to me from these Scriptures that the reason my spirit was in such torment was because I wasn't acting according to God's heart. I believe now that I need to be wise but free in giving generously, even when it's not always in my best (immediate) interest. I now see that this principle not only applies to my spontaneous giving, but also to requests for provisions, money, or work. I was in tears when I came to realize how uncompassionate I had been, and now that I've learned that the Holy Spirit communicates His desires with me in my spirit (manifested by intense tugs on my heart), I have made it my aim to learn how to hear His voice more clearly and to follow His prompting in more areas of my life.

1 comment:

  1. This brings a smile to my face and heart. Discerning God's spirit really is the key. I know in Atlanta we were strongly told not to give money to the homeless people we would encounter all the time. At one of our community cookouts I sat with a man named Samuel. He said that he had been clean of drugs for four months and was trying to get his life on track. He said that the church he started attending in the area asked him, "Sam, what can we do for the homeless community" His response was, "honestly, I don't know. Do not give them money, I have laid in this park many nights pretending to be asleep as I watched the drug parties and fights that would break out. I don't know what can be done, but the money will be spent on alcohol and drugs." What struck me was that this man was homeless himself, he had no incentive to say this! We were encouraged to give to organizations that helped homeless people get out of their situations and we also often gave them food. It's that principle of teaching a man how to fish instead of just giving him the fish. I think that as Christians we often take that principle too far and use it as an excuse to not give or help people at all. We think, "I can't help this person or else I'm just enabling them..." Jesus didn't consider feeding the 4,000 or 5,000 "enabling".
    I remember when I was growing up and it was not uncommon for a few men to come and ask if they could trim our palm trees in our front yard, or paint the house number on our curb. We would usually always let them, and of course my dad is someone who upholds frugality very highly.
    I love the scripture that you quoted and I think that your thoughts are right on. We need to be intentional about creating space for God to speak to us and ears that will hear his voice and discern his direction in all circumstances.