Giving as Mercy in Action

We are being encouraged to prayerfully consider giving in the offering coming up.  I have been thinking about what it means to give out of my abundance, but sacrificially and with joyful hearts!

Give out of our Abundance.

I can say honestly I am not feeling any abundance these days.  How about you?  In contrast, everyone is feeling the pinch at the grocery store and elsewhere.  In a way the word abundance implies to be rich, but I don’t feel rich. 

But what does it mean to be poor?  I’m kind of a word and information geek. I was surprised to read how the US Government describes POOR in America:

“For most Americans, the word poverty sug­gests destitution: an inability to provide a family with nutritious food, clothing, and reasonable shel­ter … but overall, the typical American defined as poor by the US government has a car, air conditioning, a refrig­erator, a stove, a clothes washer and dryer, and a microwave. He has two color televisions, cable or satellite TV reception, a DVD player, and a stereo. He is able to obtain medical care. His home is in good repair and is not overcrowded. By his own report, his family is not hungry and he had suf­ficient funds in the past year to meet his family’s essential needs. While this individual’s life is not opulent, it is equally far from the popular images of dire poverty.”

That is not to say that there isn’t suffering here in America. I would be heartless and foolish to claim such a thing.  But most of us here in America live quite opulently, relative to the rest of the world. 

“25,000 people die every day of hunger-related causes,” says to the United Nations — This is one person every three and a half seconds, [the time it took you to read this.] and, “it is children who die most often.”

I may not feel that my life is full of abundance, but I am very priviledged and comfortable.

Give Sacrificially. 

I’m no Greek scholar, but I use online resources.  The Greek word for GIVE is eleemosune, which refers to mercy in action.  Oh, how I love that!  It is “the outward expression of active compassion.”  And how should we give?  In secret. Voluntarily.  Which means not out of guilt or under compulsion, but thoughtfully and prayerfully. And most striking, as I read about the Macedonians, was that they actually did live in “deep poverty.” 3

Give With Joy!!  

2 Corinthians instructs that they gave according to their ability; proportionally, based on what they had; sacrificially and voluntarily, not out of compulsion.

This is tricky, because often we do not even know our true motives for giving; often there are many reasons.  But I’ve been thinking about this a lot.  If I give reasonably it is not impulsive.  I take the time to think and pray about it.  I make my decision based on knowledge of my budget and facts about my prior commitments of giving and bills.  I don’t know about you, but weirdly enough I get joy out of knowing exactly how much I am able to give.  We must know where we stand financially.  

If I give sacrificially that might mean giving up a thing or two in my life. Consider giving up a latte from a coffee shop between now and Christmas @ $3.50 each three times a week that’s $42 between now and Christmas and all I’m “giving up” is my lattés for a while.  What if I gave up the Chocolate Croissant as well? 

“… the churches in Macedonia, though they have been going through much trouble and hard times, their wonderful joy and deep poverty have overflowed in rich generosity. For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford but far more. And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again and again for the gracious privilege of sharing in the gift for the Christians in Jerusalem. (2 Corinthians 8, New Living Translation.)

It sounds radical and kind of crazy, but we are being encouraged to consider giving on Sunday out of our abundance, sacrificially and with open and joyful hearts!   I have so much, how can my response NOT be to give?  I know where I stand financially, so I can give a specific amount knowing where I stand.  And I feel such joy in my ability to help others by giving.  Every blessing, as you work on these wonderful and yet complicated heart issues. 

Written by Melody Hanson

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2 Responses to “Giving as Mercy in Action”


  1. 1 Heather December 8, 2008 at 11:42 am

    As soon as began reading this post, I knew it had to be you, Melody. Thank you for using your gift of writing to stretch our minds and challenge our hearts.

  2. 2 Shere-Ling December 16, 2008 at 11:02 am

    I love CAFES, since my mom taught me to enjoy it since I was a very young girl in Taiwan. Years ago I decided to order small coffee only and say NO to latte to save money. Nowadays I don’t even go out to lunch much. I use money that I have saved to cook for international students/scholars coming to Sunday’s International Club. (I am not alone, a few of us do this week after week for I. Club.)

    This last Sunday I accidentally wrote a check with $5 more than I planned to give. Oh well, another lunch out of the door. Seriously, I don’t waste water as much as I did just a few months ago.


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Love All

Act Local: Share gifts of time and resources with those in our community. At the Impact Tree in the Atrium, find opportunities available for individuals, families and life groups. All the information you need will be on the cards by the Tree. Take a card – put an ornament on the tree.

Give Global: On Sunday, December 13 during services, we'll take up an Advent Conspiracy offering (a direct result of spending less) to give towards clean water projects and wheelchair needs in Honduras, Kenya and Romania. If you won’t be able to join us at services on that day but still want to participate, just write "Advent" in the memo of your check and drop it in any of the offering boxes.


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