“In all this I have given you an example that by such work we must support the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, for he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” – Acts 20:35
My wife and I are very blessed by having worked for decades and by being savers. The practices of working for a wage and saving are essential for “making a living,” as the expression goes. But living an abundant life is not defined by working for a wage and by saving. Living a life of abundance is defined by giving. Giving our “first fruits” as the “first practice” of life has a way of framing all of life’s other practices with a sense of gratitude, trust, and faith in knowing that the meaning of life is not determined by what we have, because what we have is always limited. We can never have it all.
When we give, we train ourselves to practically live out these truths:
- we cannot have it all
- we are limited creatures
- we are not defined by our stuff
Recently my wife and I received our stimulus money via direct deposit. Before we received it, we talked about what we were going to do with it. As she is also a United Methodist pastor at Glenview UMC, she suggested we give it to support the work of the Northern Illinois Annual Conference, which is what we did.
There are hundreds of pastors and church staff in our small but mighty conference that serve approximately 80,000 Methodists across hundreds of churches. In this terrible time of fear, separation, and isolation, I can think of no better social organism to support than the church. There are many charities that do good works and that deserve our support, but the church is the only social organism on the planet that walks alongside our fellow human beings from birth, through childhood, through adolescence, through adulthood, through older age, and, ultimately, through to death, all the while teaching and preaching that God’s presence is always among us and that suffering and death do not have the final say on our lives.
As you receive your stimulus money, ask yourself this question:
“Do I / we really need this money?”
Several of you will answer this question with an obvious, “yes,” for any number of reasons related to the economic realities in which we find ourselves. That is a blessing. Yes, the money may not be “enough,” but it is still a blessing. Some of you may not receive any stimulus or less than most people because of income qualifications. This is a blessing because it reminds you of how immensely blessed you are. My guess is, though, that most of you reading this will answer honestly, “No, I / we don’t really need this money.” That is also a blessing, because now you can practically live out your freedom and faith to decide to whom and to what cause you are going to give the money.
Be safe and be blessed,
Rev. Chris Walters