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How getting gifts taught me to be generous

By: ashley wheelon

My husband and I got married when we were barely out of high school. Our first daughter was born not long after. Because we started so young, our journey into marriage, parenthood, and careers has been challenging. 

From the outside looking in, it’s probably been difficult to tell when we were in tough financial circumstances. I’m not one who likes to ask for help or even let people know we need help. I might have given small glimpses into how hard things were, but I tried my best not to. 

Despite how prideful I was, the Lord was gracious in always providing for us. He didn’t always provide in the ways that I wanted Him to (a better job or a bigger bonus), but we always had what we needed. And one of the biggest ways God provided for us was through the generosity of His people.

We All Need Help Sometimes

My family and I have received generosity more times than I can count. We’ve been given money, gift cards, a loaned car, a car to keep, unexpected meals, an extra pack of diapers, the list goes on. Through each and every one of those gifts, God showed us His love. 

In some instances, the giver knew about our hard financial circumstances. But more often than not, they were unaware of our struggles. They were simply following through on an idea the Lord put in their hearts. 

Our obedience in generosity is the best way to show others how generous God is, to be His hands and His feet in a broken world. Jesus taught His followers this principle in a story about a king sifting through his flock. To those who cared for those around them, he said, “as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40). 

Give as God Has Given to You

Culture tells us only to give to those who deserve it, to those who have earned the right, who have proven themselves worthy of a gift. But that’s not the heart of Jesus. 

Jesus taught His followers to give to everyone who asks, to let people keep what they take from you, and to bless those who curse you (Luke 6:27-31). In essence, Jesus asks us to do for others what He did for us. 

God is generous to us because we’re His.

None of us are deserving of the free gift of salvation and abundant life that we’re offered. We’ve all sinned. We’ve all valued something or someone more than we’ve valued God. We’ve all disobeyed His Word, choosing our own selfish desires instead. Our sinful nature automatically disqualifies us as worthy, deserving recipients of God’s grace, mercy, and love. 

But God doesn’t give us those gifts because of who we are or what we’ve done. God is generous to us because we’re His. God created us and wants the best for us because we are His children (Matthew 7:11). Even when we’re disobedient, He extends forgiveness. Even when we’re rebellious, He welcomes us home. Even when we’re selfish, He’s merciful. 

How Receiving Generosity Changes You, Too

When we follow God’s example of generosity, there’s no excuse to withhold what we can freely give. Proverbs 11:24 says that when we give generously, we grow richer. 

If the Lord has prompted you to be generous with your money or your possessions, don’t hesitate. You have no idea how He can use it. Imagine yourself in a similar position to the ones you see others in, and do what you would want others to do for you (Matthew 7:12).

Being a recipient of generosity makes being a giver of generosity that much more meaningful.

Being a recipient of generosity makes being a giver of generosity that much more meaningful. Experiencing others’ generosity has been painfully humbling for me. It's also given me a compassion for others that I was missing before.

Seeing how God has and continues to use generosity to bless me makes me eager to be a part of that work in the life of someone else. I may never know what my money or gift might actually mean to someone, but if the Lord puts it on my heart to be generous, I want to be obedient.

And for the many who have ever been generous to me and my precious family, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. Thank you for listening to the Holy Spirit. Thank you for following through in obedience. Thank you for your physical blessing that was also a spiritual blessing. Thank you for your generosity!

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