It’s a blessing to welcome the words of Joni Eareckson Tada to our blog today. You’ll be challenged and encouraged by this story of generosity told on her radio show. You can listen to it on her website, plus find other resources that will strengthen your faith.
Shortly after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coastal states, officials from the Louisiana Baptist Convention received an envelope containing a donation of exactly $854 in cash. As you may remember, many gifts poured in with aid for that hard-hit region. But this was an unusual offering. It had been sent in the mail from Sumatra, Indonesia. With the $854, was a little note written by a group of twenty Indonesians who eight months earlier had seen their homes destroyed by that devastating tsunami, the one that killed tens of thousands. It was during that crisis, a Southern Baptist disaster relief team had arrived in Indonesia to help them rebuild.
Those 20 men from Indonesia had never forgotten the kindness of those American Baptists and so, when news of the historic hurricane along the Gulf Coast had reached them, it triggered quite a response. These Indonesian men wanted very much to return the favor with a gift – and not just any gift; that $854 that was sent in the mail represented a huge personal sacrifice. Those Indonesians were acting in the spirit of II Corinthians chapter 8, verse 2 where it says: “For in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.” (2 Corinthians 8:2)
Wow! You know while most of us have never been driven from our homes by a tsunami, the majority of people can relate to being financially stretched at some point. At such times, our instinct may be to cut back on our giving, our free will offerings to the Lord and to His people. Yet that may be the time to be even more intentional and more sacrificial in our giving. I believe that Gospel-motivated giving can be a means of genuine sanctification in our lives; it can be a means of grace, and a means of exhibiting the generous heart of our Heavenly Father to others.
I remember one time watching the program “Chopped” on the Food Network; it’s a kind of test to see who can cook the best meals with the craziest ingredients and win $10,000. Well, when this one chef–he was a Christian) and said so on TV–beat out his competitor; a woman who, if she had won, was hoping to go see her ailing mother in France. When he won the $10,000 he turned to the woman on camera—the woman he had just beaten—and told her that he wanted to pay for her ticket to France. Believe me, I was crying at the end of that program and so were all the judges. I know that lots of viewers, myself included, were deeply touched by his generosity. And the fact that he was a Christian? Well, it made Jesus look so good! Little wonder that program became a frequent re-run on the Food Network.
You know God’s word says in Psalm 37: “The righteous is generous and gives,” and then in Proverbs 21 it says, “… and he does not hold back.” Well, friend, if you want to be spiritually rich, then help others be spiritually rich. At times, that may mean reducing your lifestyle and sacrificing personal comfort or convenience in order to be able to give more—especially when there’s a critical need or an emergency. But I cannot imagine that in eternity there will be any of us who say, “Man, I wish I had given less.” No, when we finally see just how God used our gifts; when we see the people He blessed through us and the way the Gospel enjoyed success through our free will offerings, well, I believe all of us will say, “Oh my goodness, I wish I had given more!” Friend, when was the last time you gave a sacrificial gift? Take time today to reflect on all God has given you in Christ, and ask Him to make His generosity the source and the measure of your giving.
© Joni and Friends