Joy can be found in giving. At Wiser Dollar you will read a lot about how to save money, but there needs to be some balance to that as it’s not just about saving money, there is a place for giving as well.
Over the years I have been impressed with the ministry of a homebuilder in our city. They are a profitable business. If you’re in business you’d better make a profit. Your family and the families of your employees are counting on it. But about seventeen years ago they determined to give away a percentage of the company’s profits. The funds would go to various good works. And since making that commitment they’ve given away hundreds of thousands of dollars if not more. My impression is they’re trying to be good stewards of what they have.
In a small West Texas town, I recall my grandmother asking where would the community be without Dora Roberts? She was a woman who suffered from polio, but who gave so much to the community due to her extensive oil revenue. She, in my estimation, must have tried to be a good steward of what she had.
But, stewardship is not limited just to those excessively wealthy, it is a principle that is applicable to all. After all, he who is trustworthy with a little will be trustworthy with a lot.
In my own life I can think of plenty of examples when I have hoarded instead of sharing, even to the extreme of hanging on to broken junk thinking it had too great of a value to remove from my property. And when my heart has been softened enough to release such treasures I have discovered that most people, for some reason, don’t want broken junk. It’s fit only for the dumpster.
But, at the same time, I am capable of letting go of stuff of value and the reflection necessary to write for Wiser Dollar reminds me of the need to open the doors to my barn and my heart more regularly. There have been occasions when I have pulled stuff out of the barn that has some value and given that stuff to others that then blessed them and myself as well.
For example, after our boys had outgrown the use of a nice stroller, I had envisioned selling it for $20.00 or so. But at the same time we were aware of a young couple who were very limited financially and were having a baby, so we decided to give them the stroller instead. Looking back, I’m glad we did. The blessing it gave was to be valued more than $20.00.
This past year we gave a very nice king sized bed away; it was a bit too soft for my liking, but blessed a couple in need. This last weekend I bought about 50 books at a library sale. Some of the books are for myself, some I will resell and some I specifically selected to give to a university library that is being developed in East Africa. Over the years, we have given money to other needs as well, such as to our church, to a friend needing support and to a former co-worker having brain surgery. With that said though, my natural inclination is not to give, so the giving spirit is something that has had to be developed and still needs to be developed further.
Among my friends I have observed many examples of people making decisions about their finances and possessions that would not make sense to the common person on the street. Why do you give to meet needs on the other side of the world? Why do you give to help people who cannot in return help you? Many whom I know give away 10% or more of their income. From a financial planning angle, that doesn’t make sense, but in practicing love for one’s neighbor it does. It is a discipline that says some things are more important than money. My experience is limited enough on this that I’m not speaking as much from experience as from the testimony of others when I say that while money cannot buy happiness, the giving of it and the giving of things of value can indeed bring joy.
Wherever we’re at on the continuum of having a little or having a lot, I believe we should enjoy the blessings we receive but also I believe that many of us should practice some restraint and maybe even frugality as we discern how best to use what we have. So, yes I would suggest that most of us should plan for the future, but we should also share with others. This specifically applies to possessions and finances, but I think it also applies to resources, talents and time. Now there should be some variance here, as this can play out in different ways for different people. But the principle is the same, it’s not just about me; it’s not just about you; it’s not about personal peace and affluence. It is about living a life of love and being good stewards of the blessings we’ve received. Indeed, joy can be found in giving.
photo credit: by Ben Grey / Sharing via Flickr cc License – 9/22/15 with no changes