The Joy of Giving

by Dustin on May 27, 2013

37ab

In 1 Chronicles 29, David prays a prayer over the new temple in Jerusalem. In verse 14 he says, “Who am I, and who are my people that we should be able to give like this?”

He was mystified that the creator of everything would deem him and his people worthy of giving anything. He goes on to say, “I have seen with joy how willingly your people have given to you.”

There is no question that giving evokes a deep sense of internal joy. David understood this and was experiencing it when he prayed those words.

I work for an organization that builds houses for people that have earned them by volunteering in their community. In order for us to build a house, the person has to own or be paying on their land. Amparo is a mom who volunteered all of her hours (well over 200) only to find out that she did not truly own her land. She thought she did, she had been paying a little bit on it every month, but something was wrong with the paper work and she didn’t legally own it. She had already volunteered her hours and the land only cost $180, about two months wages. We decided to gather up some money and drive down to city hall and get this straightened out.

On our way to city hall, I got a phone call from one of her neighbors. Her neighborhood had taken up an offering and was just $20 short. The neighbor wanted to know if she could get a ride to her pastor’s house to see if the church could help out. It took a few extra days, but Amparo was living in her new house within the month and her neighbors all came to help her build it.

It would have been easy for us to simply pay the $180 and move on. It would have been the noble thing to do and it would have felt really good. Without knowing it, we almost robbed Amparo’s neighbors of the joy of giving.

When we do things that a community is capable of doing for itself, we are robbing people of joy. 

No matter what aspect of overseas work you are involved with, you have to ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do the people I serve experience the joy of giving?
  • What actions of mine could send the message that their gifts aren’t enough?
  • Have I ever discouraged someone from giving (on purpose or not)?
  • How am I encouraging people to give?

A new measure of success you could start using is: How much are the people I serve giving?

If I saw some old widow trying to give away everything she has, I’d probably sit her down and convince her that giving away 100% of her money was bad stewardship. Jesus commended a woman for doing just that.

The joy of giving is such an essential part of maturity and development. Be extremely careful that you aren’t robbing anyone, or any community, of this joy.

What are some things we do that may be unintentionally robbing people of the joy of giving?

– Dustin Patrick,  1MISSION in Mexico & Central America

Blog: GoodMud | Twitter: @DustinPatrick

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  • The mission organization we are a part of is working through the book “When Helping Hurts”. It with this subject very well.

  • Richelle Wright

    your short, almost final paragraph about the widow woman who gave all? i don’t know that i’ve discouraged a similar behavior, but i know that it would be my first thought inside. and in this relational focused land where people read other people so well…???

    great challenge!

  • Rachel ‘Pieh’ Jones

    I love the perfect example of how the community got involved, and how quickly we foreigners can try to do something and end up like a big elephant stomping over roses. I don’t mean that in a bad way against you, Dustin! I mean it to myself too – just that we aren’t always the best at knowing what is going on. I appreciate your honesty in sharing this story. I have actually seen an HIV positive mother and widow give the last coins she had for the day to a beggar I had ignored, as she and I were climbing into my car in the market. Wow, the Bible came alive to me in that moment! I have so much to learn still. Thanks for the reminder that giving is about joy and community.

  • Marla Taviano

    Good stuff!!

  • Guest

    Debbie – When Helping Hurts is a great book… all about helping without causing more shame for the lowly recipients.

    Thanks for reading everyone!

  • I loved this: A new measure of success you could start using is: How much are the people I serve giving?

    This is so good! It does go against the grain of what we traditionally think of/practice, but it is such an important measuring stick for success in a community. Thanks for this, Dustin.

    We are so happy to have you on the team, and I am loving your words in this space!

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  • CurmudgyOne

    Hello Dustin — This is a beautiful piece and just what I’m looking for right now. I am preparing the second edition of my new magazine, “To The Nations Magazine,” on the Apple Newsstand. I would love to reprint this article exactly as-is and will happily provide a link to your blog, your website, etc. Please let me know through Twitter if this is a possibility. Blessings — Bill

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