Be A Giver

In the time of COVID-19, the media tell many stories of panic buying and hoarding.  Motivated by fear of shortages and price increases, some are acquiring for themselves unreasonably massive stockpiles of ‘essentials’: toilet paper, hand sanitizer, canned foods, dried beans, rice, etc.  Prov. 6:6-8 tells us to learn from the ant how to work, plan, and save for the future, and—in case of blizzards and other unforeseen events—we are wise to stash a bit more than we immediately need, especially if we live far from any grocery store.  But what the media are highlighting is something more like the rich fool (Luke 12), who dies suddenly with mountains of food and possessions socked away in barns.  “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

The opposite of hoarding is generosity (toward God and others), so the media are also highlighting stories of generous citizens helping those in need.  Liquor distilleries are making and handing out hand sanitizer.  Restaurants are providing free meals for exhausted healthcare workers in crowded hospitals.  Individuals are busily sewing and giving free protective face masks to those who need them.

In Luke 10 Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan, who—from his own pocket—paid for a wounded victim’s care and lodging.  Jesus then says, “go and do likewise.”  While the Samaritan is an excellent example for us to follow, the Bible frequently points us to the best example, God Himself.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.  Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children...” (Eph. 4:32-5:1).  “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).  More than anyone in the Bible, God Himself is Whom we should imitate.

God’s generosity is prominent in scripture.  In the Bible’s first chapter, God says, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it.  They will be yours for food” (Gen. 1:29).  In its last chapter, God says, “Whoever is thirsty let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life” (Rev. 22:17).  Between those first and last chapters are countless examples of God’s extravagant kindness, His profligate generosity.

Though He didn’t have to, God made Eden’s flora “pleasing to the eye and good for food.”  As our good Shepherd, He ensures that we lack nothing (Ps. 23:1).  “The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing” (Ps. 34:10).  In Ps. 36:7-9, God delights in showering people with delicious abundance. And look at Ps. 65:9-13, in which God so drenches the land that it overflows with abundance, causing its people to revel in their bounty and “shout for joy and sing.”

In addition to the myriad blessings of Creation, God has given us His Word.  Ps. 119 tells of the many benefits we have because He has spoken to us, revealing Himself and His will.  Verse 103 says, “How sweet are Your promises to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”  And similarly, in Jer. 15:16, “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight, for I bear your name, LORD God Almighty.”  In the Bible we are given the wisdom we need to live well by loving God and others.  Best of all, through His Word, we can know God! In knowing God, and by His power, 2 Peter 1:3 says that He has “given us everything we need for life and godliness.”

God’s costliest gift to us, though, is our eternal life.  “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16). Through faith in Jesus we will live forever in Heaven!  So great was the Father’s love for us that He “did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us...” (Rom. 8:32).  This awesome love, however, was not limited to the Father giving us His Son; it also entailed the Son giving Himself for us.  In Gal. 2:20, Paul says that Jesus “loved me and gave Himself for me,” and in Eph. 5:2, “Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant sacrificial offering to God.”  Just before doing this—laying down His life for us—Jesus taught us that there is no greater love than this (Jn. 15:13).

If these are the examples we should follow, how might we be givers in the current situation?  With very few exceptions, it is unlikely that God would ask you to give your life for someone else.  Still, the health and lives of first responders and medical professionals are at risk each time they treat someone with COVID-19. Pray for their protection, and encourage them however you can.

But what about those of us who must stay home? First and most obvious, perhaps, is that we can continue to support the ongoing ministries we have been supporting.  With the few obvious changes, our church’s ministries and expenses continue, and there are easy ways to give online or by mail.  Second, reach out to trustworthy organizations in town and elsewhere.  Springs Rescue Mission (here in town), The Salvation Army (locally or nationally), Samaritan’s Purse (globally)—these fine Christian ministries can all be supported online, without ever leaving your house.

There are also a few easy, practical ways we can give.  While maintaining appropriate “social distance” (by phone or from 6+ feet), we can ask our neighbors how they’re doing; offer to pray for them or with them; if they lack something, offer to share from your stash or to pick it up for them when you go to the store.

You likely have other creative ideas for how you can be a giver.  Let us ask God how we can follow His example, and to guide us in how we might express His love for the people He brings into our lives.