linvilles in Love with cheerful giving

On the sidebar to your right, you will notice a convenient PayPal “donate” button that you may use to give us money. Why should you be so generous? Because we see this everyday and we want to end it:

Nope. He's not trying to give me money.

Nope. He’s not trying to give me money.

If we don't reach out, she reaches in!

If we don’t reach out, she reaches in!

What would you do if she were your grandmother?

How long can you look into her eyes without feeling?

…But who are these people?

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.” …“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me. ’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you? ’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me. ’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” – Matthew 25:31-33; 41-46, ESV.

They are the least of these. In their own way, they are emissaries of my King, and as I do unto them, so I do unto my Lord!

However, notice what the verse above does not say: it does not say “give money;” but perhaps Jesus addressed that here:

“And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” Matthew 5:40-42, ESV, emphasis mine

I think it’s purposefully vague and therefore meant to be more encompassing than not, so yeah, Jesus knew we’d be faced with opportunities to give money and wanted us to take those opportunities to love others.

“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you’—when you already have it with you.” Proverbs 3:27-28, ESV

“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:17-18, ESV

To be clear, the Apostle John is teaching that we not love in word or talk ONLY, but ALSO in deed and in truth. If there’s no verbal Christian witness behind my generosity then I get the glory for my good actions instead of God, and I want God to get all the glory.

When my generosity is empowered by the joy of the Lord and established in the promises of Christ, I ALWAYS have something to give, even if I have no money on me:

“Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, ‘Look at us.’ And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, ‘I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!’ And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.” Acts 3:1-8, ESV, emphasis mine

And this is the point:

I shouldn’t give as the world gives!

To bring this around full circle: Christ calls me to do more than just give money:

He calls me EAT with the poor; welcome the stranger into my home; CLOTHE the naked; and VISIT the sick and imprisoned! What’s terrifying is that Matthew 25 explicitly describes these behaviors as evidences of salvation!

Let that sink in a minute. Now rejoice with me for our Savior Jesus Christ!

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10, ESV

Rejoice! God’s worked this out. When I don’t have the ability (or time) to break bread and dress up naked, sick, or imprisoned strangers, it’s okay. God knows. What’s important is my heart. Do I care about the least of these? Am I planning ahead to make time to serve them?

Here’s my confession: I don’t.

I don’t care about the least of these – especially not the way Christ cares for them. Those pictures above were not taken so I could share them with you. I took those pictures because it makes [most] of the least of these go away. Here’s the usual response:

Can you love him?

Can you love him?

It might be hard to tell, but the tall man was upset with me for getting my camera out. What’s easier to see is the shame/resignation in the smaller man’s downcast eyes. They were not feeling loved, and I didn’t love them–but I gave them money.

And this has been one of the most transformative realizations that I’ve ever had about giving:

“You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving.” Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

After my field supervisor shared this with me, I wrote it on our refrigerator. I read that sentence everyday, and God used those words to change me. If I want to love and I want to give out of love, then I must give. What must I give?

Myself.

Money is the bunny slope of generosity. Since it’s just a means to an end, money is a 3rd party, distant, and cold gesture of pity. The lost and starving least of these in South Asia don’t need money. They need love. They need love to feed them, give them drink, invite them in, clothe them, and visit them in their distress.

Money is a curse when I use it as a shield. Money is a blessing when I use it as a sword.

Shield money is defensive, unproductive, and passive. Sword money is offensive, progressive, proactive, and intentional.

Here’s where you come in.

1. Pray for me and my family. We must be love to the least of these. We need Jesus to show us how we too were poor, blind, and naked before he saved us. In this we can relate to every broken person we meet: we’re all equally hopeless without Jesus!

2. Donate to our ministry. Yes, we need your money, but it’s not to buy name brand caffeine or kick-starter gadgets. I’ve even been rebuked and corrected for my Romans 13:8 blunder – so it’s not even to help us pay down my student loan debt. When you donate, you decide how we pay it forward. If you don’t specify, we’ll use your benevolence to FEED, INVITE, CLOTHE, & VISIT. Otherwise, here’s what’s going on:

The Deep Tube Well Project!

A tube well is like sticking a straw into the earth. The straw is PVC piping and the depth is between 800 and 1,000 feet! The wells need to be this deep to avoid the arsenic deposits that are present between 100 and 700 feet. We’re hoping to donate ten deep tube wells to villages in the southern division of the country. We’ve completed seven, and already a few have broken.

Student loans are a nightmare, but it is the only debt we have. At the time of this update (Feb 12, 2015), it amounts to $20,580.14 and it grows about $2.30 per day, but we’re currently only able to put $5 per day ($1,825/year) toward it. If you have experience in financial counseling, we’d appreciate any help you can offer, just leave a comment so we can connect with you. If you can afford to send some money our way, we would be incredibly grateful! If you understand the horrific burden of this type of debt, then please pray for us!

Helping us eliminate this debt is giving to missions.

We earnestly desire to conform to Romans 13:8 and we believe that this is the only stipulation given in Scripture for NOT giving! We must pay off those who already have a legal claim on our income before we can do anything else. Therefore, if you are in debt, don’t give to us! Get out of debt first, then stay our of debt! I definitely need to write a whole post on this, and if you disagree, please explain why in the comments (it will enrich the aforementioned upcoming post)! In short, the faster we get out of debt, the quicker we will be free to begin wisely lifting up the financially destitute multitudes around us in the name of Jesus. But how will we do that? Freeing up $5/day doesn’t seem like much lifting power. Wrong.

Five dollars a day can make a huge difference.

Since moving overseas, we’ve learned that our charity should never pass directly from us to the poor, but should always go to them through the local church; and only AFTER we’ve prayed, shared our specific intentions with our stateside home church and church partners, prayed again, and shared our intentions with the local pastor here. Using this accountability,

  • we are able to receive wisdom several times over before giving anything,
  • we engage more of the Body of Christ in our work,
  • we shower the giving in prayer,
  • we submit ourselves to the local church to encourage its authority in Christ, and
  • we then give to the local church.

Giving to the poor through the existing local church here affirms that the local church is the vehicle for administering God’s love; not us outsiders. Your donations will be used to open doors, and through those doors we will walk, and everywhere we walk we preach Christ.

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Categories: linvilles in fellowship, linvilles in giving, linvilles in life, linvilles in prayer, linvilles in scripture, linvilles in sharing the gospel | Leave a comment

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