Poor Beggars

According to Paul in 2 Corinthians 8, the Macedonians were a bunch of poor beggars. The phrase stirs up images which we associate with the condition; clothes torn and unwashed, face and hands full of grime and dirt, hair matted and messy, and empty hands outstretched with hopes that they might be filled. If this is your mental image of a Macedonian, you may be close, but you got one part wrong.

Photo by Nicolo Paternoster

Macedonians were a different breed of poor beggar. Make no mistake about it, these people were poor. Paul said, “They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor (2 Cor. 8:2).” Paul also tells us that they begged on a frequent basis (2 Cor. 8:4). So what makes these poor beggars different from other poor beggars?

These beggars did not beg to get; they begged to give!

“…they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem.” (2 Cor. 8:3-4)

How could these poor people be so desiring to give? They had given themselves into a generosity loop. “They are filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity (2 Cor. 8:2).” This abundant joy caused them to give out of their lack more than they could afford to give. Their reward; more abundant joy. In other’s eyes they may have been poor, but they felt rich. Where they were short on money, they were full of joy.

If you are short on joy, try giving. If you need something, give some of it away. If you need money, give some to someone who needs it more than you do. If you need a word of encouragement, give away some compliments. If you need love, give your heart to someone who is hurting.

Give out of your lack if you have to. Get inside the generosity loop. Before you know it, your heart will be full of abundant joy and you will be begging to give more.

The Gift of Gratitude

One of my “Words for 2011” is ‘GIVING.’ 

I read a book about a month ago that highlighted the importance of restoring margin in our lives: financial margin, emotional margin, health margin, etc. One of the greatest rewards of living a life of margin is that it frees you up to give. When you have extra money because you have not spent it on things that you do not need, you are free to give. When you are emotionally strong and physically healthy because you have taken care to maintain margin in these areas, you are free to give. When you give, you find that the joy it brings you and others greatly exceeds the joy of the things which previously occupied your margins.

Photo by treslola

When we think about giving, we normally think of money, work, and time. These are certainly wonderful and important ways to give, but perhaps the best place for us to start is the often overlooked gift of gratitude. I am currently reading a book by one of my favorite authors, Tim Sanders, titled Today We Are Rich (free Kindle Edition). Tim highlights the importance of giving thanks in a chapter titled “Exercise Your Gratitude Muscle.”

“Gratitude is a muscle, not a feeling…You’ve got to give your gratitude muscle a workout every day if you want to feel grateful.”

Tim gives a three-step workout plan for your gratitude muscle.

  1. Tune In – Actively look for things to be thankful for.
  2. Dig Deeper – Identify the source (ultimately, the source is God).
  3. Express Thanks – Identify people who have helped you. Thank them. Thank them publicly.

Why not give your gratitude a workout today? Who can you give thanks to? What is stopping you?

I’ll go first. I would like to thank my friend and mentor Jim Poitras for a compliment that he paid me yesterday. The encouraging words came at a time when I needed to hear them. I am thankful that God has put people in my life to affirm the giftings that He has given me. Thanks, Bro. Poitras!

Your Turn!

Scarcity Thinking

Having a scarcity mindset is one of the most dehabilitating habits a Christian can have.  So many children of God are bound by the thinking they “can’t give”, “can’t do”, “can’t contribute” because they don’t have enough.  And just like that, they are robbed of their opportunity and ability to be a good steward with that which God has given them.

I can think of at least two good reasons why a child of God should never be bound by a mindset of scarcity.

1. It doesn’t belong to you in first place.  Whatever time you have, He gave it to you.  Whatever talent you have, He loaned it to you (just ask Rush).  Whatever treasure you have, He blessed you with it.  And it all belongs to Him!  He gives and takes away.  He owns the cattle on a thousand hills.  He blesses those who use what He gave them for His glory.

2. You have access to the source that will never run dry.  David said he had never seen the righteous forsaken or His seed begging bread.  He is Jehovah-Jireh, your provider.  Having a mindset of Scarcity is directly opposed to faith in God.

There is enough to go around!  Just ask the boy with a little lunch.  If he had a scarcity mindset, 5,000+ people may have gone without.

Let me issue a challenge… Give Something Away Today.  Send some money to someone you know is struggling.  Find a new way to use the talent God gave you to bless others.  Take time out of your busy schedule and spend it with and elderly person or a child.  See what God will do!

Attitude Trumps Authority

When it comes to leadership, my guess would be that most of you feel inadequate.  You don’t believe that you have what it takes to really be a leader.  Or maybe you feel limited in who, when, and where you can lead and you feel that you have already reached a plateau in your leadership potential.  Or, could it be that you feel like the “low man on the totem pole” at your church, in your ministry, at your school, or on the job – why would they listen to you?

The reason you feel this way is because you, and many others, have confused authority with leadership.  We believe that before we can lead, we have to have authority over those we are leading.  That is, very simply, not the case.  It is possible to lead from the middle, or even the bottom!

Jesus teaches us how to lead.  When it came to leading people, Jesus was much more about attitude that He was about authority.  He had more authority than anybody, but He knew that authority was not the source of true leadership.  Jesus lead with an attitude of a servant.  This is just simply amazing to me, all power was given to Him in Heaven and in Earth, yet He served the sinner!

In doing this, Jesus demonstrated that anyone can be a leader.  We lead by our attitude.  We lead with love.  We lead best when we serve.  So whatever your context may be, don’t believe that you can’t be a leader.  Find a need.  Be a servant.  You are a leader.

Hey, don’t look now, but that person you just served is following you!

Do you have any examples of leading through serving?