In churches that I have pastored, a Christmas tree in the lobby had names of needy children on it with a gift suggestion for that child. Dottie and I would always take a few cards and buy gifts for the children. We would spend about $25 on each child.
Since retiring, we have been attending a church where I am not the Lead Pastor. Recently, we had an opportunity to sign up to help needy children from a local elementary. We believed it would be similar to what we had done in our previous churches, and signed up for four children. We thought we were signing up to spend between $25 and $50 per child. We felt comfortable spending a couple of hundred dollars out of our budget. During the morning service, we were told our cost per child would average between $75 and $100. There was a big difference between our expectations and our reality. We had an instant, but brief panic.
When we received the lists for the four children, each list included a coat, boots, scarf, gloves, shoes, pants, tops, etc., and a toy. We could tell the new cost would be $100 and $150 per child. I had saved a little emergency money and decided to use that money to buy these gifts. My wife and I were in agreement that the Lord would provide.
It was such a joy shopping for these children. We enjoyed filling the cart for children that would so appreciate these gifts. We wanted to do this because it was the right thing to do. We spent close to $600 of the $800 I had saved.
To make a long story short, an interfaith organization hired me to speak, and the honorarium was $150. After my talk, one of the organizers gave me a thank you card. When I opened the envelope a few hours later. It was a thank-you note and inside was an additional $400. Immediately I realized, God had provided.
In Matthew 6:3-4, Jesus says, “do not let your left hand know what the right hand is doing.” It was talking about giving our alms without boasting about it. Giving is something we should do but never toot our horn about.
Adopting these children for Christmas gave me a different perspective about Matthew 6:3-4. I have a helping hand and a stingy one. They constantly battle each other. One hand desires to help others sacrificially, no matter what the cost. The other hand panics when that hand does that. My stingy hand over-analyzes and is much more cautious about giving. I have had these two hands all my life. On the one hand, I want to give, and on the other hand I am concerned I will not have enough for me.
Caution and giving go together. It is Biblical to consider the cost, Luke 14:25-35. We also need to remember that all things belong to God and we are His stewards. The Spirit leads you and me to do the right thing. It is never the right time to do the wrong thing, and it is never the wrong time to do the right thing.