How to Give and Receive

July 21st, 2021 by Vance Browning

When Gabby and I were a bit younger we were part of a homegroup that met at a house in a small town called Oviedo that was then, way out in the boonies. 

people eating together

At one meeting we had a discussion about faith and then had refreshments.  On the topic of faith, I mentioned to a woman I met for the first time, that I had been without work for quite a long time, but that we knew that God was providing for us.  I would have preferred that God’s provision would come as a good-paying job, but I didn’t want to tell Him how to do His job! 

To drive the point home as, hopefully, an inspiration to her faith, I cheerfully told her that the only money we had was the change in my pocket. (Yes, people used to carry coins in their pockets back then.)  I pulled out the two quarters and showed them to her.

coins

A few days later we got a check in the mail.  It was from the woman we had just met at the homegroup meeting.  It was very thoughtful and generous of her, and much appreciated! 

I also felt a little sheepish about it, thinking maybe I had unintentionally manipulated her emotions.  I asked her about it at the next meeting.  She said she had prayed about it and that she was just being obedient.  She said that the amount on the check was the number that came to her as she prayed.  It was the precise amount of our mortgage payment.  

God is generous.

Gods is generous.

how to give generously

The Surprising Way God Provides

That act of sacrifice has forever altered the way I think about money and God’s provision for me.  I’m learning to trust God when I have little and trust God when I have plenty. 

Both of those situations make that trust challenging (and for different reasons that I’m sure you can imagine).  That little bit of trust frees me to not despair when my finances look bleak and to be generous when the outlook is more positive. 

The mortgage crisis that led to the recession starting in 2007 hit my profession harder than most. 

stock prices plummet

In 2009, while still hanging on to my job, I made the final tuition payment to Alicia’s private school; she was graduating that year.  It brought our last credit card up to its limit. 

Two weeks later I lost my job. 

As a result, all four years of her college tuition that wasn’t covered by scholarships was made up of grants that we would not otherwise have qualified for. 

I also worked out a deal with the banks to lower the interest rates on our credit card debt from 30% to 2%.  If not, we would probably still be paying on them.  These were blessings that I could not see when the boss told me he was closing the office.  

Don’t despair.

Dont despair.

How (and When) I Give Cheerfully

Our finances have been up and down since then, but now I love being able to actually give a full tithe to this church that God has called us to.  We make monthly donations to missionaries and make small gifts to charities that our friends feel passionate about. It makes them feel supported and their passions validated.  

One of our favorite things to do is to anonymously pay for someone else’s meal at a restaurant or pick up the bar tab of a young couple on a date.  I know how acts of kindness make me feel as the recipient; that inspires me to do that for someone else. 

I know how acts of kindness make me feel as the recipient; that inspires me to do that for someone else.

Once, I had a store gift card sent to a teenager at our church who was in need of something specific.  She eventually discovered that it had come from me.  She sent me a thank you note.  I keep it on my computer desk.  Although it has coffee stains on it now, I read it sometimes when I am feeling discouraged.  The small investment I made in her has paid huge dividends to me. 

Be generous.

Be generous

Jesus, bless us that we may be a blessing to others.

Do you have a story of God's provision for you?  Can you think of a time when giving brought you joy?  Let us know in the comments below!

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About this author:

Vance Browning

Vance Browning

Vance Browning is a longstanding member of New Covenant. He serves on the worship team (and is the only one who understands the sound system). He and his wife Gabby have a tropical paradise growing in their backyard.

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