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Give willingly, as Jesus did

November 11, 2022

Daily Scripture

2 Corinthians 8:9, 12-15

9 You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Although he was rich, he became poor for your sakes, so that you could become rich through his poverty.

12 A gift is appreciated because of what a person can afford, not because of what that person can’t afford, if it’s apparent that it’s done willingly. 13 It isn’t that we want others to have financial ease and you financial difficulties, but it’s a matter of equality. 14 At the present moment, your surplus can fill their deficit so that in the future their surplus can fill your deficit. In this way there is equality. 15 As it is written, The one who gathered more didn’t have too much, and the one who gathered less didn’t have too little [Exodus 16:18].

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Hebrew Christians in Jerusalem faced persecution and hardship almost from the beginning. Paul was concerned for them and asked his Gentile Christian converts to give to help the members of their Christian family in Jerusalem. He laid out his ideal for the church: not “class warfare,” but deep-seated mutual concern and burden-sharing. They responded gladly, and he urged them to finish the collection in the same generous spirit Jesus had showed toward them.

  • Giving is personal. Paul made it plain that neither God nor he was interested in comparing the amounts various people gave. What mattered more was the spirit in which they gave, in proportion to the resources they had. Discuss with family, and/or with a trusted friend, your reasons for giving. How can you learn to set aside the “what’s in it for me?” question, and instead give based on how it will help others?
  • What standards or guidelines do you use to decide the difference between “wants” and “needs” in choosing what to spend on yourself, and what to give? Have you ever given to an important project even though you thought, “My little gift can’t make much difference”? How have you felt the satisfaction at having had a part, however large or small, in a worthwhile effort?

Lord Jesus, I see a tempting item online or in an ad, and my brain goes to work to translate “I want that” into “I need that.” Give me your wisdom to have that inner conversation honestly and in a generous spirit. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of  Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe & his wife, Doris, first met in a Resurrection Single Adult Sunday School class in 1997 & were married in what is now the Student Center. They are empty nesters with 2 college-aged sons, Matthew & Jacob. Darren serves as a Couples Small Group co-leader & Men's Group Leader, while volunteering in a variety of other capacities at Resurrection.

As I considered today’s theme, I recalled the life of one of my all-time favorite comedians, Jack Benny, aka “The Stingiest Man in Show Business.” Born in 1894 as Benjamin Kubelsky of Jewish immigrants from Poland, Jack’s career in vaudeville, radio, movies, & television spanned 50 years. (As we commemorate Veteran’s Day today, Benny was also a veteran volunteering to serve in the Navy during WWI.) Jack would meet his future wife, Mary, at a Passover Seder hosted by his friends, the Marx Brothers. (Oh, to be the fly on the wall that evening.)

Benny had several shticks/routines:

  • Even though Jack was an accomplished violin player, he would butcher his performances for comic effect. (Small Boy: Mr. Benny, I’ve been playing the violin for 3 years. Benny: Oh really? Do you play like me? Small Boy: Well, I used to.”)
  • Benny was extremely humble, frequently giving the funniest lines to his co-stars. (He opened his 1st radio appearance with, “Hello folks, this is Jack Benny. There will be a slight pause while everyone says, ‘Who cares?’” & “I don’t deserve this award. But then I have arthritis & I don’t deserve that either.”)
  • Jack was devoted to his wife, Mary, & made arrangements in his will that after he died for a red rose to be delivered to her every day of her life. (“Mary embarrassed me the other night. We went to one of those fancy restaurants for our anniversary – and she dropped her tray.”)
  • And even though Jack was incredibly generous in real-life, he constantly portrayed himself as a cheapskate. (Mugger comes up behind Jack: “Your money or your life.” Jack Benny doesn’t respond. Mugger: “Well?” Jack Benny: “I’m thinking.”)

With all of the bad economic updates & forecasts in the news lately, it’s been interesting to read how frugality is becoming trendy. Recipes from the depression era are now in fashion, like making meat loaf or goulash/stews to stretch your food dollar.

I would submit that for those of us who are considered a tad frugal, we’ve been getting a bad rap. Yes, we monitor the thermostat with devoted vigilance &, yes, we are bothered when someone opens the refrigerator door & just blankly stares at his options for 5 minutes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we are stingy or miserly. Rather, being frugal could mean that we want to carefully allocate our income to achieve the greatest outcome. Thus, for example, we might have skipped purchasing that Elvis Grbac or Matt Cassell football jersey so we could have money at the ready to splurge on that Patrick Mahomes jersey & Super Bowl Champion paraphernalia.

Likewise, with so many wonderful & worthy charitable options available, we also want to make sure our donations achieve the most “bang for our buck.” I would contend that donations to God’s Kingdom fulfill this goal in multiple ways:

  • Our donation not only helps the fiscally poor, but also those who are poor in spirit.
  • Our contribution not only helps deliver clean water to people in need, but those in dire need of Christ’s living water.
  • Our gift not only helps feed those who are physically hungry, but those who are hungry for God’s love.
  • Our generosity not only has many health benefits for us, but also helps the spiritual health of thousands of our fellow friends & neighbors.
  • Finally, our offering not only helps us to avoid the temptation of coveting money & possessions, but it also provides us a way to tangibly worship & honor God.

Huh. Who knew there could be so many extra perks accompanying our commitment to God’s Kingdom? Talk about getting a great return on your investment & making your dollar go further.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to watch a few old episodes of the Jack Benny show. One of Jack’s colleagues shared the following story roasting Benny for his alleged frugality: New to the cast of the TV show, Mr. Benny invited my wife & I to a cookout at his home. He asked me if I wanted a plain burger or a deluxe burger. I asked, “What’s the difference?” Jack replied, “10 cents.”

*Fein, Irving A. Jack Benny: An Intimate Biography, Putnam, January 1, 1976

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Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.