Lifestyle, interrupted…

“Giving isn’t really giving until it interrupts your lifestyle.” unknown person wiser than me

I have a history of gaining and losing weight. Clothes are bought and then donated as they become too large or (usually) too small. It feels good to bag them up and give them to a local concern or ministry that can distribute them to those in need. What I’ve done hasn’t interrupted my lifestyle; in fact it facilitates it. It creates space in my closet, a vacuum that cries out to be filled. The same can be said for any other unwanted thing in our homes which we clear out to make room for new wanted things. I end up benefiting from the giving as much as the person receiving.

Jesus makes an observation (check out Mark 12: 41-44) as He sits across from the place where folks drop offerings into the temple treasury. The wealthy give great sums which amount to no great sacrifice. In contrast, a widow with a couple copper coins to her name drops them both into the treasury. Jesus points out that these two coins are all she has to live on, yet she still gives them. In so doing, she out-gives the wealthiest donor.

When we read this story our thoughts naturally go to financial giving, but aren’t we called to lay everything on the altar, to hold nothing back from Him? It seems we do a lot of mental and moral gymnastics to get around the kind of service, sacrifice, and even suffering that comes with following Jesus. Our time, treasure, and talents are too precious to us. We’re willing to give only as much as won’t actually change anything. The lifestyle we’re so worried about being interrupted needs to be interrupted!

When I was a freshman in high school, I served as a camp counselor at a church camp during the following summer and I worked with a young man who would become one of my closest friends. The following week of camp was for high school students and I wanted my new friend to come with me. But he couldn’t afford it. His mom was a single parent with two voracious teenage boys and simply couldn’t afford the fees. So I asked my parents if they could help, even though at the time my dad was struggling to find decent-paying work and we were surviving off my mom’s salary. To this day I don’t know how my parents came up with the money or what sacrifices they made personally, but they made it possible for us to go to camp together. It was a week that would shape our lives going forward, and was only made possible because they were willing to have their lifestyle, poor as it was, to be interrupted.

We are blessed so that we may bless others. Personally, I find that I’m the most blessed when it costs me the most, when the blessing of someone else requires a meaningful sacrifice on my part. It’s when we learn to live, love, and give like Jesus that we truly walk in His footsteps. And that’s the lifestyle I want to lead.

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