In recent days I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on the life and memories of my grandmother, Ann Parker. She was sent to hospice this past week after years of assisted living, nursing homes, and debilitating dementia. Although the human side of me is saddened, I rejoice because she is soon to see the face of the Lord. I’ll never forget the stories she told me about the many times God provided for her needs.
In those days, when my dad and his siblings were young, there were times when she would have to decide whether to pay tithes to God (a tenth of one’s increase or income) or buy groceries for the family. Her stand was clear. She would rather go without than be guilty of robbing God (see Malachi 3:8). She told me about one of those times when she took the family to church not knowing what they would eat later. When they returned home, she found that God had spoken to someone who came over while they were gone and placed bags of groceries in the house (they didn’t have to lock their houses then).
I come from a very rich heritage of faith and faithfulness to God. I could spend hours telling stories of how God provided for my parents, and now provides for my family. I was taught that when Jesus becomes our Savior, He also becomes Lord. We should submit every aspect of our hearts and lives to Him, and be good stewards of what He has entrusted to us. We should follow the example set by God through His Son Jesus Christ. He gave His life – everything – to us, and in response we too should give our all to Him. We find that true joy, fulfillment, and blessing comes from giving rather than receiving (see Acts 20:35).
One of my favorite authors in recent years is S. Truett Cathy, founder of Chik-Fil-A and the Winshape Foundation. He writes in an easy-to-read way, and touches on principles of life, faith, and business. On several occasions he has partnered with Ken Blanchard, a leading author in the realm of leadership and organizational management. One such occasion is for the book The Generosity Factor.
This book is written in the form of a parable in which a young broker visits an experienced CEO and is transformed as he learns the joy of giving…a concept that is contrary to what the world forces upon us. Giving, as the authors point out, involves our time, talent, treasure (money), and touch. The main point is that “the key to generosity is a changed HEART and a transition from success to significance.” The younger broker learns that a changed heart involves:He (God) owns it all – realizing we are stewards of His grace, love, and blessing. Every day is an opportunity – we must look for opportunities to bless others. Action is required – we must take initiative and act on those opportunities. Remember your blessings Thank Him (God) – for His blessings to us and the opportunities to bless others.
Success is what the world drives us to pursue. With success, our pursuits involve attaining wealth, status, and personal achievement. “I” am the goal of being successful. Significance, however, focuses on generosity, service, and relationships. The focus becomes outward, on giving rather than receiving and making an impact on others rather than self-centered pursuits. Blanchard and Cathy write:
“You will know you have truly attained significance by the sincerity of your generosity, the joy you find in service, and by the selfless nature of your relationships. You will know by the depth of your changed heart”
The law enforcement profession is, by its very nature, a profession of service. We are public servants. Each day we are presented with opportunities to serve others, build relationships, and impact lives. Sometimes giving comes through a kind gesture to one who is hurting, grace to one who deserves punishment, a word of encouragement to a struggling co-worker, monetary donations, or more.
Let me be clear. Salvation or standing with God does not come through what we give or by good works. But, when we receive His gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, the fruit or evidence of our changed hearts and lives will be demonstrated through our faithfulness to God and generosity to others.
Let me encourage you today to experience the generosity factor. Experience the blessing and fulfillment of giving your tithes to God and of yourself to others. Soon you will find out that “you can’t beat God-giving.” You can’t ever out-give God and He will never be indebted to us. Whether it is through financial return, answered prayers, strength, or other spiritual reward, God will always bestow blessing upon us in much greater measure than we gave.
“Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” (Malachi 3:10, NIV).