It’s nearing the end-of-year, which means it’s a good time to reflect and consider how next year is going to change. Maybe around the 31st I’ll do an official post, but for today, this is what I have decided I need to do – give more.
Luke 12:48 –
Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.
And I know I have been given so much. To be born in Singapore – just imagine, a few hundred kilometres to the left/right or north/south, and my life would be so different. To be born into a middle-income family. To be born whole and healthy (in the material eyes of the world, that is). To have had no family or severe academic so far. All of which I had nothing to do with; nothing I did to deserve it.
And most of all – I have grace. I have in Him all spiritual blessings (Eph 1:3).
The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.
The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for He has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.
All His. My body, my breath, my life, my belongings, my abilities, my blessings – all His. And so how much of it have I given? Trevin Wax describes it thus: there are ‘sink-Christians’, those who take grace and salvation; they soak it in; then there are ‘faucet-Christians’, where the blessings of salvation flow out and through them to the wider world. Which am I? What am I hoarding that isn’t mine? Manna comes in the morning.
I think of the measly, broken rags I have offered to Him.
My money: So I sponsor two children with Compassion – but that’s only $100 a month in total. My pocket money is 5 times that, and my tuition earnings another 5. I tithe and give to CF and I give notes to children with tin cans in the stifling uniforms under the scorching sun. I buy things – food, gifts, Christian books, art materials – for CF, for my kids in church, for my girls in GB. But what else? How much have I kept and used for myself, on things that do not last? How many of those things have eventually found their way into my rubbish bin and down the chute and away from my mind – I think my guilt will disappear that way too – when it could have done so much more? When so many others could have been better blessed?
My time: Saturday mornings for GB. Sunday mornings-lunch for church. Tuesday evenings for CF. 5-7 hours a week in between preparing for Bible Studies or songs or stories or crafts or games for all the above, and add in a couple more hours for reading Christian books and articles and sharing the wisdom with fellow brothers and sisters. Then I count my hours in school, in class or doing tutorials or chionging projects. My hours at home, staring at a Facebook feed – the notification button for number of likes, maybe? – as if it holds unsearchable treasures (when I know what really does that – see Eph 3:8), when in reality… (left open). My hours lolling about reading books that do not edify my mind or my speech or my thoughts or my deeds. My hours sleeping – I guess losing it for projects is okay, everything else is not – when I wasn’t really lacking in it.
This is it. It seems alright. Proportional. Maybe more than some others do.
But a giving should be a sacrifice.
C. S. Lewis –
I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc, is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them.
I’ve failed every test in that short paragraph.
Small steps; so here goes –
1. Just got back into contact with ISCOS, to get trained as soon as possible so I can start mentoring children who are affected by incarceration (of their parents and caretakers).
2. To actually take time once a month to write to my Compassion kids. Giving money is easy, especially when it’s a credit card deduct-automatically-monthly thing. But to love through giving them time and energy in the form of letters and paper gifts is totally different.
3. To invest more time to the kids who are already under my care. For my youths, to go beyond Bible Study and probing questions and jokes about my bad cooking, to be a true mentor, someone they can turn to and talk to. For my girls in GB, to know them beyond their names and their behaviour and which badges they’ve already received.
4. To consider if I should contact Eden School to volunteer – it’s a 10-minute walk away, I have no excuse.
5. To not take up any more tuition (aside from the one I have now) so that I have time and energy for the above. And to think more about giving than about earning.
6. To think deeper about how the church can better serve the neighbourhood around us, and put into place actions, or mini-steps to do so.
7. To spend a lot more time with my family and with H. Because one of the greatest lessons I’ve learnt this year is – love is intentional and love is relentless. And although it’s often the hardest to show love to the ones closest to us, I’m going to try to do it, by His grace.
I think 7 is enough for now. May these come to fruition; may it not just be my actions and mind that are changed, but my heart and soul as I seek more and more to give as I’ve been given.