Here’s the truth about me. I am selfish, greedy, sometimes jealous, sometimes envious, prone to wander, prone to stray, often without a self controlled tongue, sinner. When I look in the mirror the Holy Spirit sets in front of me, this is what I see in my natural self.
Just yesterday, Princess had her first performance at church. I suggested that Daniel save us some seats because he was going early with Princess, but when I arrived all the seats close to the stage where I could easily see my little preschooler were already taken, and no seats were saved. I selfishly wanted a better seat, and it was only for self that I wanted that better seat. Not a drop of godliness was in that desire, and the Holy Spirit was quick to remind me of that. I was not quick to change into a spirit of humility however.
And when it comes to parenting, I am jealous of those who appear to be perfect and those who appear to have perfect children. I want some sort of perfection in my life too. I am reminded that Jesus IS the perfect person in my life and that if my child were perfect, I would sit down and worship one of them instead of the Savior, which is idolatry. No child and no parent is perfect. Only Christ is our perfect gift and Savior. Read a great post about parenting myths here (unfortunately the giveaway has passed).
I have been digging Heidi’s blog lately. She wrote a great post about the Spirit of Christmas and about how we should give sacrificially. I have read and reread her post. At the risk of sharing too much, we made a commitment to our church last year to give money to our church over the course of 3 years. The amount we pledged was for us a God-sized pledge. At the time, I thought maybe we could have given more, but I followed my husband’s leadership.
At first we didn’t honor our commitment and give to it regularly. Shortly thereafter, the economy fell hard and it affected us too. We thought we could count on bonuses to help us give our pledge, but there is no guarantee of a bonus, so we are now giving our money as we receive it. This has demanded us to make changes in our lifestyle of which we are still working on. I no longer have internet on my cell phone. We technically should not eat out anymore. For Christmas, we are making gifts as opposed to spending a lot of money on gifts, and the kids are receiving gifts I bought on consignment. I share this only because through this, I continue to learn how very selfish I am, especially when it comes to food and things for the kids. We continue to make poor decisions to eat out when we should not. And honestly, we continue to watch cable TV when I’m not sure that we should really pay for it anymore. While the pledge we initially made did not seem to be a sacrificial gift, God is using it to teach us about sacrifice.
A friend shared with me a story she had heard about Mark Driscoll’s parents – he said that when he was young, his parents would always give when they saw needs, giving not just old coats they could find out of their closet, but buying new ones for the children they found without coats. He said that sometimes this meant that at dinner the children would eat while the parents were not able. Now that is what I call selfLESS sacrificial giving. And that’s the kind of heart I hope to have and to learn as I continue to figure out how to give sacrificially to God and to those who have needs. I need to remember to give good gifts to those who are needy, not just leftovers, as Heidi mentioned people often do.
I don’t know if God will bless me monetarily through my giving, and that’s not why I give. I give to honor God. And I know that He is already teaching me to slough off selfishness, pride, and the like, but I am far off from perfection, and God continues to be my ultimate teacher, confidante, and friend. The only thing that differentiates me from someone who does not know God is my relationship with Him. He talks to me, and I talk to Him. He is absolute perfection, and I am a sinner like we all are. In our relationship, He corrects me and helps me to change. He sets me free from guilt because I am covered by His blood. I am forgiven.
By the way, there is a great children’s book that teaches about doing away with a selfish heart to have a heart of sacrificial giving – The Three Gifts of Christmas by Jennie Bishop. It is awesome!