及時享受給予的祝福──ENJOY THE BLESSING OF GIVING WHILE YOU CAN

「給予」,這個話題可能會激起各式各樣的情緒。對一些人來說,它產生了非常大的喜樂,甚至是幸福,知道它可以為別人帶來好處。而對另一些人來說,它卻會造成沮喪;由於經濟資源有限,一些人覺得,他們甚至連自己的需要都無法滿足,更不用說經由給予來幫助別人了。但是對於我們這些,渴望跟隨並順服 神的人來說,給予其實不是一種選擇。

奉命要去行善。我們在提摩太前書第6章18節被命令說:「又要囑咐他們行善,在好事上富足,甘心施捨,樂意供給( – 或譯:體貼)人」。給予檢驗著我們對主和他人的愛是否真誠。「我說這話,不是吩咐你們,乃是藉著別人的熱心,試驗你們愛心的實在。」(哥林多後書8章8節)

給予也考驗著我們是否願意相信上帝的信實。上帝能將各樣的恩惠多多地加給你們,使你們凡事常常充足,能多行各樣善事。」(哥林多後書9章8節在聖靈的引導下,你可以更加地成為歡喜和感恩的給予者,使主的心得到喜悅。祂一直對你都很信實;而透過你的慷慨,你也可以對祂越來越忠心。

給予要有急迫感。我們應該給出現在我們所能給的,而不是存夠之後才多給。以後可能就太晚了。史蒂夫•詹姆斯在他的《成為真實》(暫譯)一書中談到了生命的不確定性,並鼓勵人們充分地利用每一天和每一週。詹姆斯的意圖不是讓他的讀者感到沮喪或灰心;他只是想點醒他們,每個人都會在某個事情的過程中逝去。

有人在去牙醫診所或度假後,開車回程中去世;在洗澡或看電視的過程中去世;在修剪草坪、烤肉或享受一夜好眠的過程中去世。也有人在爭吵、怨恨;夢想、計劃、職涯;頭痛、心痛甚至求婚中去世。

我們不會在我們期待的時候死亡,甚至還是在願望全部實現或目標完成之後。大多數人都是在,我們以為自己不會死的過程中,就去世了 。即便我們活得好像明天一定會來,而且生命會永遠持續下去一樣。

有意識地生活和給予。活著就是禮物,死亡也是確定。這應該會驅使我們有意識地生活和有意識地給予。我經常聽到有人說:「你有大好的人生在前面等著你!」 只是,我們全部的人生,並不一定會在我們前面繼續下去。我們只能確定到今天為止,才剛剛「活過了全部」的人生。我們前面的道路仍然是一個謎,生命可能在任何時刻就結束了。

反思我們生命的短暫和脆弱,可能會讓人清醒。而對那些,希望主從自己生命中獲得最大榮耀的基督徒來說,也是有益的。我們不願浪費機會,而要充分利用神託付給我們的生命和禮物。正如一位智者曾經說過的:「人的生命,很快就會過去;只有為基督所做的才會長久。」

不要讓時間溜走,放棄了為神和神國,大膽地生活和給予的祝福。正如加拉太書6章10節所說:「所以,有了機會就當向眾人行善,向信徒一家的人更當這樣。」

奧斯汀•普賴爾有超過40年為投資者提供建議的經驗,是《健全心靈投資》電子期刊和網站的創始人。他也是《健全心靈投資手冊》的作者,該書得到了受人尊敬的基督教教師的認可,銷量超過10萬冊。奧斯汀與他結婚54年的妻子蘇茜現住在肯塔基州的路易斯維爾。

備註:如果你 有聖經,想閱讀更多相關經文,可參考(因篇幅有限,請檢閱未列出的經文:箴言18:16、25:14、林後8:1-15、林後9:13-15)
箴言3章27-28節
3:27 你手若有行善的力量,不可推辭,就當向那應得的人施行。
3:28 你那裏若有現成的,不可對鄰舍說:去吧,明天再來,我必給你。
箴言11章24-25節
11:24 有施散的,卻更增添;有吝惜過度的,反致窮乏。
11:25 好施捨的,必得豐裕;滋潤人的,必得滋潤。
使徒行傳20章35節
20:35 我凡事給你們作榜樣,叫你們知道應當這樣勞苦,扶助軟弱的人,又當記念主耶穌的話,說:『施比受更為有福。』」
哥林多後書9章6-12節
9:6 「少種的少收,多種的多收」,這話是真的。
9:7 各人要隨本心所酌定的,不要作難,不要勉強,因為捐得樂意的人是上帝所喜愛的。
9:8 上帝能將各樣的恩惠多多地加給你們,使你們凡事常常充足,能多行各樣善事。
9:9 如經上所記:他施捨錢財,賙濟貧窮;他的仁義存到永遠。
9:10 那賜種給撒種的,賜糧給人吃的,必多多加給你們種地的種子,又增添你們仁義的果子;
9:11 叫你們凡事富足,可以多多施捨,就藉著我們使感謝歸於上帝。
9:12 因為辦這供給的事,不但補聖徒的缺乏,而且叫許多人越發感謝上帝。

反省與問題討論

  1. 無論是在教會的環境中,或是當你收到某個要你奉獻的請求信件、電話或個人拜訪,談到給予的話題時,你的典型反應是什麽?
  2. 當你讀到神命令我們給予時,這是否讓你更願意給予或仍然不願意,甚至有些抗拒?請解釋一下你的答案。
  3. 有急迫性的現在就給予,而不是等以後有機會才給。用這種方式的慈善奉獻有什麽優點和缺點?
  4. 對神會供應的信心,多大程度上影響你的給予決定?你是否曾經猶豫過,要不要為一個有價值的事奉獻,但卻又覺得自己沒有能力這樣做?請解釋你的答案?


ENJOY THE BLESSING OF GIVING WHILE YOU CAN

By Austin Pryor 

Giving. This topic stirs a variety of emotions. For some, it creates great joy – even happiness – knowing the benefits it can provide for others. For others, it causes frustration; having limited financial resources, some people feel they can barely meet their own needs, let alone give to help others. But for those of us who desire to follow and be obedient to God, giving is not an option.

Commanded to do good. We are commanded in 1 Timothy 6 to “do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.” Giving tests the sincerity of our love for the Lord and others: “I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others” (2 Corinthians 8:8).

Giving also tests our willingness to trust in God’s faithfulness: “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8). Under the direction of the Holy Spirit, you can increasingly become the kind of cheerful and grateful giver who delights The Lord’s heart. He’s always been faithful to you; by your generosity, you can be increasingly faithful to Him.

Give with a sense of urgency. We should what we can now, rather than saving up to give more later. Later may be too late. In his book, Becoming Real, Steven James talks about the uncertainty of life and encourages making the most of every day, every week. James’ intent is not to depress or discourage his readers; he is trying to wake them up: Because everyone dies in the midst of something.

People die in the midst of going to the dentist’s office or driving home from vacation; taking a shower or watching TV; mowing the lawn or barbecuing or enjoying a good night’s sleep. People die in the midst of arguments, grudges, dreams, plans, careers, headaches, heartaches, and courtships.

We don’t die when we expect to die – after our aspirations have all come true or we have achieved everything we intended. Most of us die in the midst of pretending we will never die, living as if tomorrow were guaranteed and this life will last forever.

Being intentional in living and giving. Life is a gift. Death is a certainty. This should prompt us to be intentional in our living – and intentional in our giving. I have often heard people say things like, “You have your whole life in front of you!” We do not have our whole lives ahead of us – we have our whole lives, up to that point, behind us. What we have ahead is a mystery, knowing it could be over at any moment.

It may be sobering to reflect on the brevity and frailty of our lives, but it can also be beneficial for followers of Jesus Christ who want the Lord to receive the greatest glory possible from their lives. We do not want to waste opportunities to make the most of the life and gifts God has entrusted to us. As a wise man once said, “just one life, will soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Do not let the time slip by, forfeiting the blessing of living and giving boldly for God and the advancement of His kingdom. As Galatians 6:10 says, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially those who belong to the family of believers.”

Austin Pryor has more than 40 years of experience advising investors and is the founder of the Sound Mind Investing newsletter and website. He’s the author of The Sound Mind Investing Handbook, which enjoys the endorsements of respected Christian teachers with more than 100,000 copies sold. Austin lives in Louisville, Kentucky, with Susie, his wife of 54 years.

Reflection/Discussion Questions

  1. What is your typical response when the subject of giving comes up, whether in a church setting or when you receive a fund appeal letter, phone call or personal visit from someone asking you to give to their cause?
  2. When you read that we are commanded to give by God, does that make you feel more inclined to give – or do you remain reluctant, or even resistant at times? Explain your answer.
  3. The urgency to give now, rather than waiting for a later opportunity: What are the advantages and disadvantages of taking this approach to charitable giving?
  4. To what degree does confidence in God’s provision factor into your giving decisions? Do you ever hesitate to give to a worthy cause, feeling uncertain that you can afford to do so? Why or why not?   

NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages:     Proverbs 3:27-28, 11:24-25, 18:16, 25:14; Acts 20:35; 2 Corinthians 8:1-15; 9:6-15


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