This prayer to develop a giving heart will help you align with God’s plan for you to help others less fortunate.

A Story about Giving from My Father’s Life

My father told me a story that has stuck with me for many years about a memorable lesson on giving that he learned one Christmas from his dad, Earl.  A man who only made it through the 8th grade, he married my grandmother, Helen, April 17, 1938, and my dad was born in August of 1939.  Earl was a farmer and it really was his life.  He cared for his numerous animals over the years, and farmed the three-hundred-plus acres of land that he and grandma owned, including a farmhouse several miles out of town.  I knew him to be tough and strong, a man of few words; but there was a hidden softer side to him.

The story goes that my dad, as a boy in the post-war 1940’s, went to town one Christmas Eve with his family.  The trip was for dad and his younger brother, Carl, to get haircuts and wait in the barber shop while my grandparents did some Christmas shopping.  The barber shop belonged to some family members, and the boys were entertained by a large stack of comic books.  When his parents were done shopping they retrieved the boys from the shop and headed home.  The purchase of toys didn’t go unnoticed by my dad, who had snuck a peak at the box in the trunk.

Later that evening, as my Grandma Helen set up and decorated the live Fir Christmas tree, Earl asked for my dad to come with him because they had an errand to run.  Dad put on his winter coat and boots, and headed out to the car with Earl.  They drove down to a house that the family rented out to another family.  Dad and Grandpa exited the car and went to the door.  Earl knocked on the door.  A woman answered, and she let them in.

Upon entering, Earl went with the lady of the house into the kitchen and dad was left in the living room.  Here’s how he described the inside of the home:

“It was a bare home.  There was a chair by the door, a couch along the wall.  On the far wall was a Christmas tree; a cedar tree from the woods that was short and wide, with one string of popcorn from top to bottom. There  was a star cut from a cereal box wrapped with tin foil from cigarette packages, clipped on with a wooden clothespin.”

“Dad and the lady came into the living room and I asked about Christmas presents for her boys.  ‘Yes,’ she said, ‘the boys will get a toy airplane and a candy bar.’ 

‘Whoa!’  I thought, ‘That’s not very much.’  

Dad said to me, ‘Go to the car and get that box.’ 

I started to complain, but the look on Dad’s face said ‘GET MOVING!’  I started out the door and stomped out to the car, threw open the trunk and snow fell on me, down my neck.  After digging the snow out of my clothes and coat I returned with the box and set it down, turned on my heel, went back to the car, where I sat and pouted. Dad came out to the car a few minutes later and we started home.  I sat with my face to the side window. 

‘What’s the matter,’ he asked, ‘did you think that box of toys was for you?’ 

‘Yes, I did!’ I said in a hurt voice.  

He kind of chuckled, backed out of the driveway and turned the car toward the farmhouse.”

My grandparents had gone to town and bought presents for a needy family.  Earl took my dad along because my dad needed to learn a life lesson.  There are going to be people who are having a harder time than you are.  That’s where a Christian should be the one to step up and help fill needs in the lives of those struggling.

And yes, Dad and Carl did have a good Christmas:

“Around 3am my brother punched me in the ribs and wanted to go look and see the Christmas presents Santa left for us. ‘No,’ I said, ‘there is nothing there.’  He left and went down stairs and came back. ‘You gotta see this!’ 

I finally went down and there was a most beautiful array of toys and presents under our beautiful tree.”

Lessons from the Bible on Developing a Giving Heart

In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses wrote instructions that the entire Jewish nation was expected to follow:

“At the end of every three years you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in the same year and lay it up within your towns. And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.”  (Deuteronomy 14:28-29, ESV)

“For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.”  (Deuteronomy 15:11 ESV)

King Solomon said:

“Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.” (Proverbs 14:31, ESV)

“Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.” (Proverbs 19:17, ESV)

Many years later the prophet Zechariah delivered these words from the Lord:

Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.”  (Zechariah 7:9-10 ESV)

James, the brother of Jesus wrote:

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:27 ESV)

Applying these Scriptures to developing a giving heart

My grandfather is not a hero for delivering those toys.  He was simply following the principle clearly found in Scripture that says to take care of those around you, especially those who are poor and in need.  It was a lesson that my dad learned and one that he taught to me.  I will never forget it.  Over the years of being married to Kelly, we have provided for the needs of poor children who have come through her classroom.  It’s not a medal that we were on our chests, or something for a banner to hang in our home.  Providing for those in need is a way of life, and how we choose to share the goodness of God with others.  We give out of the abundance of what we have.

My mom and dad are still giving people.  It’s a way of life that we have followed because the Bible is clear that we should live this way.

Many of you reading this article are able to help others during the holiday seasons.  You have an abundance and can offer to help those around you who are in need.  If you’re not sure who to help, ask your local church about giving and serving those in need.  There are many Christian and secular organizations who always need help during the holiday seasons.  Remember that we will have to answer for how we helped those in need around us.  It was Jesus who spoke the following words:

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”  (Matthew 25:34-40, ESV)

Prayer to Develop a Giving Heart 

Father, we know that you hold everything together, and have given us all that we have.  We have more than we could ask for or want.  We know it is You who provides, You who blesses.  Now, take what we have and use it to bless others who are in greater need than us.  In everything that we do, may it be for Your glory and not our own.  May Your goodness and kindness be magnified in all that we do.  For the sake of Your holy name, amen.”

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