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Ruth was very excited. She had finally come to know and understand what God needed her to learn and change in her current circumstances. After her conversation with Josy and Nathan, she examined her list of prayer points which she told God about every prayer session and added a prayer point for God to help her change and become the person God created her to be.
Not long after she started those prayers, her eyes were opened and she started to see that the broke-ness she was worried about was actually not as bad as she thought it was. She realized that her business had acquired some new clients recently and she was busy. So far, she had managed to keep her business afloat as she collected enough fees to make ends meet. Her perspective of the broke-ness she was stressed about started to change as she realized that she still had enough money to do special things for herself and her children.
Most of all, she came to realize that what God wanted her to learn and change had to do with her attitude towards giving.
Ruth came to a realization that the level of poverty in the world dictates that everyone who God entrusts more than enough money to must avoid excess and give as much as possible to those who are less fortunate.
“Most people do not budget for giving. A typical budget includes things like – rent, utilities, food, fuel/transport, entertainment etc. Although I do not write out a budget every month, I have the budget in my mind and as far as giving is concerned, I only give when I am asked. I tithe in church and then if someone is getting married and wants support or there is a harambee, I give. But I do not have a monthly budget for giving,” said Ruth as she explained her recent experience to Sara.
She continued to tell Sara, her mum, how her househelp asked her to buy for her ugali flour when she went to do the grocery shopping and how she felt terrible thinking that that was all her househelp was hoping to take home that week while Ruth was shopping for a trolley-full of groceries. When Ruth compared her needs with the needs of her househelp, she decided to pay rent for her househelp. Still she felt that God wanted her to be more giving than that.
She had heard that there are people who give away more than 80% of their salary and maintain their living standards at only 20% of the salary. Ruth was yet to reach that kind of generosity. She was also cautious about being too giving because she had been told that excessive generosity is sometimes a symptom of mental illness.
Ruth got confused about how giving she was meant to be. She did not want to lower her standard of living. She could not bear the sight of her children’s faces if she moved them to a cheaper school so that she could give away the surplus school fees or if she moved to an apartment or if she stopped taking them on holiday.
At the same time, she looked at her househelp who was such a good person and asked herself what it was she had done that entitled her to the lifestyle she had as compared to her househelp’s.
“Sweetheart, your Dad and I give as much as we can. The measure of how much you should give is in your heart. You cannot give to the point of being left with nothing and you cannot give to the point of being miserable yourself. God loves a cheerful giver. So what you do is follow your heart. When your heart tells you to give, go ahead and give. Sometimes you might give ridiculously and find yourself questioning why you did that. But if your heart tells you it is the right thing to do, be cheerful and thank God that you were able to give,” advised Sara.
2 Corinthians 9:6-7 – 6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
“Mum, you know there have been times when I have emptied my wallet and given all the cash I had on me. In those times, I have been so sure that I needed to do that. So I understand what you mean about me following my heart when it comes to giving. Thank you for that advice. I now understand that from now on, I must follow my heart and give when I know it will be my pleasure to give. I thank God that I have the ability to give instead of being the one who needs to be given, relying on the generosity of others to survive. Its sad that we do not give enough to end poverty. If we gave as much as our hearts told us to, the world would be a much better place to live in,” responded Ruth.