Thanksgiving is a strange time in America, for it affords many Americans an opportunity to practice spiritual disciplines without knowing that these are spiritual disciplines in the first place. During Thanksgiving Americans will slow down, pause, reflect, and command our souls to give thanks for that which we have received in the previous year. Many will pray for the only time in a calendar year. Others will gather with family and friends and practice community for the first time.
Some will even reflect, “Gee, this is nice. I wish we could be more like this throughout the year.”
If this was your sentiment after leaving the Thanksgiving day table, then you are in luck. You can practice these Thanksgiving disciplines throughout the year. And one of the ways you can increase in your thankfulness is to increase in your giving.
A few weeks ago I gave a little sermonette about giving to my congregation (see the video above). The basic idea behind this sermonette is that we experience a tension between giving and lifestyle. We can either privilege lifestyle and give out of the remainder of our disposable cash or we can privilege giving and live out of the remainder of our giving fund.
Now, before you say, “That seems irresponsible to not consider lifestyle first!” let me just make this point:
In the last year, I have said “Man, I ate too much” or “Man, I spent too much money” more often than I care to admit. My suspicion is that many readers have done the same. What this means, in effect, is that I often regret my lifestyle choices. I regret eating too much and spending too much.
However, I never regret giving too much. I have never met anyone who says, “I regret giving to Compassion International and seeing a child break the chains of institutional poverty.” I have never met a person who says, “I regret funding that missionary couple and seeing all the life transforming work done in that particular country or among that people group.”
When it comes down to it, I often regret living too much. I never regret giving too much.
So, if you want to have Thanksgiving year round…might I suggest prioritizing “giving” in the next calendar year? Why don’t you try to give until it hurts your lifestyle and then watch as your restricted lifestyle drives you to gather with other friends and family members to express thankfulness on a more regular occasion.
If you are going to regret something next Thanksgiving, may it be that you ate too much turkey, not that you gave too much to Kingdom causes.
Looking for some specific ways to practice giving? Here are some Kingdom causes that are close to my heart:
Christian Neighbor’s Church, a multi-ethnic community helping the least of these in Waukegan, IL.
Hoops for Hope International, using basketball camps to spread a message of hope across the globe.
Nathan and Christine Smith, working with ACA to provide top-flight medical care to rural parts of India.
Regina White, building relationships with college students in Slovakia in hopes of transforming a new generation for Christ in Europe.
LifePoint Church Missions, we partner with local churches in places like the Philippines and Haiti to plant churches that plant churches.