Last November I read 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excessby Jen Hatmaker, and I loved it. I highly recommend that you all read it. However, it is not the kind of book one can read without acting on it. Shortly thereafter I was watching The Muppet Christmas Carolwith my kids (a family favorite from my childhood), and I felt convicted yet again. I have been a frugal person since childhood, but as I watched Scrooge I could see the other side of my penny-pinching ways. I longed to be generous like Jen and give out of my excess, and I longed to leave a legacy of generosity instead of legacy of stinginess.
Then, in December, Brad’s salary was reduced by 25% and I became fearful that we were returning to April 2010, when our salary was reduced and we were eventually laid off. I was angry at God for convicting me on generosity just moments before taking away a portion of our income. But as I read my Bible each day, I saw Paul celebrating those who gave despite their poor circumstances. So I began to look for ways to be generous, in spite of our deficit. For all I know, we will always be scraping by, and I don’t want to wait around the rest of my life in hopes that someday I’ll have enough of a surplus to be generous. Here are a few ways that I have found to be generous, even when you’re just scraping by:
- Give a meal: Our church uses the website Take Them A Meal to organize meal deliveries for families in our church.
- Give your freebies: We had a surplus of freebies in our medicine cabinet, so I found a friend who needed them.
- Give your time: My husband took our Young Life kids Christmas Caroling around our neighborhood, and made a lot of new friends.
- Give your talents: I’ve been helping my husband with the administrative chores of his job so that he can focus on the other things that need his attention.
- Give your knowledge: My sister was fundraising for an 11-month mission trip, and was selling items on eBay and Amazon as a fundraiser. I was able to help her with my knowledge of these two websites.
- Give your home: Our family often hosts Young Life events, but we also host friends and family when they visit.
- Give your transportation: When a friend’s car broke down recently, we offered a ride.
Last week I was again lamenting that we didn’t have enough money to give as much as I would like to give. Minutes later, a friend showed up unannounced and asked to borrow an item from our garage. I enjoyed God’s sense of humor. We’re on 75% salary again this month and next, and yet God keeps giving me opportunities to give. I was thrilled to be able to give my friend exactly what she needed, and God stopped my complaints. If you long to be generous on a limited budget, I challenge you to start looking around for creative ways to be generous. You may find there are more ways to be generous than you ever imagined!
What ways have you discovered to be generous when you are just scraping by?