A Look at the Importance of Giving
The way you handle your money is a barometer that measures your commitment to yourself and others.
You've all heard the old platitude "It's better to give than to receive" many times. And honestly, I've never heard one person deny this statement or argue its validity, but I still suspect we don't mean it all the time. I'll confess; I like to receive. I really like to receive.
And I admit that sometimes giving – sacrificing my own resources for the sake of others – doesn't appeal either. Often, when I buy a gift for someone, this idea runs through my head: "Hmmm, there goes XX hours of work." What a selfish thought! When this happens, I've got to catch myself and be reminded of a simple truth.
Either you control your money–or your money controls you.
Now, I'm not here to preach that money is the root of all evil; it's actually quite necessary to life. But, money represents more than the mere means to buy stuff.
Think of money as a barometer that measures your commitment to yourself vs. others. Just as a thermometer gauges the degree of temperature, your financial management measures the degree of love/care/commitment toward those around you.
So the question becomes: Where is your money going?
Here's a proposition–no, a challenge. Take a couple weeks and keep all your receipts. Add them up at the end, and categorize them. (Suggested categories: bills, food, entertainment, gifts, gas, etc.) This will provide you direction on where your money is going, and the results may surprise you.
Find out what percentage of your budget benefits others. This is important to know because your level of giving usually reveals a lot about your values–what you treasure.
I know that idea has been drilled into your head since kindergarten, but it's true. If your family owns a car, you are statistically one of the wealthiest people in the world. And because we are so blessed, it should be a privilege to provide not only for your family and friends–but to the less fortunate as well.
There are so many opportunities to do this, especially during Christmas season. Generosity can come in many forms; it's impossible to avoid the jolly Santa Claus at Wal-Mart or Shop 'N Save. You can donate to the Salvation Army, give offerings to your local church or provide food/clothing to programs for the needy.
Another important note: give sincerely. Don't do it because of guilt or because some columnist said you should. Give freely, with a cheerful heart, knowing that a relatively small sacrifice of extra spending money could clothe or feed an entire family.
Giving is a powerful tool, a means to express unconditional compassion to those you love–and those you don't know. Are you willing to sacrifice a little part of yourself, even to assist someone you will never know?
I'm living proof that it's easy to become egocentric and self-centered–even during Christmas. But we can all learn something by contradicting human nature and "giving" it a try (pun desperately intended). Using your blessings and abundance to provide for others who are less fortunate establishes what you truly value and treasure, which defines your character.
Because where your treasure lies, there your heart does also.