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There are so many out there who are hurting financially and this time of the year can easily make it even more painful for them. Whether the fact that it is near Winter or that Christmas is near, many feel the pain of need more now than at other time. Many also feel more generous at this time of the year. It’s good the two overlap, isn’t it?

My family has, at times, known immense financial struggles and at times we have had the chance to occasionally be a blessing to others, so I have been on both the giving end and the receiving end of giving; I have experienced both the doing and the being done for. I love the rushing joy that comes with being the giver; the knowledge that you are a small part of blessing someone’s life. Also, I have appreciated the love that prompted the giving to me and to my family during times of deep need; the kindness that put food on the table, clothes on our backs and, at times, provided Christmas gifts for my family.

Not everyone is graced by God with being on both sides of the giving experience. If you haven’t been a giver, I would tell you to try it and experience the joy and the blessing that comes with it. If you haven’t been the give-ee, I would offer you a word of advice:

See the needy as individuals not as a cause or as numbers. And, please understand that not everyone who is in need is in need because of foolishness; some are but not all. For some, poverty has been brought on by an economic downturn. For others, their financial problems are the result of a family member’s illness that drove them to, and then beyond, what they could afford to pay. For still others, especially some women and children, the fault lies with a foolish husband or father who failed to plan, failed to act or who simply walked out; perhaps she, the mother, the wife, is doing all she can to make pennies stretch to cover what dollars are needed for.

There are reasons that only the good Lord knows that led someone down the pathway no one wants to travel. No matter what the cause of the need, the need remains the same. Need is cold and harsh and cruel. Need knows no racial boundaries, makes no distinction between country or city folks. It can strike anyone at anytime. Please keep these things in mind if you give to others this year.

Also, please remember the give-ee’s feelings for their feelings, like yours, can be tender and bruise from embarrassment easily. It can be downright embarrassing to be in need and many, I daresay most, who are  in need will not make their need openly obvious to others. It is here that we must carefully examine circumstances, listen, look and, most importantly, follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. When you are prompted by Him to give, please do so with grace. I have experienced the kindness of being given to by those who let me know the blessedness that they felt, the love of God that prompted them and the accepting was sweet and without embarrassment (and, I pray, that is the kind of giver I have been). I have also known giving that comes from the hands of those who have no knowledge of how to give or who made it feel like they had no choice (and thus we were a burden) and was left feeling humiliated and small and looked down upon.

Therefore, if you are blessed with the opportunity to be a giver this year, please do so with a smile and with joy and for the glory of God alone. The gift is only yours to give because it has been given to you by His hand.

If you are blessed by God to know need this year, please know that the need comes by His providence and is for your good; let your dependence be on God alone. Trust in Him and accept all blessings, all gifts from others, as if they flow from His hand alone–for they surely do. 

And remember, whichever side you are on, the giver or the give-ee, it is for your good and His glory that you have been brought to this. Thank the Lord for the privilege.