This month (June) our church launched a “Love Your Neighbor” campaign where we are focusing on raising $700,000 of the over $923,000 that makes up our annual budget for outreach and care ministries. This includes everything from emergency financial assistance to our food pantry to staff to building homes in Mexico to establishing a self-sustaining, indigenous church among the one million unreached Awingi hill people in Ethiopia.
I love being part of a church family that cares deeply about our neighbors here and around the world. The best is that it can be contagious.
A few nights ago at the dinner table the topic of allowances came up. In our house each of our kids allowance is based on age and they get one dollar for each year. Our daughter is about to turn eight and was excited about both her birthday money and huge bump in allowance (yes, from $7/month to $8/month).
You also need to know that each month they must split their allowance into three banks. First, the spend bank where they put money they can spend at their discretion. Second, the save bank where they must save a percentage. Third, a share bank where they must put a portion to give back to God.
In the midst of all this money talk, our daughter declared that she would be giving 50% of her share money to Haiti and the other 50% to Japan to help all those people after the earthquakes. Usually her declarations involve not eating her food or that her life is completely miserable. This was a joyful change. Then she went one step further and asked if she could also give away her birthday money.
My seven, almost eight year-old, had something to teach me. In that simple question and desire to give, I discovered three traits of how I can love my neighbor.
1. Be aware of the needs around you.
Our daughter had heard about the need in Haiti and Japan and remembered the need. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and miss the needs all around us. Lift your head up, get out of your own stuff and look into the eyes of people you see everyday. Ask God what He needs you to do and who He needs you to be through His Holy Spirit. Then I can see what God is doing in me!
2. Be aware of what God is doing in you.
Our daughter had a sense that to be giving and compassionate is an attribute of God’s love. The more I’ve become aware of the needs around me, the more I have recognized my own needs before God. At this point a great sense of humility and awareness of God’s glory settles over me. Here is where I find myself trusting God most deeply. Then I can freely respond!
3. Share what God has given you.
Our daughter couldn’t help but give what she had once a need and God’s love came together. When we live in deep trust of God and we see the needs around us, we can’t help but respond. With the Holy Spirit as our guide, we can give cheerfully and sacrificially of our time, money and abilities as unto the Lord. Then I am loving that I’m loving my neighbor.
Our kids have a lot to teach us in living with a childlike faith…especially when it comes to money. It was so easy and natural for our daughter to respond to the need as a compassionate child of God. May I never get so wrapped up in being an adult that I miss the chance to love my neighbor.