A big Thank You to every one of you who took part in PV’s Adopt-A-Family this past Christmas! If you’ve participated, you know what a blessing this can be not only the families you are giving to, but for you and your group as well! I’m reminded of Jesus’ paradoxical statement, quoted by Paul in Acts 20:35: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” From a purely human standpoint that just doesn’t make sense; which is probably why I was so struck by the incredible way we saw this truth lived out in our community group the first time we adopted a family. Unfortunately, I have to admit I approached the opportunity as purely a chance to bless a family in need; overlooking how God might want to use this experience to change us!
Though we were a fairly new group, still trying to establish relationships and trust within the group, it was apparent that there was one couple in our group that did not have the same level of income as most of the others. So as I shared about Adopt-A-Family and the opportunity we had to give to another family, I was cautious not to place any expectation of participation—this was totally voluntary and I didn’t want anyone to feel obligated to give anything.
Being our first time at this, I tried to be fairly conservative or “realistic” in how much I expected our combined amount might be; but I was blown away when we finally did collect the money. Their generosity not just exceeded my expectation, but did so about four times over! But what was most humbling was who contributed what. By far, the largest contribution had been from the couple I considered the least likely of even being able to contribute. In fact, they gave almost as much as all the others combined!
I was humbled by their simple act of obedience. They had been saving money for some time in order to purchase a much needed different vehicle; however, as they prayed about what to give to our adopted family (a single mom, who’d had to leave most of their possessions behind in order to escape an abusive relationship), they felt that God was leading them to give this amount for someone else in much greater need!
Seeing God at work in these friends’ lives was a “gut-check” moment for me. While my decision to give was almost an after-thought, they had prayerfully pursued what He would have them give. While I had given what was convenient, they had trusted God in order to give sacrificially.
As a result of wrestling with that I realized in a fresh way the scope of God’s refining work in our lives. In my short-sightedness I thought this was just about us blessing a needy family; yet I had not considered the transformational potential of faithful obedience in another’s life being the catalyst for God changing my heart condition!
This process of life-on-life transformation is what Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 8, where he uses the example of the Macedonian churches’ extreme generosity to spur on the Corinthian believers. “In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. ….I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor 8:2-3,8-9, NIV)
“How do ‘severe trial,’ ‘overflowing joy,’ ‘extreme poverty,’ and ‘rich generosity’ all fit together in one verse,” asks Randy Alcorn? “Giving isn’t a luxury of the rich. It’s a privilege of the poor.”
I’m grateful not just for the generosity of others, but the incredible way that an example of sacrificial obedience can be a tool God uses to reshape our hearts and make us more like the image of his Son!
CLICK HERE to send us your story of how God has used Adopt-A-Family, or other generosity opportunity, for greater group transformation. (Please keep stories brief and all submissions will remain anonymous.)
(Randy Alcorn, The Treasure Principle, pg 31)