The Garage Sale Syndome

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Giving liberates the soul and set one free. Giving allows you to be more appreciative of what you have. But can giving ever get out of hand? Yes, unless given in the right frame of mind. Sometimes givers cross the line and give to the extent of burdening themselves. Sometimes givers give, but do not know how to receive. When this happens, I question the motive of giving; has it unconsciously become the desire to be blessed? Godly giving is without hidden agendas or strings attached.

The apostle Paul recognized this when he said, “For if you have a willing heart, then it is not important how much you have to give, for God wants you to give what you have to give, not what you do not have. For you are not to give to the point that you are burdened while others are eased. Giving should be about equality. At this time your abundance can supply their want, and at another time, their abundance can supply your want.”
II Cor. 8:12-24 Mona's Paraphrase

I look at giving like a garage sale. I am getting rid of items no longer of value to me, but at great value to you and at give away prices. I am glad to see the stuff go, but do not take it personally as though I have done some great benefit for mankind. My motive is right, for I am not overly concerned with how thankful the receiver is. The receiver is glad to have it, but does not feel obligated to return the favor.

It is good to give, and it is also good to receive. I look at receiving like a garage sale. I look forward to going to their sale (and I am not offended if they are selling what they bought from me). Godly giving and receiving is in the right frame of mind and without hidden agendas or strings attached.

“The size and substance of the gift should be important to the recipient, but not to
the donor, save that the best thing one can give is that which is appreciated. ”
Maya Angelou in Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now.

This article was originally written for Marketplace Ministries, December 2003

I Love You, Now Change

I have not seen the movie, but I like the title. And I think I understand the meaning behind it. That special someone is very loveable, but - if only he/she would adjust a few annoying quirks.
And, adjust them according to my specifications.

Our business has grown to the point of needing a promotional video to send to prospective clients. We hired a professional filmmaker, scheduled a “Live Taping”, and invited a few people.
After the presentation, one man spoke highly of the speech and how much he enjoyed it. He was genuine and showed me the notes he had taken, reiterating the salient points he was going to adopt. Then he said, “When you get the tape back, you may want to watch it and see if there is any thing you might need to tone down.”

There was a time when that would have offended me. Just as we need genuine encouragement to help us flourish, we also need sincere critiquing to help us grow. I appreciate the reassuring, yet kind way my friend addressed a delicate area. I like the way he made a suggestion, “you may want…”, rather than telling me what to do. I am thankful for the way he invited me to self-evaluate and come to my own conclusion, rather than point out my flaws or highlighting what he thinks needs to be toned down.

What if a person is harsh when he critiques? It is the same principle; helpful information is helpful information, no matter the tone of voice in which it is given, or the words used. We can choose to filter out attitude and supposed hidden agenda, and hear only the words. Then we can honestly consider the message.

Truth hurts only when it is supposed to. If it is an “ouch”, as in I-resemble-that-remark, then maybe you need to think about what you might need to tone down. If you genuinely consider it and come to the conclusion that you were being unfairly judged, then extend grace to the judge, and a healthy self-love to yourself.

I have found that our families are faithful to point out our character flaws. Have you ever thought that it might be because they love you and want the best for you? By the same token, I have found that we can be pretty faithful to point out their character flaws. How can we do it in a way that is more readily received? How can we present the critique in such a way that it will be sincerely considered?

Use a suggestion, rather than an imperative. State an observance in a matter-of-fact manner and ask the person to determine if you are right or being presumptuous. Present your comments in such a way that invites self-evaluation, which can lead to change.

If all the above fails, you be the one to change and love him anyway, warts and all.

This article was originally written for publication Feb, 2004

"We Are So-o-o-o-o Lost"

"You have not, because you ask not. And even when you do ask, it is for your
own selfish purposes, not to receive what is really needed." James 4:3

As I was going home one afternoon, a luxury late model car and I were the only two vehicles on a particular avenue. The car was creeping along, so I moved into the other lane and passed. After a short distance, the creeping car sped by, then slowed down again.

At the signal, the two occupants got my attention and I rolled down the window. The woman said, “We are so-o-o-o-o-o lost.” They were looking for I-35, which was a simple two lefts and two lights back down the road.

I said to them, “You may think you are lost, but you are not far off track.”

Life is a lot like that. We may think we are lost, but are really not too far off track. And we can find our way back the same way this couple found their main route. They became aware of being on the wrong road. They searched for a familiar landmark to reorient themselves. Finding none, they asked for help. Perhaps most importantly, they received the help offered.

They listened and evaluated that someone who had been down that road before, knew the ropes better than they.

They asked a stranger. Who do you need to ask for help? Who do you need to listen to? What do you need to become aware of? Sometimes information is more readily received from a stranger than from family.

Maybe that is because family has an annoying way of telling us we are lost when we know better. We know where we are going and what we are doing. Still, it may be good information, if we will only receive it, consider it, and maybe – just maybe – act upon it.

This article was originally written for Marketplace Ministries, November 22, 2003