Today, we are in the final week of our mini-series on THANKS & GIVING. We have been discussing the cycle of blessing that is comes into our lives when we practice thankfulness. If you missed the earlier weeks on the Law of Recognition and the Attitude of Gratitude, I encourage you to go back and catch up.
There is more to the cycle of blessing than just being grateful. It is generated by both THANKS AND GIVING. Because, you see, when you recognize your blessings, you are thankful for them. And your thankfulness causes you to give. It is the natural outpouring of appreciation.
What do you do when you want to express gratitude?
Sometimes you send flowers
Sometimes you write a letter or a special note
Sometimes you take a family to dinner
Sometimes you give a gift
Sometimes you sponsor an experience – like to take people to a ballgame. Recently, a friend of ours took us to a Bulls game just to say ‘thank you’ for being a part of their lives.
See, true gratitude always brings action. You don’t just sit quietly, you do something. Gratitude equals Action, and the gratitude ‘action’ is GIVING. Thanks and Giving. It’s what creates this cycle of blessing. And remember, what goes around, comes around.
Are you seeing this blessing cycle? It starts with God’s goodness and his blessing on our lives. Then we RECOGNIZE the blessing, and we have a heart of THANKS. And GIVING is the natural outcome of a grateful heart. Then, when we GIVE, God pours out even more goodness and blessing in our lives. Recognition, thankfulness, giving, blessings…and it continues over and over.
I can tell you from experience, the very best life is being in this sequence. But let me also caution you—we can take ourselves out of this cycle. We can stop being thankful. We can stop giving. And pretty soon, we start to wonder why our lives are unhappy and unfulfilled. It’s because we have moved away from the flow of blessings.
I am very committed and invested in the gratitude action of GIVING. I believe it is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling activities you can do. I recently heard someone I respect talking about the need to help others. He was passionate about our responsibility, and shared this perspective:
So often people buy into the belief that ‘anyone can do anything.’ For those of us born in America, it is the American Dream – you have the opportunity to be anything you want to be. You can do anything you want to do. If we subscribe to this thinking on a very basic level, it naturally leads us to become less understanding of the needy. If you can do anything, then the fact that you are poor or in need, is because you have not chosen to do more with your life. You could be better. You could be making a great living. You could be successful.
This line of thinking assumes that everyone is born with the same opportunities and the same advantages, and that everyone is placed in a position to thrive—the only difference is choice. But this is simply not true.
Everyone is not born into the same family mindset. Everyone is not provided the same education. Everyone is not given the same opportunities. Many people the world over need a helping hand. Many people’s lives can be changed by the generosity of someone who is in a better position and who has the heart of generosity.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I wholeheartedly believe that you have the opportunity to change your situation. I believe that you can become successful. But I also believe there are paths that must be traveled to reach that goal. If you listen to me regularly, you know that I believe exposure is the way to expand your mind. Once you are exposed to an idea, you can’t go back. You now know new possibilities.
So I often think of my giving in terms of these paths. If I can give someone the opportunity to expose their mind to a new idea, I have given them the key to change their circumstances. If I can give someone the ability to establish a new thought process, I have given them a lot more than a few dollars. But these opportunities take resources, and that’s where I believe giving can be tremendously multiplied.
I want to help you develop a mindset of exponential generosity. I want you to see that the difference you make with your giving has the potential to truly change the course of someone’s life.
It’s a lot more than checking a box to ‘give back’.
It’s a lot more than thinking of giving as a duty of the affluent.
Giving is an OPPORTUNITY. It is a PRIVILEGE to be able to alter the future.
Don’t limit yourself by thinking that giving is a small thing. It is a tremendously large thing. It is mind-altering and life-adjusting.
I recently read a story about a little girl in a Russian orphanage who had never in her life received a present. She had been told that no one loved her and no one ever would. When she was ten years old, Operation Christmas Child gave her one of their shoebox gifts, and she said that small act of giving showed her hope. Today, she is a 19-year-old intern with Operation Christmas Child, and she wants her life work to be showing that same hope to children who have no hope. This is done through the action of giving.
Generosity has no boundaries. It is ageless, genderless, and is open to everyone, no matter their income level. I encourage you to think deeper about giving. Realize that it is a privilege that you are in a position to be generous, and let your own gratitude and thankfulness for the blessings in your life cause you to practice extravagant generosity.
Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you will spend a few moments between the delicious food and the ballgames to remind yourself of the blessings in your life. And I trust that when you know how blessed you are, your action will be to give. THANKS & GIVING. It is the cycle of a blessed life.
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