Several years ago, budget cuts cost me a great job. I had a salary, great benefits, and my wife and I, kidless at the time, had plenty of money and time to enjoy the so-called "good life." But then it was gone. Within a few weeks, we watched our bank account slip closer and closer to the red.
As we pass eleven months of a worldwide pandemic, perhaps you're in a similar boat. Maybe you've been furloughed or laid off, and there's this thing on your calendar staring a hole through your soul: Christmas! The day we celebrate God giving us our Savior, Jesus Christ.
If we love because He first loved us, perhaps we give because He gave so much to us––abundant life here, eternal life forever! Christians ought to be marked by generosity, but what if our bank accounts are marked in red? Allow me to suggest three ways you can be generous, even if the bank account is empty.
1. Be generous with your time.
Every person on this planet has the same 24 hours a day. Most sleep 6-8 hours, and if you're fortunate enough to have a job, that takes another eight or so hours. So, off the bat, most have eight hours left over.
My suggestion is to get up early to spend time with the Lord. Pray, read the Bible, and enjoy the stillness. Then, if possible, enjoy your coffee with your spouse or breakfast with the family. After work or the kids come home from school, give your evening to them––read a story, build a fort, or just cuddle up on the couch and watch your favorite Christmas movie. Our free time is just that––free––be generous with the time you have with your family and those around you.
2. Be generous with your talents.
I love to sing and write music. A few years ago, I recorded a Christmas CD of a few hymns few people had ever heard of and sold it to raise money for Heifer International (a global non-profit organization working to end hunger and poverty around the world). You may not be able to carry a tune in a bucket, but maybe you can bake a mean pecan pie or cookies!
Think about the talents you have and see how they can bless others. Take the kiddos caroling at the local nursing home, bake some goodies for the neighbors, or offer to fix an elderly couples' fence. Some of these things may cost a few ingredients, but God has given you gifts and talents—use them to bless others.
3. Be generous with your pen.
Aside from pen, paper, and a stamp, it doesn't cost much to write a note. With this pandemic, many folks are cut-off from friends and family. Reach out to your church and ask for the names and addresses of some folks who could use some encouragement, and send them a little Christmas cheer. If you have kids, have them decorate it. A little time with a pen can go a long way in encouraging someone.
Whether you volunteer at a soup kitchen, visit a nursing home, call a shut-in, or invest in your family, there are many ways you can bless others without paying a single penny. Just a little time or some elbow grease can go a long way, even if your bank account is long gone.
Matt Henslee is the pastor of Mayhill Baptist Church and cohost of Not Another Baptist Podcast.