Giving Hilariously

Up until my late 40s, I saw clothes shopping as a joyless but necessary evil. I knew of course, that I had to look presentable both socially and for work. But because shopping for clothes was so boring, I strived to do the absolute bare minimum. This meant yearly trips for socks, underwear and jeans. And the occasional cameo appearance at a men’s suit store.

But that all changed when I found out about Goodwill. Yes, the Goodwill thrift stores unlocked a secret, hidden part of my personality. Until then, I had no idea that I loved to shop! Turns out I have a penchant for loud, tasteless clothing.

I now delight in screaming green neon tee-shirts, and those that blaze in prison orange, shocking pink, or happy electric blues. I also delight in the eye stinging yellows and anything that looks like it will glow in the dark. Suddenly shopping was not only fun, it was cheap! I was now buying things I like. And after 4 decades of drudgery, I had found my sweet spot!

The same thing happened to me with giving. Previously, it was just saving up each week to throw some money in the church offering bowl. But that got boring real fast. So did beaming the money into outer space for overseas missions.

I knew that giving was good and that God commands us to give. And there’s nothing wrong with helping people overseas either. But something was missing. I wanted more! So I began asking the Lord how to leverage my giving so I could enjoy it, and also form impactful relationships. I wanted to put a piece of me into whatever I gave. And to make it unique: not just for me, but for the person I was giving to!
I wanted my giving to be out of the box, unexpected, and personal.

In answer to my prayer, God invented the Dollar Store. Now I could shop for gifts the same way I shopped for clothes! I could bless my neighbors, coworkers, vendors, and even the people at the supermarket, all with the things I actually liked to buy! Things that were delightfully cheap, deliciously colorful and extremely fun to play with!

And so I began actively listening to the needs of the people around me. I asked open ended questions like “How was your week?” “How are your children?” or “Is there anything you want prayer for?”

I was spying out the land: searching for a need. Seeing if anyone could use some hope or encouragement. And I just couldn’t wait to find an opening where I could bless them and enjoy doing it!

Sometimes this meant giving out a cheap toy. Other times it meant giving out a cheap toy with an encouraging note and a wad of money. And sometimes this meant giving them a cheap fun toy along with free car repairs, or helping them with legal troubles or writing them an encouraging note (that went along with a cheap toy).

Just recently, it involved sending an overseas colleague a surprise gift of his favorite beer, because I could tell he was extremely stressed and needed to know someone in the USA cared for him. (Amazon Germany allowed me to send the gift cheap and from a local supplier.)

But no matter what I did, suddenly my heart was in it! Now I could give cheerfully and with impact, actively building relationships so that at some point, I have an opportunity to talk about this Jesus I so much love and wanted others to know about.

I still give to my church of course. But now I use part of my money to love my neighbor and encourage them by giving in other ways as well.

Finding Your Sweet Spot

Sadly, most people treat giving the way I used to treat clothes shopping. They lifelessly pull out a wad of money and then throw it in the offering bowl to get it all over with. There is no spark, there is no joy; they’re just glad to be done with the deal.

But the God of the universe couldn’t care less about your money. God is a jealous God. He aims high and wants the most valuable part of you. Your money is worthless paper. God is going after your heart. Yes, you get blessed for giving obediently. But giving obediently is like chewing on cardboard. You get blessed far more when you give cheerfully, joyfully and creatively.

So how do we give joyfully? It’s obvious we can’t force it. God won’t be fooled by our lofty words or our pasted smiles. Indeed, our Jesus knows we need help in everything including how to be a cheerful giver.

So simply ask the Lord to give you a joy in giving. In prayer, bring before Him your talents, money, property, resources, skills, vocation, passions and influence. Then ask Him to show you who is your neighbor.

He will then open up your eyes to your colleague, the cashier at the check out counter, the guy at the car repair shop, and to the various people you come into contact with while carrying out your life activities. These are your neighbors. These are the people you have influence with.

And don’t forget to ask Him for innovative ways to give. Ways that will excite you, and at the same time, delight both your neighbor and the Holy Spirit that lives inside you. (the chart above may help a bit too!)

Other Blogs on Giving

Cheap On Things But Lavish On People (Taking A Delight In Giving)
Is it OK to spend on others and come along for the ride? Or must you be a monk and  always be in self denial? How do you know when you’re too much in love with  this world versus having a joyful time?

The Joy of Creative Giving
Spice up your giving so that it’s fun, exciting and brings people together.

Finding Jesus at the Dollar Store
Are we asking God the wrong questions when we pray to Him? Is it any wonder we’re not getting the right answers?


  1. This spoke to me, Graham, and I hope to give more from the heart in some of the ways suggested. Thank you!

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