A Manly Thanksgiving – part 2 – Serve From The Abundance
Serve From The Abundance
The passage found in 2 Corinthians 9:6-10 is an encouragement to be generous out of the many blessings we have received.
‘Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.
What Godly Giving Brings
2 Corinthians 9:11-16 continues telling us what will happen if we a generous givers:
You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!’
Share With Joy
There are numerous practical ways to share from the abundance, not “reluctantly or under compulsion” but with joy! It’s important to teach our families to be other-centered. So many times, we become so self-centered and Thanksgiving has become one of those times. This is a great time of the year to bless others. Your children will grow and benefit from this experience. Try reaching out to the less fortunate on Thanksgiving. Serve at a soup kitchen, a retirement home, children’s hospital—seek out the needs of any neighbor experiencing hardship. Here is an awesome story I found on The Washington Post…
It started with the loneliest of pleas: “Large, 54 y.o. Christian, homeless male is looking for a person, family or couple to share Thanksgiving day with,” Neal Shytles wrote in an online ad.
Last year he spent the holiday at a shelter. Although probably 200 other men were there eating turkey, “you sit down, you eat, you get up and leave,” he said. “Every day of the year is pretty much lonely for me. But Thanksgiving through Christmas is the worst time to be alone.”
So when a stranger, Ashley McLemore, offered to take him to her family’s home in Newport for the holiday, he burst into tears. She did, too.
But that was just the beginning. His story resonated with people in Norfolk, where he has been staying at Union Mission Ministries, across Virginia and as far away as Europe and the South Pacific.
Quick to Share with the Homeless
On a holiday when home, family and grace are foremost in people’s minds, many other strangers were quick to share: They shared his story, they shared food and money and they shared ideas on how to help others.
“Something about him just grabbed my heart,” said Danyelle Bryant, a 33-year-old mom from a West Virginia hamlet who saw the story on the Web site of Norfolk’s WTKR-TV, where Shytles had posted his ad.
People offered jobs to Shytles, a former taxi driver. Long-lost cousins offered to visit. Cory McLemore, Ashley’s husband, and his colleagues at a Department of Defense contracting firm pooled $500 to give to Shytles, some of which he used for a new set of clothes to wear on Thanksgiving. But Shytles quickly deflected the attention to the 350 men, women and children in his shelter — and beyond. People have a stereotype of homeless people, he said, but many have just hit hard times. “There’s a lot of good guys. Even though they have nothing, they’ll give you the shirt off their back.”
Thanks to Shytles, families took in other men from Union Mission Ministries for Thanksgiving meals. When Shytles pointed out that some men were sleeping on the tile floor of the shelter with only sheets to keep warm, people donated blankets. Ashley McLemore, a 30-year-old English teacher getting her doctorate at George Washington University, walked into her classroom one morning to find her desk piled high with blankets. One of her seventh-graders brought in the comforter from his own bed.
And still it spread. Bryant and some friends created a Facebook page encouraging people to send Shytles cards. “He wanted that family atmosphere,” said Bryant, who didn’t mention her personal worries with money and family illnesses. “I just really wanted to do something for him that way, so he could know people care about him, even though we don’t know him.”
Within hours, the group had grown to more than 4,000 people. People said they had seen Shytles’s story and donated to their local shelter or started carrying packs of toiletries to hand out. Bryant’s friend Lynn Grove brought a plate from her turkey dinner to a homeless man in Beckley, W.Va. Shytles got messages from the United Kingdom, Fiji, Australia, Spain and Malaysia. A woman in Sweden told him he had inspired her to take a job helping homeless people. “I’ve never felt so loved in my life before,” Shytles said.
Don’t Wait for Someone to Ask
“I think people really want to give,” he said, overwhelmed, trying to explain the response, “and they don’t know how to give. They’re waiting for someone to ask.”
Ashley McLemore said: “I think it resonates with people to see people caring for one another.
On Thursday morning when they arrived at the shelter, Cory McLemore went to shake Shytles’s hand and got wrapped in a bear hug. “We all connected right away,” Shytles said. “It’s just been awesome.”
Ashley McLemore said last Thanksgiving was spent far from family in Mississippi. It was just McLemore and her husband; it felt lonely. This year, they were all talking and laughing and sharing the turkey she cooked. “It’s been a really wonderful day,” she said. “We’re so blessed. He’s part of our family now.”
Alice Crites contributed to this report.
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