That’s right- thank God for what you have by giving it away. Not all of it, but share the blessings you have received with others. That is what God wants us to do, not just as a means of doing Tzedakah (charity) but because He commands us to care for the widows and the orphans. I take this not just literally, but more metaphorically to mean all people in need. If a family has father, mother and children but they are homeless and poor, they are no less important than a widow or orphan with regards to us sharing what we have with them.
I found this answer to a question on a test I took when attaining my Messianic Minister Certification. I don’t have the exact question, but you can glean from the answer what the question must have been:
It was expected that anyone living in a town would accommodate strangers (as long as they were Jews) in their own homes. A curtain would be hung from the main doorway as a “Vacancy” sign would be turned-on in a modern hotel. Sometimes a table would be placed outside to show food was available within that house. The host would attend to the traveler himself, making sure every need was looked to. The host was always to be pleasant, have a happy disposition and be generous with a willing attitude as if he was receiving the Shekinah glory itself. He was to promise little but give much. The traveler was expected to thank the host graciously, ask about his family and stay in the place he was first welcomed into. He should eat whatever was served him gladly, and when leaving to give a blessing to the host and the household.
There is the story of Lot trying to protect the angels coming to Sodom, the story of the man who took in the travelling Levite (the last chapter in Judges), and other references throughout the Tanakh about the generosity and willingness to share with others. God also commanded not to reap the edges of your fields so the gleaners would have something to eat, not to go back and re-reap the trees or vines so that what you missed would be available for the poor, and Yeshua told us we would always have the poor with us: perhaps they are here as a means for us to faithfully follow God’s commandments. If God says to share the blessings He has given us with those in need, doesn’t it make sense that we would always have to have someone in need? If no one is in need, then God gave a commandment we can’t follow- that doesn’t sound right, does it?
As we are (almost) forced to be thankful tomorrow, let’s share what we have with those that have less. Invite someone you know who can’t afford a real dinner to your dinner (and give them a big “doggie bag” when they leave), contribute to your favorite charity, donate to a shelter food or items of clothing (nice stuff!) that you can part with (we can always part with things; really, we can) and think of ways to continue to do Tzedakah after tomorrow.
President Washington declared this a holiday as a means of giving thanks for the Constitution being ratified, and (thank God) it has grown into more. It does force some people to be thankful, even if it is just for a paid day off from work. I guess that’s a start.
God is generous, and not because He expects something back from us, as humans usually do. I mean, really…God owns everything, He can create whatever He wants with a thought, so what can we possibly give Him back He doesn’t already have? That’s how we know, absolutely, that God is not altruistic in giving out blessings, but totally loving and generous. We need to be that way. Giving thanks should be a daily occurrence, and we should not just give thanks but show our thankfulness by sharing that which He has given to us with those that don’t have.
I believe this is a test: God has allowed some to go without so that we, those who have, can demonstrate God in us by sharing, willingly and gladly, with others; the Manual says God loves a cheerful giver, that’s why we need to give to the needy. We need to give to those who can’t pay us back, so there can’t be any thoughts of reciprocity. That’s how God gives- without any thoughts or expectations of receiving anything back but thanks.
If you have never done anything totally out of generosity, you are missing something exceptionally rewarding. You want something back? OK- try this: give what you want to keep to someone who needs it and has nothing to give you back. Then, after you’ve seen their look of appreciation, and how unbelievably happy they became to have what you gave them, tell me that you didn’t cry at the joy your soul felt at that moment.
King David tells us, in the Psalms, to “taste of the Lord and see that He is good.” When you give without any thought of receiving, and you give what is important to you, something you know God has provided to you, that is true Tzedakah. I guarantee when you do this you will feel a joy that will fill your soul and elevate you to a height of spiritual pleasure you won’t ever forget: that’s how giving the way that God gives makes us feel.