What are the most valuable things in your life?
For me, in monetary terms, it’d be my car, guitar, and computer. Giving up any of those would be pretty major for me, but far greater than the value of any material resources is the value of the people I love.
Sometimes you don’t know what you have until you lose them; have you ever lost a close family member or friend? That grief cuts deep and leaves a hollowness that chillily reverberates as life continues on, and it attests to the value of those in our lives. Maybe this gives us just a small glimpse of God’s generosity.
When God pursued us in the person of Jesus to give His life for us, He gave His best.
And God’s gift to us was not precipitated by a petition from a committee representing the people of earth asking for the Lord to save us. No, we were blind in our sin, and Jesus came and gave Himself for us because He first loved us. This is why Christmas matters.
We give because God gave first.
Jesus came to earth as a child to free us from sin and call us into a future where we partner with God and walk in the good works which He has prepared for us (Eph 2:10).
And this is why we ought to give: to glorify God by serving those around us. Our good works—like giving and serving—bring God glory and are part of our role in His grand redemption story.
“But I don’t have a million dollars” I’ve said this before. Well, you don’t need a million bucks to be part of God’s family, and you don’t need it to bring God glory either, but you are called to give.
So I have three thoughts on giving:
1. How We Give Matters
It might help to say this out loud: I get to give.
I have learned from experience that Jesus’ words are true, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Seriously, as we give we are partnering with God, and bringing Him glory by serving those around us. Is there a better way to use money?
Paul earnestly implored the Corinthian believers to give to help those in need, and he made it clear that giving should come from a cheerful heart.
I have an awesome friend named Lisa. Tragically, she is currently suffering from CRPS/RSD, chronic pain throughout her body. She loves Jesus and is a wonderful wife, mother, and friend. Several of us pooled money to buy her a nice gift for Christmas this year. That gift cost something, but we gave cheerfully because we were excited to bless her and bring glory to God as we love her.
“So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
2. Budgeting Matters
Sometimes the moment to give comes, but we have nothing in our pockets or our bank accounts. Don’t allow a present lack prevent future giving. Plan ahead and begin giving monthly.
This may surprise you, but Paul actually addresses something as practical as budgeting. He was taking up a collection to help some believers in need, and in 1 Corinthians 16, he said he’ll come to collect at a later time, but he proposed this, “On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.”
We don’t know exactly when Paul would arrive, many many months after this letter was received, but rather than waiting until he arrived to give, why not begin giving ahead of time? This advice is still helpful today.
Maybe you feel unprepared to give a large sum right now. That’s ok. Consider reworking your budget and give monthly. Don’t despise small beginnings, and don’t underestimate the power of faithfully giving month after month.
When we read verses about good works, we often think of things like traveling to orphanages in Romania—and that certainly counts—but often good works look like this: careful budgeting and sacrificial giving, month after month.
We get to be part of what God is doing; to serve those around us for His glory!
3. Generosity Matters
Generosity costs us something.
One day Jesus and his disciples were near the temple and saw men and women putting gifts into the treasury. Maybe a successful craftsman came up and put in a large sum. Then a woman and her son came, and she handed him some bills to put into the box. Then a widow humbly approached the temple and put in a couple pennies. Jesus turned to his disciples and remarked, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all.”
Jesus saw the sacrifice and noted the generosity. He isn’t looking for the biggest check, he’s looking for us to yield ourselves to Him as we give to those around us.
I and other elders of my church ask the members to commit to regular tithing. This provides for the basic costs and also enables us to be active in both local and international ministry, and I am truly grateful to those who give regularly. But let me be clear, the model of giving in the New Testament is not a tithe but abundant generosity that often goes well beyond that. Read Luke’s accounts in Acts 2 and Acts 4, men and women giving their lives to Jesus, and then selling their properties to help those in need.
Our Father in heaven is the ultimate giver, and He gives us grace to give joyfully and generously.
We give because He first gave. Join us in giving today!