“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” –Acts 20:35b
Around Christmas time, it seems that we are almost bombarded with people, organizations, and causes to give to. Many start Christmas shopping months in advance in preparation for all the gift-exchanging; some buy presents for an “angel” from the Angel Tree; others drop a handful of change in the Salvation Army bucket in front of a department store. What is wrong with giving in these ways? Absolutely nothing! In fact, all of these types of giving are fantastic ways of being generous and making a difference in the lives of others. And since giving is a “gift” listed as an important part of the body of Christ in Romans 12, we know that there is a need for generous people in the Church. Without people willing to give to the church, so many evangelistic efforts and needs, local and abroad, would not be possible.
But is the “gift of giving” as easy as just dropping a few bills in the plate as it passes us on Sundays? In Romans 12:8, Paul says that those who give should contribute “in generosity,” also translated “in simplicity,” “in sincerity,” and “not in self-seeking.” In other words, when we give, we need to have the right mindset: one that seeks to serve God and others, in this case monetarily. After all, in 1 Corinthians 13:3, Paul says that even if we give everything we have to a good cause, if our motives are for self-glorification and without love, our giving is worthless to us. If we wish to have this “gift of giving” as described in Romans 12, we must have a mindset of love and selflessness.
However, many of us may feel that we cannot make a difference by giving simply because we don’t have the means to give substantial amounts to the Church. But in reality, this is not what God is truly interested in; look at the familiar example of the poor widow in Luke 21:1-4. She had almost nothing, and yet, in Christ’s eyes, she gave more than anyone else because she gave what she could. Paul explains this principle in 2 Corinthians 8:12: “For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.” Paul recognized that some people just couldn’t give as much as others. But that’s okay. The emphasis of giving should not be about how much we can give, but rather how we give. He says that we should have “readiness” or “a willing mind” to give; we need to have a generous attitude and “give according to what we have.”
The bottom line is: give. Give willingly and generously, just as Christ did. Give in love to fulfill the needs of those around you who may not have the blessings that you enjoy. Give to promote evangelism and the sharing of the most precious gift given to mankind: the Gospel. Christ came to give us salvation that we never could have found in ourselves. As Christians, we should devote our time, resources, and lives serving him because without him, we would have nothing.
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” –2 Cor. 8:9