Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about giving and the heart behind why we give. Probably because right now I am in a season where I don’t have very much to give. At least I feel like I don’t. But I desire to give…I would give away every cent I owned, if that weren’t (usually) irresponsible. When I think of generosity and giving I mostly think of time and money (but obviously there are other ways to give). Over the last year with the wedding, moving, and related expenses I felt pretty dry in both areas. Phil and I are both in a place where we have more flexibility with our time, but things are still pretty tight on the financial end.
When you look around at the world, you can see that there is so much need…I think of orphans in other countries and parents who work hard but can’t even afford to send their kids to school. There is a lack of medicine, food, and clean water in parts of the world. There are churches and missionaries on each continent short of funds and volunteers. There are also many needs and hurting people in the United States. The injustice and corporation in the world seems to be never ending. Personally, I often get overwhelmed by all the need and become upset that I cannot currently do more .
So how does someone who does not have many resources, still have a heart of giving? There are three words (focuses) that come to mind, when I think about giving and those are attitude, priorities, and trust. And with each of those words we need to ask ourselves a question.
What is your attitude? I would like to say, that every time I consider helping someone and want to give I think of Jesus. But even as a Christian, it is easy to get caught up in a cause or the work that you are doing and forget why you are doing it. I have caught myself having a ‘save the world’ complex and I just want to fix it all. When I have this attitude about giving I am not only setting myself up for failure, but I am also not giving Jesus room to work through me. The foundation of why we give shouldn’t be about us or even about the end results, but about who. When our desire to give comes from what Jesus has done for us and He gave UP for us..then our attitude is shaped upon who He is and Not who we are.
What are your priorities? We live in a society that is very individualistic and is always striving for MORE or BETTER. However, as Christians we are called to serve and to care for others. While it is not wrong to have nice things, we are also commanded to look out for the needs of others and care for not only the church body, but the widowed, poor, strangers, and orphans of the worlds. When your priority is to to live like Jesus in EVERY area of your life, you begin to see that more money frees up. When you once bought coffee a few times a week or have a closet full of clothing, you now first think of way God would desire you to use the money and then some of those funds begin to help others. But when our priority is ME or what I need, then it will become hard to find satisfaction and giving will always take the back burner.
And finally, who or what do I put my trust in? In an individualistic society, even as a Christian it is easy to begin depending on ourselves. We try to better ourselves and to lives as better Christians (individually), and sometimes forget that we can’t do it on our own. Do I believe that God loves me? Do I believe that He knows the desires of my heart? If I truly trust Him with my life, then I need to be content with where I am. He knows my desire to serve Him and to give to others…and right now He is allowing me to be in this place in my life. In the same way when we look at our priorities and attitude and see that they are not quite aligned with Christ, we need to once again put our trust in Him and allow Him to change our hearts.
God desires for us to be able to give. Not only does He desire it, He commands it. Some of us may be in a place where we can only give a little, while others of us may have the capacity to give a lot. It comes down to our heart of giving…what our attitude is, where our priorities lie, and who we put our trust in. I would like to end with a passage that is often used in regard to giving, but often overlooked because it has almost become cliche. Nonetheless, it is very important and sums up where God desires our hearts to be.
Mark 12:41-44“Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd put their money into the temple treasury. Many people through in large amounts. But a poor widow came in and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put into the treasury more than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything-all she had to live on.”