Giving is one practice that makes us more like God! I think the reason we’ve been instructed to tithe in scripture is because it is the first step in learning how to be generous like our Heavenly Father. He gave us his Son and his Son gave up his own life. God is generous and calls us to be generous. If you struggle with giving let me give you five principles to help you grow generosity in your own life…
Give to something greater than yourself. Give to something greater than you whether its Compassion International, Salvation Army, or the church. Give to something that captures your heart and captivates your imagination. Give to a great cause so that when you see hunger alleviated, children get homes, or the cause of Christ expand you can say, “I had a part in that!” When you see success come through your giving you will be both humbled and proud. Humbled because your part was small, but proud because you did have at least have a part.
If you struggle to come up with an organization that captivates you then give to one you want to captivate you. Jesus taught that our hearts follow our treasure and it's true! You don’t care what price Hershey’s stock closes at, unless you’re invested in it. Likewise you don’t care about an organization (even the church) until you get invested. Invest in something you want to be passionate about and then watch your passion grow.
Give to an organization or individual that is accountable. In the early church they knew what gifts were being given and they knew how those gifts were used. They could see the real change being effected by their gifts. Today this is more difficult as these organizations grow bigger, but we still need to be smart givers. Give to organizations that share financial reports and have fiscal accountability. You want to make sure your gifts are used in the right way. With the internet, it is super easy to know who is accountable. You can visit a website like: ECFA.org or GuideStar.org to find out if your charity is accountable.
Give first to Jesus. Paul brags on the Macedonian givers because they “gave themselves first to the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 8:5) These people didn’t give to Paul, or the church, they gave to God. What Paul means is they first stopped and surrendered everything they had to God in prayer. They said something like, “Jesus, all I have is yours. Show me what I should do with it.” I believe every Christian should pray this same prayer over their own resources. If you have never given before I would challenge you to give to Jesus. Pray and ask God how to give - I believe he will guide you.
Give to encourage people. Giving encourages people, if you give with the right attitude. If I give you a gift and am happy to give it to you, then you will be happy to receive it. But, if I give you a gift and I’m begrudging, call you a bum, or am reluctant, then you know I’m not really giving you a gift. It’s not just the gift but the way it is given. The heart of the giver determines the value of the gift! Christmas is upon us and we will be giving many gifts. Let us make sure that we give them with joy so that our gifts bring joy not resentment.
Give according to what you have - not what anyone else has. It really is the thought that counts. Don’t be discouraged you can’t write a check like Warren Buffett. Be thankful you can give at all. Never forget, it’s the heart of the giver that determines the value of the gift. If you joyfully give from what you have, then it will be a blessing to the person that receives it.