The act of giving is a well-known Christian virtue. As the body of Christ, we are accustomed to answering the call to give freely of our finances, time, and our gifts.
However, in the interest of being a “good” Christian, we can overestimate how much of ourselves and our resources we should give in order to be a blessing to our church and our community. When this happens, giving becomes life-depleting, instead of life-giving.
What is giving?
Giving is a personal sacrifice of something that God has given you, to bless someone in need.
There are various forms of giving, the most common being financial gifts.
Giving money to God’s work, as well as those in need, is indeed important. God gives us specific instructions in both the Old and New Testament about financial giving. However, God also provides us with means to give in other ways, such as through our spiritual gifts – talents and natural aptitudes – that can be used to minister to others to benefit them (1 Peter 4:10-11).
We can also give our time to help others: We can shop for a sick relative, offer to babysit a friend’s children, or visit an elderly neighbor who lives alone.
Giving is should be an act of worship and living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). We should give according to how God leads us, whether that be with the amount of time or money we give, or how we use our gifts to help others.
Moreover, regardless of what we give, we should give joyfully (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Why do we give?
God is the ultimate giver – He gave us His only son as a bond price for our redemption. Therefore, expressing our honor and gratitude for what God has done for us through giving is wholly acceptable. Additionally, giving holds us accountable and blesses others.
How was giving defined in the Old Testament?
The importance of financial giving is shown to us early on in the Bible. In Genesis 14:19-20, Abram gave the High Priest Melchizedek a tenth of all of his possessions, in response to God blessing him with victory over his enemies and securing the rescue of his nephew, Lot.
This practice of giving a tenth was continued with the introduction of the Mosaic Law, in which God required that the Israelites give a tithe or 10% of their first fruits (Leviticus 27:30-34). This money was also considered the Levites’ inheritance, who were the priests that served God (Numbers 18:21).
Additionally, clear instructions were given regarding offerings and sacrifices (Deuteronomy 12:5-6). Financial allowances were also given for orphans, widows, and foreigners (Deuteronomy 14:28-29), as well as festivals (Deuteronomy 14:22).
Even in ancient times, God required His people to not only honor Him but to also distribute blessings amongst the people.
What does it mean to give like Jesus?
Giving is not restricted solely to the Old Testament. During His ministry, Jesus emphasized the importance of continuing to give under our new covenant with Him. Jesus stated in Matthew 5:17,
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”
In fact, as a requirement of sharing His ministry with others, Jesus can call us to not only give but give up what we have. After all, He asked His disciples to not only leave their professions, but also their possessions (Luke 9:1-6, Luke 10:1-4). Jesus wants to teach us that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).
To give like Jesus means to offer a sacrifice for the right reasons. We shouldn’t make a spectacle about giving, so that others witness our generosity (Matthew 6:1-2). Instead, we should give in secret with the ultimate intention of glorifying God and blessing others (Matthew 6:3-4).
Additionally, giving like Jesus means to be generous to those less fortunate (Matthew 6:2-3).
Although the Israelites were given a solid 10% benchmark as their tithing requisite, Jesus tells us the following in Luke 6:38:
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
In order words, the more you give, the more will be given back to you. What our reward will be, Jesus tells a rich man in Mark10:29-31.
Jesus is the biblical expert on giving – after all, He sacrificed His life for our salvation. Just as Jesus gave His all for us, so He wants us to give Him our all. That doesn’t mean we have to give up our last cent, but it means we should give wholeheartedly, with our entire heart, body, mind, and spirit.
4 prayers for guidance on where and how to give:
The following prayers cover 4 areas that can help you in asking God how to give with joy, purpose, and fulfillment.
A prayer on how to give without discouragement:
Thank you that You sent Your precious son Jesus Christ to teach me the importance of giving. Help me to give with the same joyful heart to others as Jesus did.
Lord, at times l am discouraged to give. I worry whether l have enough time and money to spare for others. I doubt my own abilities and whether l can make a difference to someone else’s life.
Create a clean heart in me Father, and renew a right spirit within me to give boldly and joyfully, like Jesus, for l wish to honor You with my living sacrifice.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
A prayer on connecting me with needs suited to my gifts:
Father of all creation,
I proclaim that l am Your child, a product of Your handiwork, who is fearfully and wonderfully made! And as Your precious child, l acknowledge and receive the gifts You have created uniquely for me that have been designed to further Your kingdom here on earth.
Precious Father, show me the places where l can shed a light in the dark corners of this world. Guide me to where l can take my gifts and use them to help others who need to hear Your gospel of love, hope, and life.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
A prayer on finding balance and peace in how I choose to give:
Lord of my life,
I honor you with my life, for everything l have is because of You. Father, l wish to share the blessings You have given me with others; however, l am uncertain about how l should give.
Help me to hear Your still small voice through my indecision. Guide me to give in the right direction that will not only help others, but will give me peace, knowing that l acted under Your divine counsel. Teach me to find that balance between giving and living the life You have planned for me.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
A prayer on giving responsibly without depletion or exhaustion:
God of revival,
I endeavor to honor You with my body, heart, and spirit and give of myself ito be a blessing to others. However, lately, l feel like l have little to give. I am running on empty, and to be honest, l am just so tired.
Father, l thank you that You see my willingness to sacrifice and that You never require of us to give over and above our capabilities.
Therefore, I commit myself to you and ask you to revive my weary spirit and teach me to give only that much of myself that is within my means to give.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Giving is a divine requirement and one we should strive to honor in every area of our lives. However, it need not be a draining experience – financial or otherwise. Instead, giving should be an act that gives life, not only to the giver but also to the recipient.