“One gives freely, yet grows all the richer;
another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.
Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
and one who waters will himself be watered.”
In 2012, Giving Tuesday (the Tuesday after Thanksgiving) was created to balance generosity with the consumerism exhibited on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. But generosity is far from a new concept. In fact, it is something the people of God have always exhibited. Giving is very near to the heart of God, as it is a sign of our faith in Him.
We see this call to giving early on in the story of Israel. In Deuteronomy 26:1–11, we read how the people of Israel entered the land of Canaan, a land “flowing with milk and honey,” a land of great bounty and peace. The land had been given to them as a gift, “an inheritance” from the Lord that was promised all the way back in Genesis when God told Abraham He would make him into a great nation with a special land (Genesis 15:18). The Lord told His people how they were to honor Him in this new land. They were to gather the first crops of each season, bring them to the priest, and have them presented on the altar of the Lord. Yet most striking in this passage is not what the Israelites were to do but how they were to do it. When they made this presentation to the Lord, they were to recite the story of God’s faithfulness to Israel —how He heard their cries, saw their oppression in Israel, delivered them miraculously, and granted them a fruitful land. And then they were to rejoice “in all the good things the Lord [their] God [had] given to [them].”
Reciting and rejoicing. That’s the way that the Lord taught His people to give. In the same way, we are to give out of a heart that is eager to recite His faithfulness and eager to rejoice in His provision. Reflect on your own history of giving. Do you have a heart eager to recite your testimony of God’s work in your life? Are you overflowing with gratitude for the abundance He has provided? If not, be honest with God about it. Spend time in prayer asking Him to reveal reasons you may not feel grateful. Examine your heart, confess your sins, and draw near to God (James 4:8). As we grow in gratitude, we come to see how much we have to be grateful for. It’s a process that takes time, but it is well worth it.
When we talk about the discipline of giving, we talk most often about money. But giving goes way beyond our money; it includes our talents, our time, and our resources. Christ-followers are called to give not only of their monetary possessions but of their very selves. The apostle Paul urged his listeners “to offer [their] bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God” (Romans 12:1). We give not just of our bank accounts, but of our very lives.
When we give, incredible things take place. We find our needs fulfilled, our appetites sated. We find that God Himself is enough. We find that a life of generosity is a life of deep joy. Think of the woman who poured out her alabaster jar of perfume upon Jesus’ feet (Matthew 26:6–13). The disciples were worried about her use of such an expensive item: “Why this waste? This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” And, yet, Jesus saw the gift as “beautiful,” given out of a heart of generosity toward God.
When we give generously, God counts it as beautiful.