s a child, my three favorite days of the year (in order) were Christmas, my birthday, and Easter. I prioritized these days based on the amount of gifts I would receive during each celebration!
Even though I came from a family with very limited resources, I eagerly anticipated the gifts I would find on Christmas morning, the birthday presents my family and friends would give me, and the candy-filled basket I would open before church on Easter morning. I seldom thought about giving to others—all I cared about was receiving more gifts. While this may be a normal perspective for small children, as we grow older, our outlook should shift. We should discover the joy of giving to others.
A Blessed Gift
Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
Giving is so central to Christian living that instructions for generosity permeate the Bible (Luke 6:38; Acts 2:45; 2 Cor. 9:6-7; 1 Tim. 6:17-19; 1 John 3:17). Whereas all Christians should be generous givers, some believers are endowed with a spiritual gift of giving.
In Romans 12:8, the Greek word for giving means “to give a share in.” The gift of giving is the “God-given capacity to share with others one’s personal possessions . . . whether money, food, clothing, or shelter” (French Arrington, Encountering the Holy Spirit). Those who have this gift are to “give generously” (NIV) to others—to give freely, without concern for repayment or recognition.
The Gift in Action
In the New Testament, numerous people exemplify the gift of giving. The greatest example is Jesus Christ, who gave all He had to give for our salvation. “Our Lord Jesus Christ . . . gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world” (Gal. 1:3-4).
The apostle Paul was another exemplary giver. He said, “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak” (Acts 20:35 NIV). This statement reveals two key components of giving:
1. Generous giving always includes giving of oneself, just as Paul devoted himself to “hard work” that would benefit others.
2. The giver’s fruit of labor should be shared with “the weak”—with those who cannot provide adequately for themselves.
Paul’s persistent devotion to assisting others with their spiritual and physical needs indicates he was blessed with the spiritual gift of giving that motivated him to give his all to others. He said he was willing to make the most extreme sacrifice possible: “For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel” (Rom. 9:3-4 NIV).
Another remarkable example of the gift of giving is Zacchaeus. Before he met Christ, Zacchaeus was a greedy tax collector who cheated others for personal gain. However, after he put his faith in Jesus, he declared to Jesus and those around, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold” (Luke 19:8 NKJV). His newfound generosity exceeded normal restitution for his previous extortions and extended to liberal assistance for the poor! The words of Jesus indicate Zacchaeus’ encounter with the Savior would impact him forever (v. 9).
One of the most inspiring examples of giving is the story of Dorcas, who “was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did” (Acts 9:36 NASB). When she unex- pectedly became sick and died, the disciples grieved for Dorcas and called for Peter to come quickly to their location. After Peter arrived, her widowed friends showed him “the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made” for them (v. 39 NIV). Peter prayed for Dorcas, and God miraculously raised her back to life!
Dorcas may not have been a wealthy person, but she graciously and consistently shared her life and resources with those around her, exemplifying the gift of giving. As Jesus taught, God does not judge our giving by the amount given, but by the amount left over after we give (Mark 12:41-44; Luke 21:1-4).
A Gift to Remember
While pastoring in Louisville, Kentucky, I was fortunate to have an elderly member in our church who reminded me of Dorcas. She was one of the most faithful and committed Christians I
ever had the privilege to pastor. Sister Ruby had many remarkable qualities, but two especially were evident—her passionate praying and generous giving. She may not have had earthly abundance, but she lovingly created gifts for her friends and family.
When people received one of these precious creations, they knew it was an expression of love and that Sister Ruby had prayed for them while making the gift. She particularly loved making homemade Christmas ornaments to give away, and our family still has a wonderful collection of these gifts that we treasure.
When Sister Ruby went to be with the Lord, I was honored to speak at her funeral. During my message, I asked everyone in the crowded auditorium to raise their hand if they had ever received a homemade gift from Sister Ruby. I was not surprised when almost everyone raised their hand. Her giving had touched every family represented at the funeral service!
A Proverb to Live By
As Christians, God calls us to give generously to His work and to those in need. However, some people are blessed with this wonderful gift of giving. Believers with this gift gladly give of themselves through service to others, ministry engagement, and sacrificial giving of their goods and resources. Their giving is characterized by humility, generosity, servanthood, and selflessness.
Most of us know people who have this gift. We have witnessed and experienced their generosity, which should inspire us to share our lives and resources with others. Then we, too, can
be blessed by our giving, as Proverbs 22:9 declares: “A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor” (NIV).