From the September/October 2021 issue of Discern Magazine

The Art of Giving

God gives every good and perfect gift, and He wants us to be like Him and to learn the art of giving from the heart. God loves a cheerful giver!

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When my children were young, they would bring something home from school for Mother’s Day every year. It would be cute and creative and usually had their picture or handprint on it. Skill level and perfection were not required!

In order for this to happen, the teachers would remind the students that Mother’s Day was coming and would provide materials to make a gift and then assist in its creation. The children would go home with the treasure, shining with love and filled with excitement over having something to give.

God is generous

God does the same things for us that the teachers did for my children. He reminds us that we need to be generous. He points out some of the people to whom we need to be especially generous. He explains the attitude we need to have. And then He provides everything we need to be able to give to others—everything!

Why does He do that? And why does He say in 2 Corinthians 9:7 to do it cheerfully?

God as our Father wants us to learn the fine art of giving and to become good at it. But He does not want us to give just because we are required to. He wants us to be delighted about giving—to give with a willing heart.

Every good and perfect gift

What are the steps involved in being a good giver? Interestingly, it starts by being a good receiver.

All of the wonderful things that we have are actually gifts from God. He created all things. And He gives us everything we have—every breath, every bite, every opportunity, every ability and even the chance for salvation and eternal life.

Every good and perfect gift comes from God (James 1:17).

There is a humbling that happens when we acknowledge that what we have is not by our might or power. We do not have what we have because of our greatness, but because of His! And He gives us what He does to help us be generous (2 Corinthians 9:11).

And being a good receiver means we need to be actively thankful. Gratitude puts the credit for the blessings in the right place. It is pleasing to God, just as it is to us, when someone offers heartfelt thanks for a gift or a kindness.

Talk to God about your blessings and how much you appreciate them. Thank God for the people that He uses to give you blessings. Ask Him to help you use your blessings in a way that is pleasing to Him. Ask Him to help you be generous.

Learning how to give

Stop and take a look around—at work, at church, at school. It is not hard to find people in real need of a little help.Paul said, “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart” (2 Corinthians 9:7). To be a giver, we need to make it a goal and mission in our lives. We have to purpose in our hearts to be givers!

Being generous is not an event; it is a way of life. It is always being mindful of other people and what we can do to make their lives better. Givers do more than just give physical things to other people. They share time, kindness, a listening ear, a helping hand and sometimes physical possessions.

And the cheerful part? When we walk through all the steps, sharing what we have becomes a delightful outgrowth of the process. Being a cheerful giver means reflecting God’s attitude of love and generosity toward others.

Giving wisely

So, how do I apply these principles in my world? Does this mean that tomorrow I need to go down to the local food bank and happily write a check that would empty out our family savings? Or do I need to find someone asking for a handout on the street corner and give him my car? Obviously not.

We find that we must first provide for our families (1 Timothy 5:8), then church members, then others “as we have opportunity” (Galatians 6:10).

So where is the balance?

Pure and undefiled religion

Pure and undefiled religion is described in James 1:27 as visiting the orphans and widows in their affliction. This sounds like a good place to start.

How many widows do you know? How many children in single-parent families are you aware of? How many of them do you reach out to regularly to offer encouragement, time or a helping hand? Many times, a phone call can make someone’s day or week. And sometimes a phone call or a visit gives you a big, flashing arrow showing you a way that you can help with something others cannot do on their own.

What about giving within your family? Do you give your children enough time, affection and encouragement? What about your spouse, your parents or your siblings? In this fast-paced world, family is often taken for granted. We should be mindful of and prioritize the needs of our family and cheerfully give them the attention, time and help they need.

We are told to care for the poor (Proverbs 19:17) and help the weak (Acts 20:35). Sometimes I know who the truly poor are, and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I know the guy asking for a handout outside the grocery store is not among the truly poor.

Stop and take a look around—at work, at church, at school. It is not hard to find people in real need of a little help. And it doesn’t always have to be money. Share a ride, share your garden produce, pass along clothes your kids have outgrown, have someone over for dinner.

Honestly, it is not hard to find a way to be generous. The hard part—the character part—is going ahead and doing what we can cheerfully and wisely.

God loves a cheerful giver

Our children are all grown, but I still have some of the gifts they made and gave to me. I remember how delighted they were to give them. Like my children’s teachers, God enables us to give to others, and He delights in seeing us learning to be generous.

Giving is a way of life—a mind-set, a mission. God is generous, and He loves to see us become cheerful givers!

For more on this subject, see our online article “Christian Giving.”

About the Author

Mary Clark

Mary Clark is married to Tom Clark who pastors three Church of God, a Worldwide Association, congregations in western Arkansas.

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