Although there are many verses in the Bible about giving, I don’t believe God ever meant for this to become a hard-and-fast-if-you-don’t-give-X-amount-you’ve-sinned rule. It’s kind of like encouraging your child in something that gives them pleasure—photography, music, science. You encourage them to take classes or join clubs or do activities on their own. They enjoy the activity, it increases their knowledge and understanding, and they are more likely to do more of it, which perpetuates the cycle.
Same with giving, except we get it so very, very wrong.
Instead of learning to give with a generous heart, we learn to give with a guilty or resentful one. Guilty if we don’t compare well with the gift of others, resentful if we are continually guilted into giving more when we really don’t want to.
But it was never meant to be like this. God says He loves a cheerful giver, and no, that doesn’t mean you fake it. It means you stop giving to get and start getting to give.
What do I mean by that?
One of my favorite kick-back pastimes is to read Dear Abby. I don’t know why, but I enjoy doing that. One of the most common types of letters Abby gets goes something like this: “We sent our niece a vase for her wedding six months ago, and we have not gotten a thank you note yet. Do you think we should point this out to her mother, just, you know, to make sure she got it?”
Seriously, people! A GIFT is a GIFT. If it’s not a gift, it’s a bribe.
When you give something with the intent of getting something out of it (yes, even a thank you!), you’ve established a deal, not given a gift.
This thinking gets further skewed in the church. How many times have you heard, “God will repay you tenfold…”? So people ‘give’ with the intent that God had better live up to His side of the ‘bargain.’ When they don’t see the tenfold thing happening, they get resentful of God and believe He doesn’t live up to His promises.
PLEASE! Nothing could be further from the truth!
The problem here is the heart the gift is given with, not the gift itself, nor the promise.
You see, I believe that we should think in terms of getting to give, rather than giving to get.
In my world, I don’t have to give anything, but I get to give so much. I get to give of my time because God schedules things so I can. I get to give of my finances because we have more than enough. I get to give of my talents to those who need a helping hand in the writing world or the spiritual world.
This is not a burden. It’s an unspeakable JOY!
And my kids are learning this joy as well. When my son was in second grade, he came out of school one day and asked if we could go get a wall clock. Not really sure why he would want a wall clock, I asked him what he was going to use it for. He said, “Well, Mrs. J gets so frustrated when we’re in the blue room because there isn’t a clock in there. I just thought it would be nice to give her one.”
He was right. It was nice. Really nice. In fact, it made her day.
Not long after that, my middle child who had just started middle school at the time came home with the story of how some of the boys in her class had broken her teacher’s crayons. That made the teacher really sad. My daughter asked if we could go get some new crayons, and “maybe even the big size, Mom, so she will have more than enough.”
More than enough. What a concept. And what a beautiful lesson for my daughter when the teacher broke down in tears when presented with the gift.
All the way to the other day when one of their teachers ran out of dry erase markers trying to write notes on the marker board. What did my oldest two daughters decide to do? Why, go to Wal-Mart, buy the nice thin-line markers, and hang them in a nice gift bag on the teacher’s door as a surprise.
The teacher still doesn’t know who gave her those markers, and she never will because for my girls it’s about getting to give, not about giving to get. It’s an amazing way to live when you finally understand that lesson.
Copyright Staci Stallings, 2014
About the Author
Staci Stallings, the author of this article, is a Contemporary Christian author and the founder of Grace & Faith Author Connection and CrossReads.com.
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