Giving That Transforms

givingOut of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy
and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.
2 Corinthians 8:2 NIV

A farmer who had never been to the big city decided to introduce his son to city life. After perusing the luxurious hotel where they would stay—and watching a rickety old lady get on an elevator and a sumptuous blonde emerge 10 seconds later, he nudges his son and says: “Hey, Junior, go git Mama.”

Though the story is somewhat humorous, it illustrates how greed often consumes us. We want something for nothing—and instantly. In sharp contrast, God’s Word instructs us to give rather than gather and to direct our concern to others rather than ourselves.

Giving is an integral part of living transformed lives and experiencing transformed churches. Recognizing that all we have comes from God, belongs to God, and should be used for God’s work transforms our way of thinking and thus our actions.


Others provide good and bad examples of giving. If we have given ourselves to God, all we have belongs to him. He wants us to be good stewards of our time, talents, skills, and finances. God loves it when our example of giving demonstrates voluntary and cheerful giving. He wants us to give freely and gladly. No one should have to beg us to give so God’s work can flourish.


Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary—and the Father’s willingness to allow it, shows the supreme example of giving. Though Jesus possessed all the glory and majesty of heaven, he became a servant. Though he was rich and owned all things, he gave it up. He possessed a heavenly home but traded it for a stable. He chose persecution, suffering, and shame. He gave up heaven’s glory for a sin cursed world so people might experience forgiveness through faith in him.


Paul’s idea seems to be that no Christian should live in poverty when other believers could help alleviate it. Believers whom God has blessed should help those who suffer. Paul doesn’t infer Christians should give so much that they become poor. We should joyfully give to our brothers and sisters in Christ. This giving should come from a generous heart, not selfish motives.


Giving shouldn’t be limited to fellow Christians but should include all people regardless of who they are. Giving this way and in the name of Jesus points them to him and affirms our love for him and them. Giving gives us an opportunity to tell of his love and may lead to witnessing encounters.

Martha Snell Nicholson wrote a poem entitled “Treasures.”

One by one God took them from me,
All the things I valued most,
Till I was empty-handed;
Every glittering toy was lost.

And I walked earth’s highway, grieving,
In my rags and poverty,
Till I heard His voice inviting,
‘Lift your empty hands to Me!’

So I turned my hands toward heaven,
And he filled them with a store
Of His own transcendent riches
Till they could contain no more.

And at last I comprehended
With my stupid mind and dull,
That God could not pour His riches
Into hands already full!


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