Don’t you like experiencing the surprise of a family member or good friend open a present you bought them for their birthday? I remember when I was a freshman in high school; I got a special present for my Mom. I went to the Markland mall and found a good deal on golden loop earrings at Andrew’s Jewelers. I kept telling my Mom, “You’re really going to love this gift. You’re really going to be happy about it.” It took all my energy to bottle it inside so I wouldn’t tell her what the gift was. Finally, she opened the present and loved it. Fourteen years later, those golden earrings are sitting in her jewelry box. What an encouragement. Do you like to gift gifts?
If you’re a Christian and the Holy Spirit is in you, you should desire to give. You know that God’s a giver, and to be a giver is a good thing. God so loved the world that He gave us His only Son (Jn. 3:16), The Lord Jesus himself said: “It is better to give than to receive (Acts. 20:35). Paul tells the church in Corinth that God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7), and here Paul is telling the church of Ephesus that God freely gives spiritual gifts to each one of us according to His marvelous grace.
Our God loves to give, and the more you get to know the God who gives, the more you become like the God who gives. One of the greatest tests of Christian maturity is whether you’re defined as a giver or a taker. What would people say about you? Think about this for a moment. Do you give people your time and energy (help with homework, drive someone to work, go out for breakfast and buy coffee) or do you make excuses that you don’t have time?
Here’s the truth. All of us are busy. Typically, the person who gives the most is busier than most. How does the busiest person give the most? They have prioritized their time. If a project needs to be done in seven weeks, this person will get it done in two weeks. Why? Because she knows that when the seventh week comes, she will be extra busy. By prioritizing her time, she is now more available and resourceful than others.
Here is another litmus test to determine whether you are a giver or taker. Do you contribute to the church? Do you give money that you make from your work or do you keep it all for yourself? I distinctly remember at seminary, when Olya and I started dating, she would always give money during the offering time. I thought to myself, how does she give? She works at seminary dining (minimum wage), is an international student, and the majority of her money goes to school. Her answer was simple: I give because God calls us to do so. See, I held all my money back and gave every once in a blue moon because my excuse was I had a dead end job. This was my excuse, but what about the widow in the Bible? She gave a tenth of what she had, which wasn’t much, but it was more than everyone else. It’s all about the motive of the heart.
J.L. Kraft, head of the Kraft Cheese Corporation, who gave 25% of all his enormous income to Christian causes for many years said, “The only investment I ever made which has paid consistently increasing dividends is the money I have given to the Lord. J.D. Rockefeller said, “I never would have been able to tithe the first million dollars I ever made if I had not tithed my first salary, which was $1.50 per week.” Don’t feel ashamed about giving little. Ask yourself again: Are you a giver or a taker? Once you determine the answer to that question, never forget the purpose of giving: To honor and glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.