Genuinely Generous Giving

As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” – Luke 21:1-4

While many people wish the church wouldn’t talk about money, the truth is Jesus had lots to say on the subject. In this series of devotions we’re exploring what Jesus teaches about genuine giving.

First, genuine giving is proportionate. How much we give only matters in proportion to how much we keep. That’s why Jesus made a big deal out of the widow’s offering in today’s bible reading. The widow didn’t give much, but she gave all she had, and that’s why Jesus said that the widow had given more than anyone else. The amount given was small, but the proportion was huge. Why does the proportion matter? Because it’s a commentary on the status of our heart. The proportion of our giving speaks to the status of our heart before God, the openness of our spirit and the depth of our gratitude.

Far too many Christians imagine that they’ll be more generous if and when they become rich, but the amount of money we have doesn’t matter. Generosity has more to do with the proportion we give than it does with the actual amount we give…no matter how much we actually own. Lots or wealthy people were giving offerings at the same time that the widow was giving her offering, but they were giving out of their excess. Their proportion was small and Jesus was unimpressed.

Consider this: a philanthropy study a few years ago found that those who earned under $10,000 gave an average of 5.2% of their income to charity. Those who earned between $10,000 and $19,999 gave an average of 3.3% of their income. And those who earned between $75,000 and $99,999 gave only 1.6%. I’ll say it again: how much you give only matters in proportion to how much you keep. Genuine giving is proportionate.

Do you know what proportion of your wealth you are giving to God? Let me challenge you to calculate it. Most of us think little of tipping a waiter or waitress 15% for good service at a restaurant, and yet we balk at giving even 10% to the Lord. What does the proportion of your giving say about your heart? Does it reflect your gratitude for all that God has given you? Genuine giving does!

Bringing It Home
1. Take a few moments to calculate the percentage of your giving relative to your income. You decide if you want to count just your giving to your church or all your charitable giving. You can also decide whether you wish to calculate from your gross or net income.
2. Honestly ask yourself, “Does my giving reflect my gratitude?” If you don’t like your answer, check your heart and change your behavior.

Lord, you said that where my treasure is, there my heart will be also. I want my heart to be with you. Grant me grace to be a genuine giver, not because you demand it but because you called me to live in generosity. Soften my heart where it is hard; open my hand when it is clenched. Thank you for freeing me to give. Amen.

Jeff Marian
Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Burnsville, MN

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