The Grace of Giving

iStock_000000651665XSmall
©iStockphoto.com/Gizmo

Early on in a child’s life, a parent will often impart the importance lesson of sharing. This is not a lesson that comes easy to a child as we are naturally quite selfish creatures. Our inclination is to hold on to what we have, not to give it to someone else for their use and enjoyment. We want to protect that which is “ours;” to cling to what “belongs” to us. Catchy phrases like “sharing is caring” may try to dissuade us from this proclivity, but often times the internal battle is intense.

As we get older we may be more prone to society’s pressure or parental instruction and thus more willing to share, but often it is still a struggle. Even if we are willing to share most of what we have there are certain things – money, time, a particular possession – that when the opportunity comes to give to another we are reticent to do so. It’s as if we all have our invisible lines that we have drawn in the sand – we’ll give this much but not further. Breaching that line requires intense negotiations – mostly with ourselves.

Yet for the Christian there can be no line in the sand, invisible or not, because God has called us to give all we have to Him (Phil. 3:8). We are to lay everything else aside in order to take up His cross and follow Him (Lk. 9:23). This means the rights to what is “ours” are no longer assigned to us – the talents, resources, wealth, intelligence or other blessings that He has bestowed or to be used for His purposes. We are to willing give all we have for the sake of Him and His Kingdom (Mt 6:33).

Yet, as we do this, we are often tempted to view this as drudgery. We may say that we are willing to sacrifice all for the sake of our Savior, yet we do so with a calculating spirit – adding up all that we have had to “give up” in order to be a Christian. We fail to see what David saw in I Chronicles 29:14 – there is grace in the ability to give what we have to worship God. What we view as a duty, is actually a gift.

As David said:

“But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.”

David didn’t see his offering as a chore; he saw it as a gracious act of a loving Father. There is no reason that God should accept His children’s sacrifice, why He should use what we offer to bring Himself glory, yet He does. Giving what we have isn’t a drudgery; it’s a blessing instead!

So the next time we are tempted to cling to what God has given us, may we like David ask ourselves “Who I am that I should even be able to present this offering to the most High God, our loving Creator, and gracious King?”. Then may we willing give to Him all we have – recognizing the grace that He has imparted to us to do so.

(For a wonderful message on this subject, check out John Piper’s “Public Worship in a Secular World: What, Why and How, Session 2.”)

What do you think?