Two days after Easter I turned 36 and my most surprising birthday present came from my daughter.
I have a five year-old boy and a six and a half year-old girl. And as a part of their Easter egg spoil, they each came into possession of three quarters… big money for little people.
After a special birthday breakfast, a bounty of birthday cards, and play-time with their new Easter Play-Doh, my daughter held out her hand and said, “Here you go!” Into my hand fell two quarters. My heart melted.
Out of the very little she had, she wanted to give… to me. My wife hadn’t put her up to this. It was her gift and it was beautiful. When I asked her why she wanted to do that she said, “I wanted to be generous.”
An hour earlier I had opened a card from my father-in-law who generously included a hundred dollar bill, which he playfully referred to as “Uncle Ben”. These two gifts, $100 and $0.50 came back to back and both were loving acts of generosity.
Giving To Our Father
When we think about giving too often we compare our giving with that of others. If we’re giving quarters and they’re giving hundreds we feel insignificant. If we’re giving hundreds and they’re giving quarters, we can feel more important. But when our giving is to our Father does it really matter?
Giving is our response of love to our Father. It’s a declaration of our trust in his provision. It’s an act of participation in his work. It’s not a competition, it’s a gift to our Father in Heaven.
God wants us to bring what we have, not what we don’t have. Jesus loved the widow who put in the two copper coins when it was all she had to live on. He didn’t tell her that she couldn’t afford to give. Instead, he praised her publicly. (Mark 12:41-44) Would your giving cause Jesus to praise you publicly?
Generosity Starts Small
Jesus said generosity starts small. “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.” (Luke 16:10) Our future faithfulness could be predicted by our present faithfulness with what we have right now. I know you don’t have somebody else’s much. That’s okay. But what are you doing with your little?
Giving is one of the weakest areas of our Christian discipleship. Eighty years ago the average Christian in America gave 3% of their income to charitable causes. Now, it’s 2%. In two generations the needle has not moved in the right direction. We enjoy more toys and luxuries than our parents and grandparents, but we love money more than they did.
What we need is a revival of generosity.
Talk About It
Somehow we’re afraid to talk about money and giving. People get squirmy, so we shy away. Despite the fact that Jesus talked about money more than any other subject, including heaven and hell, we’re okay letting it be off limits.
We’re afraid of condemning people. We don’t want to make new laws. Meanwhile, we allow the love of money to go unchecked and unchallenged. That’s not loving to people or honoring to God.
But it’s not too late. We can learn from Pastor Tim Keller in New York City who recently said in an interview, “I’ve not spoken about generosity enough. I’ve probably shied away from the topic, even though the Bible talks about it a great deal.”
Let’s start the conversation now. Let’s talk about generosity more and see what God does in our hearts. Let’s pursue faithfulness right where we are, with the little or much that we have.
To the God who owns the universe and everything in it, all our giving is like my daughter’s two quarters. He loves when we stop looking at others and approach him with our hands held out in love bringing our gift to our Father.