When given the option to find a point of comparison, we often compare ourselves downward.
Someone might say, “I know that Uncle Bill doesn’t give anything to church. I give 2.5%.” As if that’s a lot!
If you compare yourself to Uncle Bill, then the result will be pride and contentment. However, the Bible shows us giving heroes with which to compare our giving and generosity. I personally like comparing myself to these folks because it inspires me to strive to grow in the grace of giving.
1. Jesus Christ
At many churches within the Churches of Christ, people take the Lord’s Supper and then say, “separate and apart from the Lord’s Supper, we’ll take a collection.” The truth is that Paul connects the cross to our giving. The one (the cross) becomes the inspiration for the other (giving).
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. – 2 Corinthians 8:9 NIV
Oh, how rich we are with the blessings of Christ!
Interestingly, what Christ did was contrary to nature.
Rarely, will anyone die for a righteous person, but Christ died for the unrighteous (Romans 5:6-8).
In a bold challenge, Paul calls us to have this same attitude or mindset as Christ (Philippians 2:1-11). Christ valued us more than himself, and we, too, must value others above ourselves.
When I manage my finances, I value myself and my family. I even ensure that my family has many wonderful comforts. Christ, however, was motivated not by merely providing for himself, but by sacrificing for others so that they could have life to the fullest.
Father, at the foot of the cross I’m humbled to ask, “How can I give more for others?”
2. Macedonian Churches (2 Corinthians 8:1-7)
Paul was noticeably proud of these churches. They were poor, and thus, could have easily exempted themselves from the grace of giving. There’s not a single person who would have given them a hard time.
However, their extreme poverty resulted in rich generosity (2 Corinthians 8:1-2).
My entire life I’ve given from the surplus. I’ve given as a rich person.
Father, forgive me for times of pride when I’ve felt generous. Help me grow in the grace of giving. Allow my heart to grow to a capacity of rich generosity.
3. The Woman With the Expensive Perfume (Mark 14:1-10)
Generosity can make others indignant. I guess we all get uncomfortable when someone does something extreme with their faith.
This woman had a laser-like focus on Jesus. She blocked out everything else in her life and did something to honor the Christ. The end result was that she took some expensive perfume, shattered the bottle, and poured it on the feet of Jesus.
When I give, I grab the second rate perfume. When I give, I prefer to spray the bottle so as to hold something back.
She poured out her love and affection to Christ liberally.
Father, help me to focus on my discipleship of Christ. Help me to persistently seek ways to honor him with what I have.
Interestingly, this woman is contrasted with Judas in this story. Mark 14 starts by talking about the plot and ends when Judas agrees to betray Jesus.
Judas followed Jesus for what he could get from him. The woman followed for what she could give to him.
Father, forgive me for times when I’m more like Judas. May I seek to follow to give to Christ, not merely for what I hope to get from him.
Who are other giving heroes in the Bible that inspire you? Leave a comment!