Sacrifice of Giving

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[dropcap]J[/dropcap]esus talked a lot about giving.

When Jesus gave Himself, He didn’t hold back. He gave His energy, He gave His time and, ultimately, He gave Himself. If we are trying to follow His example as Christians then we shouldn’t do any less. The Bible says that there is a time to give, and there is a time to receive. Jesus reminds us that it is more blessed to give than it is to receive.

If Jesus hadn’t given Himself, what point would there be in us giving of ourselves? Jesus did give His all for us, even though we were ‘enemies of God’ and had done nothing to deserve His grace and generosity. We should therefore give back to Him and give to others in the same spirit, reflecting His attitude in our actions.

There are a number of different ways that we can give. Those who are earning pay tax, you can be a regular giver to the church or you can give of your life in other ways.

I just received my Annual Tax Summary letter. It shows how much tax I have paid in the last year and what it has gone towards. Jesus paid tax. ‘Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s’. When I pay my tax, I recognise that it’s important to do. It’s not something I have much choice about, but I recognise that God has placed me in a country where I have civil freedoms, rights and protections. These are in place because of those whom God places in positions of authority. Paying tax means that I am supporting the nation that I believe God has called me to be part of. It’s not just a number that’s deducted from my salary. It’s a way of doing God’s will for me.

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When I started earning a salary, I decided to give at least 10% to Christian work. This normally means a tithe to my local church, but it also includes supporting missionaries as well as first-fruits offerings to other ministries. There are some investments that my local church needs to make in the next year and they will need significant funds to do them. I believe in the mission of the church and I recognise the importance of supporting the work of God’s church in my local community. Giving financially is one way of doing this.

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Once, I felt quite strongly to give a significant gift to the church. It was a New Year’s Eve church service, and I made this a ‘first-fruits’ gift for the year. Within a few months of giving that gift, I had received 3 job offers and two pay rises. That wasn’t the reason that I gave to the church, I just did because I felt that it was what God wanted me to do. An apparent consequence of that obedience was a blessing I wasn’t looking for.

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What if I don’t have any spare money to give? How should I respond to Jesus’ generosity? One of the most poignant stories in the ministry of Jesus is about a poor widow – even though she had very little to give, she gave it all.

So Seek God. Whatever He has placed in your hand is yours to steward as He wants you to. It’s up to you how you spend your time, but giving kind words or empathising with somebody who is struggling doesn’t cost much money. It could make a huge difference in that person’s life though.

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We, as human beings, are made in the image and likeness of God. When we give ourselves to Him, we are returning what is already His. Giving is not just about the act of bestowing something from one person to another. It is a representation of giving ourselves. Our time, our energy, our possessions: these are all part of what we have access to that can be used to bless God and to do good to others. The Lord loves a cheerful giver.

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