Giving: Responding to the Generous Grace of Jesus

Do we really need to talk about this?

Conversations around giving can be a bit complicated to navigate — and for good reasons. We’re all too familiar with the uncomfortable stories and traumatic experiences that surround this topic: pastors that motivate through guilt and shame, friendships fractured because of money disagreements, passive aggressive asks that create confusion. The topic of giving is something most of us would rather shy away from, and I get it. Real spiritual abuse, real hurt, and real loss is associated with this topic. We must grieve where these offenses have occurred and work to repair the fractures they’ve caused — but abusus non tollit usum (misuse is not an argument against proper use). 

The Bible robustly talks about giving; so it’s good for the church to robustly talk about giving. But how we talk about it matters just as much. Throughout the Bible, giving is treated as a practice of grace — not something you do to check a box or a means to an end. When Jesus talked about it, he described it as a window into your heart (Matthew 6), and even more, a practice that must be integrated with faith (Matthew 23). We must talk about giving because it is a practice that shapes us to know and enjoy God more deeply. This is a conversation that demands curiosity, kindness, and grace.

What’s the Biblical rationale to give?

The Bible is telling one cohesive story. So when we go to the Bible to understand the rationale for a specific practice, we’re interacting with a story, not a textbook that provides proofs to problems. Within the Story of the Bible, there are a few giving principles woven throughout:

1. We give because God is a giver

All humanity is made in the image of a God that gives creation life (Genesis 1-2), gives his Son (John 3:16), and whose Son gives his life for the life of this world (John 15:13; 2 Corinthians 5:15). When we give we are reflecting our design and our designer.

2. We give to express gratitude to God

All things are God’s things (1 Chronicles 29:14), and anything that we have is a gift from God (James 1:17) — which builds out the rationale for a tithe (Leviticus 27:30-32). The tithe, literally meaning a ‘tenth’ in Hebrew, was a practice aimed at shaping God’s people to see and remember God’s generosity to them.

3. We give to participate in God’s renewing work

Beyond a tithe, God calls his people to further reflect him in stewarding their resources to promote mercy and goodness. Throughout the Bible this is often referred to as offerings (2 Corinthians 8). This ‘above and beyond’ giving principle extends into all of life. In Leviticus 23:22, God calls his people to leave the edges of their fields unharvested as a gift and act of mercy to sojourners. This is Kingdom-priority giving.

All things are a gift from God; our giving is a means of knowing, enjoying, and reflecting the Giver more deeply.

But what’s the motivation to give?

We can agree that a practice might be good, and even understand the rationale behind it, yet still not be motivated to embrace it. The starting point for giving isn’t what you have to do, it’s responding to what God has already done. The motivation for Christians to give is shaped by receiving the generous grace of Jesus. In 2 Corinthians 8, when the Apostle Paul was challenging a young church to greater generosity, he took them back to grace:

“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 by his poverty might become rich.”

When the generous grace of Jesus grabs hold of us, it shapes us to look more and more like himself — and it re-frames (might I even say: redeems) our entire framework around giving! Generous, grace motivated giving is always responsive. This means generous giving is not defined by a percentage; rather, it’s the posture of a heart that’s being shaped by grace.

To do the practice without your heart is hypocrisy, but to do the practice to gain your heart is wisdom

Paul Ranheim

How can I practice giving?

Whether you’re stepping into giving for the first time or you’re aiming to grow in your generosity, the following road map may be helpful. Remember: the goal isn’t checking a box, it’s engaging your heart. Some of us may want to pick one thing and focus on that for a month. Others of us may want to try on a different practice each week.

Practice 1: Simply Receive

  • If you’re struggling to find the motivation to give, start with receiving. Press into practices that bring you face-to-face with the grace of God. Re-visit sabbath rest, prayer, friendship, or even marking time.
  • Try on this (extremely helpful) 5-day devotional. It’s a great resource for understanding the grand generosity of God more deeply.

Practice 2: Prayerfully Plan

  • Like most things in life, we don’t get too far without a plan. Carve out intentional time for asking God to shape your giving to be responsive to his grace. Further, ask God where you can give, and what you can give to, that demonstrates Kingdom priorities.
  • Write out giving goals for the month/quarter/year. Ask God to give you wisdom about these goals and to grow you into a generous steward of his good gifts.

Practice 3: Courageously Give

  • Give your time — Identify people and/or places where you can generously give of your presence
  • Give your talents — Consider what skills and/or abilities you have that may show mercy or promote goodness
  • Give your treasures — Give faithfully to your local church, and if you’re able, give mercifully beyond that in ways that embody Kingdom priorities

However you choose to press into this practice, we recognize that each of us brings a unique story to the conversation. Perhaps there’s some processing and healing that need to happen before trying on one of these practices; or perhaps you’d like to explore some nuances about giving in a more personal way. Don’t hesitate to reach out to Paul or Justin to pick up the conversation further.


The God Who Gives, by Kelly M. Kapic (a 5-day generosity devotional)

Gifted to Give, a sermon by Pastor Kyle Wells

Giving Respite Care Changed Our Family, an article by Tet George

Sermon Audio

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