A strong characteristic of living a Christian lifestyle is having a giving heart. In fact, giving is our foundation. Remember John 3:16 - "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." (NIV)
If God cared enough about us to give His only son for our benefit, we should care enough about each other to willingly give of our resources to help those in need. Giving is all about attitude.
Do it out of love
Giving must come from the heart or it doesn't count. In 1 Corinthians 13:3, Paul wrote, "If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing." (NIV)
Some people may feel that they don't have enough to give to others. But what we must remember is that it is about quality, not quantity. In Matthew 23, Jesus criticized the teachers and Pharisees for not practicing what they were preaching. He also pointed out that while they were giving a tenth of their gain, their other affairs were not in order.
Jesus also gave us another example in Mark 12:41-44. Jesus watched a crowd as they gave offerings at the temple. Rich people gave large sums of money, but a poor woman was only able to give two coins that were worth less than a penny.
Jesus had more respect for the woman than He had for the rich people. "This poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything - all she had to live on." (Mark 12:43-44 NIV)
Regardless of what you are able to give, do it cheerfully. Paul also wrote in 2 Corinthians 9:7, "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." (NIV)
You will be rewarded
The most awesome reward we get from giving to others is a closer bond with our Lord. Remember that when we do for others, we do for Him.
There are also eternal rewards. We should be willing to give because we should not be concerned about accumulating things here on earth, as they are only temporary. Rather, we should focus on storing treasures in heaven. (Matthew 6:19-21) Paul reminds us in 1 Timothy 6:17-19 that the wealth of this world is uncertain. We should put our trust in God and "be rich in good deeds." (NIV)
Solomon pointed out that there are also rewards while we are here on earth. In Proverbs 11:24-25, he wrote, "One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed." (NIV)
Paul discusses it further in 2 Corinthians 9:6-8. He wrote, "Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." (NIV)
The Word on giving
We are instructed to give in several respects. First, we should tithe. Since God has enabled us to do everything that we are capable of, we should willingly give back a tenth of what He provides us.
We should also give to our churches and the workers. God has placed these people in our lives to help us. Paul wrote in Galatians 6:6, "Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor." (NIV)
Lastly, we should give to those in need. Jesus told his apostles a parable about the sheep and the goats. (Matthew 25:31-46) We are to look after one another: the hungry, the thirsty, those without shelter, those who need clothes, the sick, the imprisoned. He said, "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." (Matthew 25:40 NIV)
Ozeme J. Bonnette is a financial coach, speaker, and author of Get What Belongs to You: A Christian Guide to Managing Your Finances. Her focus is on increasing financial literacy among adults and youth around the U.S. She earned 3 Bachelor's degrees at Fresno State, and her MBA at UCLA's Anderson School.