In our church we have an annual ‘Miracle Offering’, also referred to as ‘Sacrificial Offering’. The heart behind it is for each person to give an amount outside of the normal giving, with the expectation that whatever is sown will produce a great harvest in God’s Kingdom and in their own life.
In the weeks leading up to it, my mind raced with thoughts of, “What if I don’t give enough? What if I give too much and then am left wanting? Am I supposed to give literally everything I have, like the widow in Mark 12? Do I lack faith if I don’t give as much as someone else?”
Thankfully, I have found so much wisdom in God’s Word that speaks directly to my conflicting thoughts and guides my decisions around giving. The biggest discovery and freeing truth for me is that giving and being generous is never about money, but about our hearts!
2 Corinthians 9:7 (AMP) says, “Let each one give (thoughtfully and with purpose) just as he has decided in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver (and delights in the one whose heart is in the gift).” If we give massive offerings and spend all the money we have on the poor, but our hearts are far from God, He would rather we not give (1 Corinthians 13:3).
Thinking through this has helped me in my decisions on how much to give. I check my heart and if I find that I am giving with reluctance, then I can confidently release myself from doing so, based on the Word of God.
If that’s the case, why give at all? Matthew 6:21 answers this question: “Where your treasure is, there your heart is also.” We pour our money and resources into what we value, and this works in reverse too—what we spend on becomes an invested interest of ours. Our heart is attached to what we give to.
There have been times when I have felt prompted by the Holy Spirit or I see a particular need that compels me to give. In that moment of conviction, I don’t necessarily feel “cheerful” right away, but often, when I pause to give thought to it and consider the purpose of the giving (2 Corinthians 9:7), I find myself getting excited to be a part of what God is doing!
We Can Never Outgive God
Recently, I received a substantial amount of money that was not mine. I was told to use it for a particular purpose, which I did, but there was a lot of change. I notified the owner about the excess, and she responded by telling me to keep it! So, this money that I was not expecting was suddenly mine to do with what I liked.
I immediately thought of a colleague who was going through a tough financial situation and got excited that God may be able to use me to be the answer to her prayers. But since I would not see her for a week, during that time, I started thinking of all the things I could do with that money.
By the time I saw her, I actually felt reluctant to give it. I even asked God for a sign or confirmation but didn’t sense that I got anything. I was almost ready to use “God didn’t tell me to” as reason to not give it.
Sometimes we don’t hear a specific instruction from God, but we see a need that will cost a lot. In my case, I believe that so long as my decision was made with the right heart, I could have either kept it or given it and God wouldn’t have minded either way.
But I knew that this giving was well within my means and that the money was not mine to begin with. Furthermore, all I have is from God anyway, and as I give, He will keep supplying my needs. The words of Charles Spurgeon inspired me: “Even if I give the whole of my worth to Him, He will find a way to give back to me much more than I gave.”
Another time, I held a Bible study at a local café and my friend invited a whole group of newcomers who were not used to talking about God and the Bible. To break the ice, I felt prompted to offer to pay for all their drinks. When that thought entered my head though, I cringed because I knew it would add up to a lot, especially for what I earn.
But instead of simply dismissing the thought, I took time to consider the purpose—if my sacrifice could make way for people’s hearts to open up to God, then it was a small price to pay. So I did it, and was blessed to see many of them share their struggles, request prayer, and even give their hearts to the Lord!
Shortly after that, a friend messaged to say she left $120 for me as a thank you for helping her out previously with cleaning up her family home.
Give Out of What You Have
Giving according to what you have, not what you don’t have, is a key principle mentioned in 2 Corinthians 8:12. I have seen the crippling effects of giving beyond your means. There are people who get loans to offer big amounts of money in their annual ‘Missions Offerings’. They go into debt and end up having to rely on others for their living expenses, which I believe isn’t what God wants us to do.
Being in debt and living beyond your means is warned against in Scripture (Proverbs 17:18; Romans 13:8; Proverbs 22:7), while budgeting for your finances, including your giving, is encouraged (e.g., Luke 14:28-30).
God wants us to give and to steward what we have well. One practical thing I have done before is to set aside an envelope specifically for giving. Each week, I would put at least 5% of my pay into it so when the opportunity came to give, I could do so freely and cheerfully.
One way I give out of what I have is by asking God to show me where the seed is that He wants me to sow. The Bible clearly says that He gives seed to the sower and then causes an increase in harvest! (2 Corinthians 9:10) The ‘seed’ may be sitting in my savings account, or my next paycheck, a holiday bonus, or in a new opportunity to make money.
The same week I had been seeking God about what to give in the Miracle Offering, I received a reimbursement in my bank account that I had forgotten I was getting. It would have been nice to set that money aside for my yearly travel, but I felt this was the seed, so I purposefully and cheerfully sowed it.
Every time I have asked God for the seed to sow into offerings, He has always shown me where to find it. This gives me confidence to give more than what I think I need to save for myself, knowing that God honours an obedient heart.
What about times when finances are tight, and you really have no money to give? Well, generosity isn’t just limited to money. There are plenty of ways to give and be generous. Money can be earned back, but time is something we cannot get back! It is just as precious as (if not more so than) money.
You may have heard about the five love languages—quality time, acts of service, words of encouragement, giving gifts and physical touch—the different ways people can give and receive love.
Knowing your community, you can probably tell what they appreciate and in times where your budget is tight, you can consider giving hand-made vouchers that can be redeemed for friend dates or help with certain errands or even chores!
Take time to consider how God has wired you to be generous and what those around you can receive and be blessed by. Generosity is a lifestyle, and an overflow of the love and generosity you have received from God.