Two-year-old Bella stood with her plump, bare feet pressed into the carpet. Her hair was a wreck; strands of it pointed in every direction. Her face was contorted with anger. Clenching her hands into two small fists, Bella screamed, “Mine.”
Mom had asked Bella to give one of her cookies to the daughter of a visiting friend, and Bella had refused. Typical behavior of a two-year-old, but how many 20-somethings, 30-somethings, 40-somethings, 50-somethings and beyond still act like Bella. We would rather receive than give.
The Attitude of Giving
Several Bible verses encourage us to have the attitude of giving. The two we refer to often are Luke 6:38 and Proverbs 11:25.
Luke 6:38 NIV states:
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Proverbs 11:25 states:
A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
Both verses describe a benefit of giving. Generally, being a generous person can improve your life.
What Can You Give
The term giving tends to automatically introduce images of money. Giving is so much more. Giving falls into three spectrums. You can give of your time, your talent and your treasures. Expressing words of encouragement or compliments to someone or having coffee with someone is an example of giving your time. Teaching someone a skill or sharing your knowledge about a topic is an example of giving your talent. And then, giving to someone’s personal need or to an event or a cause is an example of giving your treasure.
The Motive Behind Giving
The motive behind giving impacts the benefits we receive from an attitude of giving. When we give because we want praise, or we want something in return, our giving is ineffective. Giving with these motives leads to disappointment when the reward we get is not praised or something in return. I know someone who gave money and favors to get friends. This method rarely worked. What they had were people who demanded much more than they returned in the friendship.
Giving with the agenda of praise or reward feeds our spirit the attitude of selfishness instead of the attitude of giving. We remain like two-year-old Bella, stamping our feet and screaming “mine”.
What Does Giving Do For Your Spirit
When we give encouragement to others (our time), or show someone a skill (our talent), or give someone money (our treasures), we are making that person’s life a bit better. We are improving their life in some small, or maybe, large way. Helping others through our giving brings us joy. Knowing we impacted someone’s life in a good way brings us joy. Why? Because we are living according to how God intended his creation to live with each other. We are filling the hole within us.
Giving is an example of a good way to feed your spirit. Personally, I think of all the ways we can give, physical giving is probably easier. It’s harder to give in the non-physical ways such as giving grace to someone we think does not deserve it or giving forgiveness. However, these intangible ways of giving, lead to a greater reward for our spirit.
Last thought: Giving refreshes our spirit, but if you give without love in your heart then your giving has no effect on your spirit.
“If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[a] but do not have love, I gain nothing.”
1 Corinthians 13:3 NIV