Giving 'til it hurts

“I want you to give something that costs you.”

My husband was encouraging our church’s students to pray about what they could give to help a college student go on a mission trip. 

“I don’t want you to give what you have left over, or what you don’t need. I’m challenging you to give sacrificially. This is the type of giving that most honors God.” He had a scriptural basis for challenging the students in this way. He shared an example from 2 Samuel 24.

King David was preparing to offer a sacrifice to God on the threshing floor of Araunah. Eager to assist the king, Araunah offered him his land and oxen free of charge. This was David’s response:

"No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD  . . .  offerings that cost me nothing."

Shortly after my husband challenged our students, Jim and Sarah came to him with money to give toward the mission trip. Of all the students in our youth group, these two are the least affluent. They live in a single parent household and work part time jobs to earn cash for necessities like clothes and shoes. Just recently, the moped they shared to get back and forth to work was stolen. They had many reasons to give sparingly, or not at all, but each quietly handed my husband a significant amount of money.

When the apostle Paul was collecting money to help the impoverished Jerusalem church, he used the Macedonians as an example of sacrificial giving.

“Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints” (2 Cor. 8:2-4).

When we were raising support for our family’s mission trip to Mexico, one man gave to us sacrificially. Instead of writing a check from the family bank account, He regularly skipped lunch and donated the money to our trip. We were greatly humbled.

The students from our youth group shamed me. God used them to show me that instead of planning to give generously and sacrificially, I’d been calculating an amount that would cause me the least amount of discomfort or inconvenience. I had been planning an offering that cost me nothing.

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." ~Jim Elliot, martyred missionary to the Auca Indians

Lord, sometimes I am so selfish. I forget that giving is a privilege, not a chore. I fail to remember that you love a cheerful, generous giver, not minimal one. Forgive me for losing sight of the debt of gratitude I owe You for your generous and sacrificial gift of your precious Son Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. Help me seek first your kingdom, and trust you to take care of everything else I need.”

Jim and Sarah, I want to be just like you when I grow up.

“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” (Luke 6:38).

Update: God has again shown himself as Jehovah Jireh. In response to Jim and Sarah's faith, he has provided not one, but TWO mopeds, both donated by kind friends. "Prove me this day," says the Lord, and see if I won't throw open the windows of blessing and pour you out a blessing so great you won't have room to receive it." (Malachi 3:10). 

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  1. Great reminder, Lori. I especially like being reminded of David's response about "offerings that cost me nohing." I'm sure Jim and Sarah will be greatly blessed for their sacrificial offering. God says, "Test me and see..."

  2. Always a timely post that blesses. Thank you for including Jim Elliot's statement in your post. Seeing that always brings tears to my eyes, makes me want to be more for Him. Blessings.

    1. I agree Lynn, reading the words of someone who so obviously "got it," is humbling and inspiring. Thanks for visiting!

  3. Wow, I really needed to see this. Thank you! Our church was flooded this spring, and we are having to build a new church on higher ground. Lately our pastor has been giving messages about giving sacrificially and I find myself getting frustrated, feeling like I haven't anything to give, or what I do have, I need to keep for the sake of being sure we have enough to get by.

    Thank you for the message. It really helps me see this from a better perspective.

    1. Jenn,

      In almost 30 years of Christianity, I have never been able to outgive God, and it's been the time I've stepped out in faith and given sacrificially that God always manages to turn it around to bless ME instead. . . it's an oxymoron that defies explanation. God bless you for being open to His call!