by Giovanna Cavagnaro
Recently God has been teaching me about giving. Giving is a beautiful thing. I think God enjoys it when His children give, because He’s a giver Himself. You see, in our natural world giving is not generally seen as something useful or profitable for any purposes other than being kind, but that’s because the world functions under scarce resources. God does not. He has unlimited funds, unlimited goods, unlimited resources. So while the world’s rationale may lead us to believe that when we give, we lose goods, God’s word says our blessings are multiplied! Deuteronomy 15:10 says, “Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.” God promises to bless those who give, and when God’s promises are involved, you know it’s a good investment!
I’ve seen this play out in my life. I love giving, and I do it as frequently as I’m led to. However, when I signed myself up to go on a mission trip to South Africa, God did not allow me to fund myself (it’s not the first time He’s done something like this to me). Nevertheless, He did allow me to give to others going on this trip. This may seem redundant, but there’s an underlying principle behind it. If I just funded myself, I would be neglecting dozens of people the right to bless me and be blessed through their giving. But when I helped fund someone else, I was blessed through the giving and the person receiving was blessed by my giving. In that situation alone, the blessing was automatically multiplied. But it doesn’t stop there; the person I gave to was so touched by my gift that she decided to do the same to someone else going on the trip. My one simple gift created a culture of giving within the mission team group.
Though this sounds all good and dandy, the place where I was really pushed out of my comfort zone was in receiving. I would much rather be in the giving end of the stick, but God was teaching me how to receive. It was difficult. My least favorite activity is fundraising. Needless to say, I was really not looking forward to asking everyone I know to help me with this trip. Nevertheless, God was more than faithful, surprising me with His generosity. People I hardly expected to hear back from were among the first to give. I felt so incredibly loved. And that’s a blessing. Those who gave showed me love, and I got to feel it. My favorite story is one involving my aunt and uncle. One of the people they work for randomly gave them $100 because something in her spirit was saying that they had someone in need, and they automatically thought of me. I was already amazed that I was the one they chose to direct those $100 to, but on top of that they gave an additional $100 out of their pocket! I felt honored beyond words. I almost felt the urge to tell them it was too much, but once again God did not allow me to turn it down, because if I did, I would be keeping them from the blessing He promises to those who give.
Through these experiences I’m reminded of Proverbs 11:25, “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” From experience I know this to be true, because God is just. I can recall times when I’ve intentionally surprised people with generosity, and now I myself am surprised by others’ generosity.
I have one specific kind of giving I also wanted to mention. This type of giving is controversial and always gets a bad rap: tithing, giving 10% of your income to your church. I don’t want to get too deep into the theology of tithing, but I do want to bring up Malachi 3:10, “’Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the LORD Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.’“ This is a very powerful statement, and it personally makes me very excited! God asks us to test Him and tithing, saying that he will “throw open the floodgates of heaven”! Remember, in God’s kingdom, resources are not scarce. Therefore, this verse has strong implications for those who tithe. Yes, there are plenty of arguments around regarding tithing, especially regarding scandals about what is done with that money. Regardless, in His holy word, God asks us to tithe, and regardless of whether or not it’s required of us or whether or not the tithe money is used appropriately, the fact that God very clearly asks us to tithe says something about His character. He promises blessings for those who do. A friend once told me that I’m the only person she ever knew who tithed. That broke my heart. Both churches as an entity and the people in them are being neglected of the blessing that comes from tithing. I’ve heard so many testimonies of how God had provided for those who tithed faithfully, regardless of what season they were in life; my family is one of those examples. I for one, am overjoyed when I tithe! It means that God provided me with a paycheck! And being joyful when you give is scriptural, as 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “God loves a cheerful giver.”
Lastly, I want to mention that the most important factor in giving is not the face quantity, but the heart behind the gift. The best example I can give is of the widow whose story is told in Mark 12:41-44. Jesus was more pleased with her small offering than of the Pharisees’ large offerings, because of her heart; the value she gave was small, but it was all she had, and she trusted that God would provide for her. So I guess my punchline is, surprise God with generous giving, and He will surely surprise you right back with His.