Authored by Steve Hearts
It’s easy to talk about giving, but a challenge to do it. This is especially true when it involves sacrifice on our part. It’s plain to see, from biblical and modern-day examples, that God honors this kind of giving greatly. We are shown a clear example of this in Mark 12:41–44.
“Jesus sat down at the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, ‘I tell you the truth, 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.’”1
Quite possibly, some of those rich people gave more out of duty or a desire to be noted for their giving, rather than out of a sincere love for God. It was no great sacrifice on their part, since their giving didn’t affect their purse. The widow, on the other hand, was poor but willing to give all she had. She was giving with a sacrificial heart. This is why Jesus was pointing this out and why her gift received such praise.
Another pertinent example is that of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath. Elijah, God’s prophet, was led by the Lord to stay for a time by “the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan.”2 His water supply came from the brook and the Lord had sent the ravens to bring him food every day. But because of a severe drought in the land, the brook eventually dried up. So the Lord told Elijah, “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon, and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food. So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, ‘Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?’ As she was going to get it, he called, ‘And bring me, please, a piece of bread.’ ‘As surely as the Lord your God lives,’ she replied, ‘I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.’ Elijah said to her, ‘Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’ She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family.”3
The poor widow had plenty of valid justifications for taking Elijah’s words with a grain of salt. After all, he was a total stranger with a big request—one that could cost her and her son’s lives. It definitely took no small amount of faith on her part to give the last of her food, but she did and was abundantly rewarded for her giving!
What about the boy who gave his two fishes and five loaves of bread to Jesus?4 He must have wondered where exactly he was supposed to find anything to eat once he’d surrendered his lunch. But he willingly did so, trusting Jesus with complete, childlike faith, and he got more than enough to eat along with the rest of the multitude.
We tend to give more freely when it doesn’t cost us anything. But King David refused to give to the Lord “of that which cost him nothing.”5
Several years ago, I prayed specifically for an Ovation guitar. As soon as I got one, I felt the Lord speaking to me to give it to someone else who really needed one. This surprised me and made me wonder when would I ever be able to save up for one again? But there was no doubting what I felt in my heart to do.
About a week after I gave it away, I was invited to sing at the church of a musician friend who owned a music store. When I told him I had no guitar to play, he said, “No problem. I’ll choose something from my store and let you use it.” It turned out to be an Ovation guitar. I was thrilled!
When the service was over, I sought out my friend to thank him and say goodbye. He said, “Hey, don’t forget your guitar.”
“Excuse me?” I asked incredulously.
“While you were singing, the Lord clearly told me to bless you and your mission work with this guitar.”
I left that church feeling as though I were walking on air.
Although we may not always reap material blessings as a result of our giving, it never goes unrewarded—even if the rewards are purely spiritual.
I remember hearing a dramatized story of an elderly man named Jake. He knew how to play the harmonica and had a simple, strong faith in God. He lived in a convalescent home for the elderly. One day, he received a letter from his niece, informing him that she and her husband had arranged for him to move in with them. Money for his travel fare was included with the letter. He was overjoyed.
Shortly after this, another resident of this facility, by the name of Ed, received a telegram informing him that his granddaughter had passed away. To make this heartbreaking news even worse, Ed had no money to attend the funeral. Jake willingly offered him the money he’d received from his niece.
Jake decided to hitchhike to his destination. He was picked up by a young man named Clem.
At one point during the trip, the car stopped working and Clem went to the nearest town for parts. He left the car in the care of Jake, and as Jake sat in the car playing his harmonica, he attracted the attention of a man who lived nearby. The kindhearted soul invited him in for a bite to eat, and Jake befriended him and his family.
Three days passed and Jake spent mealtimes with his new friends, teaching them about the Lord and how to pray.
Clem finally returned with the needed car parts, and once back on the road, he apologized for taking so long. He explained that he’d been unable to get them immediately, and so while waiting, he got drunk. He then explained that his wife and kids had left him because of his drinking problem, and that he was on his way to try and win them back. But liquor had the best of him and he didn’t know how he would quit drinking. Jake told him about Jesus and His healing power and prayed for him. Clem felt a change take over him.
When reunited with his niece, Jake realized how happy he was that his travel plans turned out the way they had. It enabled him to lend a hand to a friend in need and share his faith with those he befriended. He knew he’d done the right thing by giving Ed his travel money and had gained a far more valuable blessing—that of souls won to God.
Is giving worth the cost? Of course it is. Jesus told us, “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.”6
You never lose by giving. Though there may be no immediate, apparent reward, you will one day recognize the blessings it brought to your life—whether physical or spiritual—and be glad you gave.
1 New International Version
2 1 Kings 17:3 NIV
3 1 Kings 17:9–15 NIV
4 See John 6:5–13.
5 See 2 Samuel 24:24.
6 Luke 6:38 NIV
Read by Stephen Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright© 2016 by The Family International