In all this I have given you an example that by such work we must support the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, for he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ – Acts 20:35
A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation. The traveler left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime. But a few days later he came back to return the stone to the wise woman.
“I’ve been thinking,” he said, “I know how valuable the stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me something more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone.”
With spiritual maturity comes the realization that our consumer culture has it all wrong, and that Jesus had it right all along, “It is better to give than to receive.” Having things isn’t the problem; it’s that our things too easily have us. Giving sets us free. Every major world religion teaches the profound power of giving:
“Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.” – Buddha
“He who wishes to secure the good of others has already secured his own.” – Confucius
“They who give, have all things; they who withhold have nothing.” – Hindu Proverb
“You shall never be truly righteous until you give in alms what you dearly cherish.” – Qur’an Al-Imran
“Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.” – King Solomon, Book of Ecclesiastes
Everyone who seeks to follow Jesus must struggle with the question of how to best steward all that God has blessed us with. Not because God’s love for us hinges upon our generosity but because our hearts do: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21).
Ultimately giving isn’t a matter of financial strategy; it’s a matter of heart health.
Want to learn more about the connection between giving and your heart? Watch this.
Jeff Marian is lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN