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May 1, 2024 | By Jay Ashbaucher

Winston Churchill is accredited with this quote, “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.” It is a striking quote and one which deserves much thought. Churchill is not the only one to suggest such a thought. According to the Bible, Jesus said, “It’s more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). I am in no way minimizing getting an abundance of things or being rich by making money. The Bible does not say it is wrong to be rich. Our fathers in the faith, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, were materially wealthy. So was the man, Job, along with many others. However, we do not need to be rich to make a living, we just need to get enough to sustain our lives. One reason to have more than we need, says the Bible, is so we can help others. But we can also help others if we are poor. Jesus commented on a poor woman who gave of her money by saying she gave more than the rich because “they gave out of their wealth, but she gave out of her poverty” (Mark 12:44). Yes, we do need to get to make a living, but we can have a more blessed and satisfying life when we freely and cheerfully give to bless others.

Another thing the Bible says that helps us appreciate the value of giving, and the reason for giving, is to consider a question that ultimately comes from our Creator, “What do you have that you did not receive” (1 Corinthians 4:7)? Try to find one thing in your life that you got on your own that you have not received from another source. Such a realization teaches us that there is no room for boasting or feeling arrogant, as if we made our own way in life. Such a realization ought to humble us and make us thankful to God and to others for what they have contributed to our well-being. For example, when persons who come to my house to perform their job of repairing something that I can’t fix, perhaps a plumbing or electrical problem, I will say to them, “Thank you. I want you to know that you are not just working to make a living for yourself or your family, you are serving people’s needs, and I am grateful to you for helping me.” Even though I am paying them to do their job, I do it to help them, because they need it to make their living; we help each other. God created a world where everything is interdependent. In order to make life a blessed existence and experience, we all need what others give us, and they need what we can give them.

In that same 1 Corinthian 4 passage just mentioned, the apostle Paul says that he sends one of his fellow workers, Timothy, to various churches to teach others a principle about giving (4:17). Here is what Paul wants Timothy to teach: “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed” (1 Timothy 6:17-19).

God’s word also reminds us that when we help others, we are honoring God and pleasing Him. Consider the following. Hebrews 13:16: “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Proverbs 22:9: “The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.” Proverbs 19:17: “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done.” Proverbs 14:31: Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him. Proverbs 11:25: “Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” This last Bible verse says a lot about giving’s effect on us. We are “enriched”, we are “watered”. I know people who regularly go out of their way to meet needs of others. I admire them. I want to be like that. Their selfless generosities come back to bless them in return, not necessarily materially speaking, but in terms of living a life that feels fulfilling and satisfying. If you or I find ourselves, so to speak, “down in the dumps”, or having feelings of loneliness or self-pity, what a lift it can be to reach out and bless someone, to help someone, to give something of one’s self for the good of others. Have you discovered this, that giving lifts your spirits, and in some significant way “enriches” you? You don’t even have to go far out of your way to help someone. You can tremendously bless another simply by thanking them for something and saying how much it meant to them. You can write a note, or make a phone call, or send a text, or communicate a verbal word in passing that lets them know you’ve been thinking of them, and appreciate what they mean to you, or do for you.

Our attitude toward money and wealth affects our attitude toward giving. According to the Bible, not money itself, but the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil. The love of money can produce many negative results, one of which may be self-centeredness and no real desire to help or bless others. Our love is misplaced. Instead of the love of money, what about considering the love of God? By experiencing God‘s love for us, He gives us a love for Him and for others. Giving will best be guided by incorporating the love of God into our lives (1 John 4:19).

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