“For God so loved the world, that God gave…” – John 3:16 (NRSV)
There’s no better place to begin a consideration of what we should give to God than with an appreciation for God has given to us. When God gave us Jesus, God didn’t just give us the best that God has; God gave us all that God has and all that God is.
According to John’s Gospel, the motivation for God’s gift was love. Where would we be today if God had only loved us without giving us a gift that tangibly expressed that love?
The world is full of people who claim to love certain people, certain causes, certain institutions. But loving without giving tangibly is either insincere or irresponsible. A pastoral colleague of mine often jokes that if her church could be financed by prayers and well wishes alone, she’d never again have to worry about meeting her annual church budget. I always laugh when she says it, but we both know it’s not a joke.
When we consider what we should tangibly give to support the work of God, we should seek to be more aware of the tangible gifts of love that we have received. The God who provides for us is the God who provides through us.
The magnitude of what God calls us to give should reflect our gratitude for the magnitude of what God has given us. The Greatest Giver of All deserves our very best gifts and our very best sacrifices.
Great Giver, thank you for love that is tangible.
A version of this devotional by Ken Samuel also appears in On Giving: Reflections & Resources for Pre-Generous Parishioners, a collection of witty wisdom about an awkward topic. Order On Giving here.