“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” – Acts 20:35
As Christians, our life’s goal is to emulate the behavior and characteristics of Jesus Christ himself. In a world filled with materialism, strong political opinions, and clashing cultural religions, this isn’t always easy.
This is especially true when it comes to giving. It can be difficult to know how to follow in the footsteps of Christ. Are we to embrace the command that he gave the rich young ruler and leave everything to follow Him, or are we to invest our funds wisely so that we can further expand His mission?
Honestly, only you can discover God’s specific calling for your life and what it means for you to follow Him. However, there are a few things that we can do to ensure that our lives, and our giving, are more like Christ.
Focus on the eternal
Spend a moment at a busy intersection or next to a city highway and watch the people racing by. Each one of these people is urgently flying from one activity to another, consumed by the importance and priority of their schedule.
However, as to the driver in the next car over, their urgency is entirely unknown. While we often feel as if our next task is critical to the survival of life on this planet, the reality of the matter is that it often doesn’t really matter.
This isn’t to say that we should be unproductive. On the contrary, it means that we should constantly be evaluating our schedule to ensure that we’re spending time on the tasks that are most productive.
Instead of spending our days worrying about everything we have to do (see Matthew 6:34), let’s take the time to focus on the beauty of life around us – and more importantly, the people.
The greatest gift we can give anyone is to help them gain eternal life. Sometimes this is done through an evangelistic series or street-side preaching, but more often it’s done through a smile, lending a helping hand, and having a positive attitude.
When you keep an eternal perspective throughout your day, every activity you’re involved in, and every person you interact with will receive a similar gift to the one that Christ gave to every person he interacted with while on our planet.
Place people above possessions
Did you know that you can change a child’s life for $30/month? For the cost that most of us spend on a weekend dinner, we can help a child gain education, food, and clothing – essentially revolutionizing their life!
Christ realized that people are worth more than possessions, which is why he spent his energy growing people rather than his net worth. We should do the same.
This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t enjoy the gifts that God has given to us – but it does mean that we should maintain the mentality of a steward rather than an owner. Why did God give you that raise at work? Was it to buy a larger home, or to help pay for a struggling family member’s education?
As we transition our focus from possessions to people, we can know where and how to spend our time and money so that we are most like Christ.
Remember that people need love more than money
One story that often seems contrary to Christ’s normal way of doing things is when Mary Magdalene came and poured expensive perfume on His feet in Mark 14. When the disciples and dinner guests began discussing how Mary had wasted money, Jesus responded, “The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them anytime you want. But you will not always have me” (v. 7).
What’s going on here? Is this the one time Christ embraces the “treat yourself” mentality, knowing that He will be dying soon? Considering that Jesus generally praises the behavior of those who give to the poor, what’s going on in this story?
Ultimately, Jesus is making the statement that people are more important than money. Mary had done this out of love and honor for Him, and to recommend that she spend her money elsewhere would have humiliated and disappointed her. Meanwhile, Jesus’ disciples weren’t actually thinking about the poor – instead, they were thinking about the awkwardness of this woman crying at their Master’s feet.
The reality is, no one needs money – we need love, acceptance, and compassion. The richest person in the world, without a loving circle of family and friends, can feel even more miserable and depressed than someone living on the streets with absolutely nothing.
Therefore, while Jesus does encourage us to give our wealth to the poor and open up our wallets to the church, we should never give out of guilt or to gain something in return. Instead, we should give because we have love and compassion towards those we’re helping.
When this is the case, we become willing to give more than just money – but also our time, energy, and listening ears.
Today, take a moment to ask yourself how you can give like Jesus this week – and then do it.
Keywords: Pursuit of Happiness, What Would Jesus Do, how to give like Jesus