Why No One Is Ever Truly Giving

We’re never truly giving.

The truth is that whenever we give, we’re always getting something in return.  Generosity is not a zero-sum game, no matter how it may look to us at times.

All too often, we think that if we give to someone else we’ll be left with less than what we had before. When we’re giving money, it’s easy to make that case based on what we see remaining in our wallets or bank accounts. When we give of our time, we can measure the opportunity costs for everything else we might have done with that time.

But it gets more challenging to measure what we give away when we offer a kind word or a welcoming smile. And how much is it worth to us to offer a listening ear, or to surrender a stereotype or tear down a wall in a relationship?

The Gift that Always Gives Back

The problem with thinking of giving as a one-way, giver-to-receiver transaction, is that giving always gives something to us in return. What we receive can come in many forms, such as:

  • The feeling of satisfaction at having helped another person.
  • The personal fulfillment of meeting goals for your own spiritual growth.
  • The perception of others that we are generous.
  • Favors that might follow in appreciation for your gift.
  • Tax deductions.

Even if we get none of the above in return for giving, when we give for the right reasons we receive God’s favor. Having our Creator pleased with us is no small reward; in fact, it may be the highest reward of all when measuring eternal value.

Why We Give

Far from discouraging us from giving, facing the reality of what we get out of giving puts the focus back where it belongs – on our motive for giving.

It’s hard to think too highly of ourselves for giving when we know that we are always receiving something in return. It sort of takes the fun of pious bragging, even to ourselves, right out of it.

When we stop thinking of giving as some form of loss, we see Christ turning loss into gain – our gain. We see Him working through us with His resources for His purposes. We just get to enjoy it all and be part of working out His will on earth as it is in heaven.

And that just may be, when we give, the very best thing we get.

Why do you tend to give? Have you noticed the benefits that come to you from being generous to others? Leave a comment below with your thoughts.

Preview the Living Generously film series at ReImagine Generosity.com to see how your church might use them to think Biblically about giving.

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About Jack Alexander

Jack C. Alexander is a lifelong businessman and entrepreneur. In 1987, partnering with Dutch billionaire John Fentener van Vlissingen, he cofounded the corporate travel management firm BCD Travel (formerly WorldTravel Partners). Jack also cofounded the travel technology firm TRX, which he grew from two employees to over 5,000. He received a National Entrepreneur of the Year award from Ernst and Young in 1999 for Principle-Centered Leadership. He has coached and advised for-profit and nonprofit leaders, including Chip Ingram, Crown Financial Ministries, and FCS-Urban Ministries.

Recently, Jack ran a nonprofit that raised and disbursed money and resources to the poorest of the poor in twenty-six countries. Led to Christ by the poor at a small church in Australia, but a successful entrepreneur, Jack has a rare perspective on wealth and poverty and shares that perspective frequently as a public speaker. He founded Rhemedia in 2010 to tell compelling cinematic stories that help modern audiences engage with biblical truths, especially truths around the sacrificial, generous life to which all followers of Christ are called.


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