Giving That Counts

Giving That Counts April 24, 2024

All throughout this month we’ve examined different issues relating to Biblical giving. First we had an overview, then we looked at tithes, and last time we looked at different types of offerings. For this installment, we are going to look at giving that counts: what makes giving count, and why that matters.

Do you believe your giving matters? Many feel if they don’t give, their money won’t be missed. When we give to God’s cause and we give God’s way, our resources always matter. Scripture shows us just how much, too. Through a few different stories, all showing the relevance of giving, we can all understand just how important it is that we give. Scripture also shows us that not only does it matter that we give, it also matters how we give. In all things, we should give with a good attitude, without force, and with excitement. As long as we do our best (and yes, God knows if we do not),

giving a flower to another
Photo by cottonbro studio:

we can focus on giving that counts.

Sacrificial giving

I know this story tends to be “done to death,” but there are many facets of it we overlook. It’s a nice enough story of a poor woman who gives everything she has…but there’s more to the story than just that. It’s not there to serve as an anecdote about poverty and greed.

As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” (Luke 21:1-4, NIV)

The story opens with rich individuals putting their offerings into the temple treasury. As people of means, giving to the temple treasury wasn’t a sacrifice. They gave out of everything they had, with still enough left over to be considered “rich.” Much like celebrities give today, their giving is to their benefit: it looks good and doesn’t really cost them much. Onlookers might feel what they do is noble or special, especially given the amount they give is higher than someone else. Still, regardless of the amount…there’s not much behind the offering.

In contrast, a poor widow woman put in two Lepton. Lepton was the smallest currency, approximately 1/100th of official value. It was a small amount, but cost her more than the rich who also gave that day. While they gave out of abundance, the poor widow gave sacrificially; she gave all, while they gave some.

Giving should cost something

It’s an unpopular opinion, but true, nonetheless: giving should cost us something. Whether we give financially, of our time, resources, abilities, or talents, we shouldn’t be giving just to be noticed by others. Giving isn’t a PR opportunity. Rather, God asks that when we give, we give part of ourselves, uniting ourselves to Christ’s sacrifice in the process. This is the truest definition of giving that counts!

Avoiding greed

If you turn on the average televangelist today, odds are good you’ll hear a message in an all-too-familiar style: you’ll be asked to give and told if you do, God will bless you in an abundant fashion. Usually, the promise is that whatever you give to that individual, you’ll receive back a financial windfall. There are special giving drives, fundraisers to get people out of debt, for special requests, and beyond. Most preachers offer a handful of Bible verses quoted out of context as theological proof of their position.

Unlike many, I’m not going to discuss the greed of the prosperity preachers. Yes, that’s a thing, but it’s a well-promoted thing. The greed we don’t examine often enough is that of the participants – of those who want an easy way to get rich and hope giving is the way to accomplish such. We can talk about bad theology all day long, but we don’t talk about the underlying reasons why people buy bad theology. In this instance, greed offers what seems like a divine get-rich-quick scheme…and people are quick to eat it up.

A lesson in idolatry

Deuteronomy 7:25 offers us a stern warning about greed:

The images of their gods you are to burn in the fire. Do not covet the silver and gold on them, and do not take it for yourselves, or you will be ensnared by it, for it is detestable to the Lord your God. (NIV)

God’s directive to Israel is something we should heed ourselves. The Israelites didn’t chase after other gods because they thought they were true. Rather, they chased after those gods out of a sense of greed. They wanted the prosperity, lifestyles, and benefits they felt their idolatrous neighbors had. Following God required more of them than they wanted to give. As a result, everything about those idols – including the metals used to make them – offered a temptation for Israel. They couldn’t keep any part of them, even if they changed the form of their fashion.

Maybe today we aren’t tempted to chase after idols in the form of other gods. There are still plenty of ways we chase our idols, even in our giving. Giving to get something back isn’t really giving; it’s a bartering system. As we can see with the Israelites, God doesn’t “barter” with His people. If we give for no other reason to gain, it’s unlikely to see a “return” on investment. While yes, God does bless those who give, giving that counts doesn’t involve bartering.

Keeping your word

Acts 5:1-11 tells the story of Ananias and Sapphira.

Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.

Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”

When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.

bout three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”

“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”

Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”

At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events. (NIV)

Pledging to the Lord

The Old Testament validates that when we pledge to give something to the Lord, such is irrevocable. We can’t decide to hold back part of it for ourselves; we must give all of it. Sometimes we are hasty in wanting to look good while giving, and later regret whatever we’ve offered to God. If we promise to give, we need to do so; without persuasion or reminder. Ananias and Sapphira prove it’s not about amounts; it’s about giving with a wrong motive and hoping God won’t notice. Giving that counts is just as much about keeping our promise as it is what we actually give.

Get excited about giving!

Sometimes giving feels like the last thing we want to do. In a world full of takers, giving can seem counterproductive. Regardless, God calls us to give with a good attitude, eagerly and with anticipation of all He will do as we advance His Kingdom through giving. Pursue giving that counts. You will find your life is much better if you seek to be a giver rather than a taker!


About Lee Ann B. Marino
Dr. Lee Ann B. Marino, Ph.D., D.Min., D.D. (”The Spitfire”) is “everyone’s favorite theologian” leading Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z as apostle of Spitfire Apostolic Ministries. Her work encompasses study and instruction on leadership training and development, typology, Pneumatology, conceptual theology, Ephesians 4:11 ministry, and apostolic theology. She is author of over thirty-five books, host of the top twenty percentile podcast Kingdom Now, and serves as founder and overseer of Sanctuary International Fellowship Tabernacle - SIFT and Chancellor of Apostolic University. Dr. Marino has over twenty-five years of experience in ministry, leadership, counseling, mentoring, education, and business. You can read more about the author here.

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