Life is always shallow until you finally see
That living for yourself will never make you free
from the song “Look All Around You” by John Fischer
You don’t give to get. You give to give. Period. There are trends in some Christian circles about giving for what you will get back. That is not this. That is trying to manipulate God, which, of course, you can’t do. This is as far from getting as you can get. It’s not about getting. It’s about giving.
Being a giver is the kind of person you are. You don’t end here; you begin here. You don’t give because you won the lottery; you give because you are a giver. Poor people give. They give because it’s their nature. Others give because their joy and their love of God are bound up in the giving.
Paul told us to “give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). You decided in your heart to give, he said. It comes out of you. It’s not because you have been coerced, or put upon by some outside force which would make you give; it’s because it is in your heart to give. Giving springs from inside you.
In his touching little book, The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein tells the story of a tree that loves a boy who plays in its branches and rests in its shade. But when the boy grows up, he needs the branches of the tree to build a house, and the tree is happy to give the boy his branches. Then the boy wants to travel and the tree is happy to give up his trunk so he can build a boat. And finally when the boy is old and tired, he comes back to the tree which is now an old stump and the tree is eager to offer itself as a place for the boy to sit and rest, which he does, and the tree is happy once again. The tree’s happiness was bound up in the boy. As long as he was happy, the tree was happy. For the tree, it was all about the boy.
When you observe this story carefully, you realize that the tree was happier than the boy. The boy kept using the tree to try to find happiness, but the tree found that true happiness was in the giving, and though he gave up everything, in the end, he was the happier one.
Actually, Paul does speak about what we get back when we give; he said God will “enlarge the harvest of your righteousness” (9:10), and that our generosity “will result in thanksgiving to God” (9:11).
As Jesus said, it is better to give than to get.