Christian Living
Five Characteristics of Heart Giving
Jun 4, 2015

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In Luke 21:1-4, Jesus tells a beautiful story of a poor widow's offering. This story encapsulates what it means to live generously, for she did not give out of her abundance; she sacrificed and gave all she had to live on two copper coins and in her poverty, lived generously.

Read more about the story of the widow's offering in today's My Devotional.


When we think of generosity, we often think of giving money freely, randomly, exuberantly, and at no real cost to our livelihood. Many are paralyzed by this definition, using it as an excuse to hold tightly to their finances until they can "afford" to give. Yet, living generously is not solely about money. First and foremost, it is about the heart.

There are many people today who give lots of money, yet do not live generously. They are stingy with their time, their resources, and even their gratitude. However, those who live generously are preoccupied with questions like, "How does God want to use me?" and, "Where is God leading me?"

The widow in Luke 21 didn't just give her part she gave her "only." Her beauty of soul led her to sacrifice and give the smallest yet greatest offering that day. Through her story, we see the definition of "heart giving" giving not just based on quantity, but on quality. 

First, heart giving is what matters to God. Tax collectors do not care if you are angry or happy about paying taxes; they only care that you pay our dues. Unlike the tax collector, God is more interested in the attitude of our hearts as we give (2 Corinthians 9:7).

Second, heart giving is sacrificial. When giving to God, we must challenge ourselves with the question, "What have I given up in my giving? What have I gone without in my giving?" God is not impressed with all our evangelical talk if we remain unwilling to sacrifice anything for Him. He is searching for the heart that is completely committed to Him.

"God does not need or want our money; He already owns everything. What He wants is us our wholehearted devotion and trust in Him."

Giving that pleases God costs us something. It is not the sacrifice itself that pleases God, but the position of surrender and trust we demonstrate that pleases Him.

Third, heart giving accomplishes much. Think of all the people throughout history who have been liberated to give because of the account of this widow's story in the Bible. Over time, Jesus has converted those two small coins into many souls saved, fed, healed, and encouraged. That return on investment can only be measured in heavenly terms.

Fourth, heart giving has its own reward. God will not neglect to eternally reward those who give from their heart. First Corinthians 3:11-14 says that on the last day, all of what we've done for Christ will be lit with a match. If what we've done on earth has been sacrificial, it will be like gold and burn brighter in the fire. If no sacrifices have been made, it'll be like hay on fire turning to ashes.

Fifth, heart giving is a great equalizer. There is no virtue in being poor and no virtue in being rich. These are simply circumstances. No one has any advantage over another. Is my giving of myself my time and my resources done willingly, joyfully, and sacrificially, or begrudgingly and regretfully? Is my giving done out of a sense of works-based duty or is it my genuine response to His love?

There is someone else who perfectly demonstrated these characteristics of generous living and that is Christ Jesus. At risk of his reputation, He spent His days ministering to sinners and tax collectors rather than making friends in high places (Matthew 9:10-12). When someone was sick, He reached out to heal them. As He was mocked, tortured, and betrayed, He forgave (Luke 23:34). And while we were still sinners, completely undeserving of his grace and love, He died for us (Romans 5:8).

Jesus' life demonstrated the heart of generous living. He sacrificed His life so that we could have life to the full and now He sits at the right hand of the Father, receiving eternal worship for what He did on the Cross.

God does not need or want our money; He already owns everything. What He wants is us our wholehearted devotion and trust in Him. He wants us to love Him and to love others with the same kind of love that Jesus demonstrated during His earthly life. That is the kind of worship He desires generous living in response to His generous love.