For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have. –2 Corinthians 8:12

Many people see tithing as a requirement – the “Christian thing to do.” Paul, however, begins with “if the willingness is there . . .” and not “this must be done.” Mark 12:41-44 relates the story of the widow’s offering. Even though she gave a small amount, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.” Jesus’ emphasis on the widow’s willingness to give all she had despite her poverty indicates to us it was the desire of the widow to give, not the amount of the gift that is important to God. In Acts 5, a man named Ananias had much more to give financially, but withheld part to keep for himself. He was not judged on his gift, but rather on the deceit in his heart. As Christians, we should model the willingness in our hearts to share what God has so generously given to us.

Asking God for “extra” money to share bypasses the point of willingness. Our prayer, rather, should center on the words of David in Psalm 51, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love. . . . Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:1,10)

A pure heart and steadfast spirit will lead to the willingness to give, without the worry of how much.

Used with permission from Sunshine Community Church, Grand Rapids, MI and The Barnabas Foundation.