The Virtue of Giving

”In all this I have given you an example that by such work we must support the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, for he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35)

I recently came across a quotation by David Starr Jordan, founding President of Stanford University: "Wisdom is knowing what to do next; Skill is knowing how to do it, and Virtue is doing it." It caused me to think about how this applies to generosity."

Knowing That I Should Give: God calls us all to worship God and support the church. Stewardship is faithful management of all God gives us so that God can use our gifts to transform us spiritually and extend Christ’s transforming love to others. We are told in Scripture that “God loves a cheerful giver” and that “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Knowing How to Determine What I Should Give: Scripture informs us to love God and love others. Thus, we should divide our giving between the two. The amount to give to God through the church is the tithe, ten percent of our income. In order to reach the tithe, we should prayerfully consider what proportion of income to give, then strive to increase toward the goal of tithing, usually by about one percent  of income per year. Although some of our tithe will go to the needy, we should consider another proportion of income to give to those in need.

The Virtue of Giving: The real issue is not whether we give 10%, but what we will do with the entire 100%. John Wesley believed in the spiritual discipline summed up as “earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can.” Wesley believed that after earning money honestly and spending only what we need on our families and ourselves, we should give the rest away. Surely, using this approach, he would anticipate that our giving would be much more than the tithe of ten percent. His was.

Jim Wells, Wisconsin United Methodist Foundation