Have you ever had that happen to you? You’re doing your monthly budgeting and you come to the end and although you really would love to give to your local church, there’s honestly nothing left to give. Maybe you’re at the point of breaking even, or maybe you are so far behind in bills, it’s not even funny.
I remember sitting there in the homeless shelter 4 years ago. I didn’t have an income. There literally wasn’t anything to give, because I didn’t have anything. I escaped a very physically abusive situation and got out with just what I could fit in the car, which I mostly grabbed things for the kids. I had literally nothing. I had been a stay-at-home-mom all of my kids lives. I didn’t have income, no job, nothing. At the time, my husband took my debit card, and my gas tank was on empty. I literally had to borrow $20 from a stranger just to get out of the abuse. So, I definitely know what it’s like to have nothing. At the time, I had no church family, my mom was far away and was not in a position to help. I was all alone with two babies at my side.
And now, today, even living on what the world considers a poverty level, I feel I am rich. I have more than most people who make several times over what I do. I don’t struggle for ends meet; I pay cash for everything I buy. I have no debt; I am free. I have money in savings. I have a lot. I have church family. I live a very fulfilled life; I am truly blessed.
So, how did I get from point A to point B?
One Bible verse passage…Matthew 25:14-30
Parable of the Talents
“For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
“Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
“Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
“And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’
“But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’
“For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Early on in my Christianity, I learned how to give when you have nothing to give. Giving is something that you do.
If you look up the word ‘give’ in the dictionary, there is not one place in there, that says money. That’s key. You can be a giving person without money. In fact, you don’t even need money to give. Giving is a heart attitude. It is sometimes expressed through money, but a heart attitude has no monetary value. There are simple and creative ways to give back by giving of your time, you can give of your talents, you can give of your resources, etc.
So, while in that homeless shelter, rather than give money to a church I didn’t belong to (long story), I donated my time. I would make dinner for the other women in the shelter. I would clean the bathroom, not a fun job I will fully admit, but it was a way I could give. When someone needs a ride to a place that is 2 hours away, I give of my time and gas and do not accept a payment in return. When someone is sick, I give them oils. When someone is hurting, I give of my time, listening and genuinely caring about their situation. Each Christmas, I give money to people in need. I will get a free Turkey using coupons, and find someone in our congregation to give it to for Thanksgiving. There are so many opportunities to give that do not require money. Everyone I come in contact with, I try to help in some way or another. In all honesty, the ones that I can’t help in some way, it frustrates me. Like, I WANT to give. I WANT to help.
It’s simple, give of your time.
Then, when you have money to give, give it freely. If you only have $10 that week to give, don’t tell yourself, well, it’s not enough. It’s not worth the hassle, I might need it next week. No, give it. Give what you can, and watch God bless it and grow it. Malachi 3:10 promises He will. And as you can see by the passage above in Matthew, if you give what you can give, and you are honorable in what He has given you, He will give you more. As my income increased, so has my giving monetarily, but I still do not negate my giving of my time as well.
You see, that’s the secret!
The more you spend your money, WHATEVER it is God’s given you, whether it be 5¢ or $10,000, He will bless you with more and more and more and more AS you spend wisely what He gives. I found this to be true in my own life when I was first learning how to spend my money wisely, and God has always used it as something to get my attention. When I am prospering, I am on God’s track, when I don’t seem to be following His path, He allows me to suffer financially. It has become for me personally, a training rod.
The more God blesses, the more I obediently and reverently spend wisely. I don’t care if I have $5,000 in my savings account, I am NOT going to buy that thing that I want that is not a need. Why? Because I make myself EARN it. When I have to earn the money for the thing that I want, the thing that I want really gets put to the test. Is it REALLY worth all that to get? Sometimes not. Sometimes it is, but I work hard to get the things I want. I don’t just spend willy-nilly. I am incredibly cautious.
There’s one more piece of the puzzle.
The title of this article was chosen very carefully. You see, it says “how to give when you have nothing left to give.” The word I’d like you to notice in that title is ‘left.’ Listen, I’ll be frank, if you are giving to God last, giving Him the leftovers, you can never expect Him to give you anything more than what you give Him. He’s not the kind of God (and there’s only one God, let me be clear) that will just settle for and take the last bits of what you have left over and be satisfied with your offering. No. That’s what Cain did, remember. Cain brought the worst choice, the leftovers. Abel brought the first fruits. The top of the line best you can do.
So, when you’re making that budget, be sure to take God’s cut out first. Start with a small amount if you have to, but always pay Him first. Don’t worry about giving 10%. If we compare the Bible to now, we give more like 23%. You see, in the Bible days, the 10% was given to cover everything, because the church was the government. That 10% included taxes and everything else. If we count our taxes, government costs, church tithes now, it comes out to be 23.3%. So, don’t worry about giving 10% if you don’t have it. To some, 10% may be selfish and greedy as they have more to give, yet to others 10% is incredibly above their means and could send them into financial ruin. Just give what you can, according to what YOU are convicted in your conscience to give. Nothing more, but certainly nothing less.