Why You SHOULD Think of Yourself When You Give

I was a little surprised. No push-back from last week’s post on giving? Maybe it wasn’t as counter-intuitive to you as it has been to me.

In my reforming perfectionistic brain, there used to be 2 main rules for giving (my time, my money, my talents, my heart):

  • You should never expect anything in return.
  • You should never think about yourself. That’s selfish.

Those bad beliefs have been challenged in my life, and I invite you to process the challenge with me.

As I said last week, I believe we should expect to receive something in return, and I think we should absolutely think of ourselves when we give. As I said last week, we need new terms for thinking this way. From here on out, I’m going to switch to the vocabulary I used last week. When we give, we might not think of ourselves, but when we invest, we should be looking to how we’re affected.

Here’s why thinking of ourselves when we invest is crucial:

We should ruthlessly seek the good work being done within us. In the comments you left over the last few weeks, I’ve read a few with a longing to have your evident spiritual gift. For some of you, giving is like breathing. You can’t do life without it, and it’s part of your divinely given DNA. Giving is your gift.

I wish giving was my gift, but it’s not. Giving is a challenge for me. I lean toward selfishness and comfort, and I have to fight against those negative forces every time I do something for someone else. It’s an ugly part of me to share, but I’m just keepin’ it real.

When I give, I have to ask God to reveal my motives with His spotlight of righteousness. Am I investing with eternal purposes in mind, or do I have a hidden selfish motive? Am I doing truly investing for another, or do I have a secret motive for gain?

Investing always stretches me in the best possible way.

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How can we know our motives are pure so that God’s purifying work can be accomplished in our investing? It must be done from love.

“If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” I Corinthians 13:3 (NIV)

Too often I’ve given so that I can boast. Sadly, that’s an investment with a negative return. I become more entrenched in self when I give this way, but love means that I gain God’s refining work in me. Let’s invest in love with an eye to gaining more of the fruits of the Spirit like thankfulness (Psalm 106:1) and to earning the blessing of more Jesus in us (Acts 20:35).

We should choose to be nothing, but we shouldn’t see ourselves as nothing. In Philippians 2:5-11, we read that Jesus chose a position of humility. He “made himself nothing”. He gives us a high example to follow in His humility. As I say in Breaking Up with Perfect,

“Rather than trading on His rightful position, Jesus intentionally gave up the perfection of heaven and chose a new position. ‘He made himself nothing.’ He isn’t nothing, but He chose to become nothing. Although He holds power and authority and is due respect, He elected to abdicate the rights and benefits of His high status by giving up the privileges He rightfully holds with His rank. Giving up perfection, He accepted an assignment in a flawed, broken, sinful world as a servant.” (p. 63)

It’s good to choose to become nothing because that reflects Christ-like humility. It’s not good to believe you are nothing.

Even though there were only the sounds of crickets chirping after my post last week, I’m sure that many of you have bought into the two bad beliefs I confessed at the start of this post. I heard it in the comments in the devotion and blog post I wrote several weeks ago, and some of your comments broke my heart in two.

I heard the echoes of what you believe about yourself in what you wrote. You. Don’t. Count. I want to set the record firmly in place on that belief. You, dearest one, do count. You matter.

There’s an equation that God the Father established in the Old Testament that Jesus the Son repeats in the New. When a man who wanted to test Jesus approached Him with a question, here’s how it went down:

 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22: 36-40)

There’s an equation here with three parts:

Love God + Love others + as yourself= Greatest commandments

You are not a zero sum in the equation. Jesus put you there.

Perfectionists often get this wrong. We’ve stripped ourselves out of the equation for so long that we become convinced that we don’t count–To Jesus. To anybody else.

I love how some genius used one of my all-time favorite words, JOY, to make an acronym.

J-Jesus
O-Others
Y-You

Here’s the thing. Too many of us are only experiencing JO instead of JOY. See the problem? 🙂 Here are some questions to discern whether you’re leaving yourself out of the investment equation in a negative way:

  • Is it wearing you out and leaving you empty instead of building you up and making you filled?
  • Are others appreciative of what you give? I’m not talking about expecting gratefulness everyday or every time, but God cares about you. In asking you to invest, He’s not asking you to be prey for takers. That’s enabling, not investing. If you suspect that you’ve taken on the roll of enabling, put “you” back into the joy equation and see how the investing feels then.
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Comments

  1. Leslie says

    Amy, Your words about the equation are really good. I don’t know why it is so hard to see the “as yourself” part, but it is! This post reminds me again how much I am loved and what a good feeling it is that God WANTS me in that equation. We are so precious to Him! Your post was a reminder of that. Thank you!

    Leslie

  2. A Fellow AC says

    As someone who also is at war with their perfectionism, I identify with the desire to remove myself from the equation. Upon realizing the enormity of selfishness rooted in my life (and yet I don’t even fully comprehend its depth), I began a quest to try and uproot it. Often times that quest is started each day without going to the Lord for strength or wisdom, leaving the quest that began as something seemingly valiant as an empty shell and an idol in my life. I have been pursuing wisdom & sufficiency apart from God, rather than seeking Him; the source of wisdom and the truest example of altruism. The fact that my path to remove selfishness has been done with its own roots of rebelliousness and selfishness is almost overwhelming. But there is grace for me. With me in the equation, God can use someone seemingly unusable to reveal his glory, which puts his righteousness on display. He uses me despite me! Your post has challenged me to look at the foundation of my quest, and to give myself unto the Lord expectantly. Thank you, Amy, for your vulnerability in your post, and your constant desire to be put in His “spotlight of righteousness.” What an encouraging word!

  3. Ev Mark Kuyatto says

    Praise God.That Gospel you posted on giving was very explosive.You know I had to take a fire Insurance .Godly giving is a characteristic of practical kingdom living.It takes to know and love God for a serious christian to give.And, it’s not the amount we give that matters most to the Almighty, but the sacrifice that we make.In other words, giving is direct proportional to the sacrifice we leave behind. Incredible ! My prayer to God is to make me a cheerful giver everyday.I’m challenged by the Gospel indeed ! God bless you.

  4. Amanda says

    I have been struggling in the area of included myself in the equation of life. I have lived as if I am supposed to always put others first & I constantly question the selfishness of decisions that seem right for me but are not what others want or think will benefit them. Your words today provide some affirmation of things God has already been dealing with me about – not just in the area of giving. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Corena says

    Called to serve I have been taken advantage of. It’s interesting to me how God works. I needed to reevaluate my giving so it is for His glory His good and how He wants to use me not how this world wants to. This is Him talking to me because it has been an issue I am dealing with right now. Feeling empty and used made me realize that my serving was not of Him and/or for Him. In prayer I will choose wisely my call is to be His servant.

  6. Dorce says

    When I give I don’t expect to get anything back,I do get back the Love that Jesus shows me in my heart. I do only give when I feel the pull from God to give, so he gives back. Now if I loan I never give what I cannot afford to not get back that way if they can’t pay back I don’t get a resentment from it. I have been an enableler before so I do have to be careful to not do so again.
    I am having trouble with wanting a job that God did not give me

  7. Julie says

    I have a heart for giving, yet I struggle with selfishness of my time. I have to check my motives when I give. Is it out of obligation, guilt, or love? Oftentimes it is something that I’m obligated to do, but I remind myself while I am doing whatever it is, that it is worth it. I am doing things because I do love the people I am doing them for. I am an introvert and enjoy being by myself, so it is a challenge for me to give my time. I have to push myself and remind myself that people are more important than me staying in my comfort zone. It definitely is worth the investment. I am always blessed when I sacrifice my time for others. And God continues to supply my own needs when I am obedient to serve.

  8. Michelle Ralston says

    Thank you for the visual on the equation. I struggle with feeling like I don’t matter and I’m not worthy. But this is something I can look at to remind myself and get back on track!

  9. Anne Lewis says

    Amy, thank you for the post. I missed last week’s so I went back and read it. Over time I felt God instructing me to be wise about giving. To donate to organizations that try to change the lives of the homeless and hurting through Jesus rather than enabling them through cash given individually. I just read of an organized group that appear on street corners begging with their children and are later seen driving away in new cars. So many truly need help but we must be wise and give to organizations that successfully help them. Samaritan’s Purse and Miracles Hill are two excellent organizations that change lives.

  10. Monica Dunlap says

    Dear Amy,
    Giving has always been a joy for me. My parents were the kind that taught giving from the heart & we learned that sometimes the giving only needs to be kindness to a person. Jesus’ gifts of love & caring, the healing He perfomed were awesome! Let us treat each other with kindness & respect that we should, give the love Jesus told us too.

  11. Christy says

    Hello Amy,
    I struggle with giving money! Not overall, but when asked to give AFTER our family has set a budget that we NEED to stick to. It’s that season of the year AND my in-laws birthday is in January. A milestone bday. Three different households are involved in the planning but only ONE seems to have a limit to their budget: mine! I feel frustrated being asked to give well over what we as a family budgeted to give AND I feel my husband may be “embarrassed” or torn or something as it relates to telling these people we are not giving as much as they are asking for.

    At the end of they day I don’t know if I’m being selfish or responsible??!!

    Help a sista out!! ?

  12. Brenda says

    Here close to Thanksgiving & Christmas I always feel that I am giving & giving & giving but am I giving as to the Lord? Seems I feel I’m giving to family & charities that are so in need but feel I don’t DO enough. I know “doing” isn’t what giving & love for others is all about but the doubts creep in as I give. Thank you for insight.

  13. Laura Juneau says

    Amy, your thoughts here are wonderful! I love the The Truth that God is strengthening me in godly ways as I invest in giving! I give out of love but many times I wonder if I’m looking for approval from God, but now I can see it from His perspective, that hopefully I can be called a good and faithful servant as He continues to do a good work in me. And JOY is my favorite word also, but wow…love your deep dimension of this special word!
    Thank you Amy! Blessings and Joy to you!

  14. Theresa says

    This is something that I struggle with all the time. I do not want to be an enabler anymore. Trying to break the cycle. It is hard, but I take comfort in knowing I am not alone. I am going to strive for JOY in my life.

  15. Jessica says

    This was a huge eye opener for me. I never really got the “as yourselves ” part. If I don’t love and care for myself how can I have anything to give to others. I’ve always thought of it as doing for others while completely neglecting myself or thinking I’m nothing and don’t matter. But I get it now! Thank you so much! Not sure this makes sense. I’m so excited by this revelation that I’m having trouble putting it all in words?

  16. Michele says

    Amy, I am rethinking the words investment and giving. In any investment there should be a return. To think of how you spend your 24 hours striving to spiritually invest the hours given it is wise to think “what is going to be the return if I do this” One area of my life that I am struggling with is my layback time and what I watch on TV. I know, it seems so simple but for me I have been one of those “Real Housewives” watchers. God has pricked my heart and asked is this a good investment of your time? What are you getting back in return? This is just one example that God is working in my life. Thank you for sharing. You always are encouraging.

  17. Vicki C says

    I’ve been so very busy with a new job, trying to help out my older kids, while still trying to be a good mom to my youngest. I have been wearing myself out! I’ve been praying and doing my best to keep going, but I’m pretty drained emotionally, physically, mentally … And, despite what I had thought spiritually as well …

    Thank you fur reminding me that I can help without enabling, that giving of myself doesn’t have to mean giving myself until I’m depleted! I am part of the equation, and I’m deserving of love!

    Please pray for peace for myself and my family. Praying LOVE for all!!

    • Patricia Coombs says

      Amy you touched my heart this morning. I live in a house with girls struggling with addiction and are presently acting out. What you said left me with a peace only God can give. He loves them and will equip me with patience to scatter kindness. It is so wonderful to love with a Bold Love. I have learned from you to love more not less

  18. Holly says

    Good morning Amy. I also unfortunately have a hard time giving. In some situations it is easy and comes naturally. In others it feels like pulling teeth. Sometimes I feel I don’t hear God right so I don’t follow through with what he tells me. I think spending more time with him and in his word can make this easier. At home it is easier to give because I love to serve my family. I feel like it’s my God given duty as a wife and mother. When it comes to other circumstances I am always unsure. Thank you for sharing.