Why is giving such a focus in the Christian faith?
Giving is sometimes emphasized in Christian churches for the wrong reasons—leaders tell their congregations to give so that they will be blessed, when really their motive is to acquire wealth at the expense of the people. This is a wrong approach to the biblical model of giving. The Bible does say "Give, and it will be given to you" and "with the measure you use it will be measured back to you" (Luke 6:38). God promises to provide abundantly, both in terms of material things and spiritual things, when we are generous.
Generosity is an attribute of God. As the Creator God, He has an abundance of resources that never runs out (John 10:10; James 1:5; Psalm 103:8; Isaiah 55:1–7; 2 Corinthians 9:8; Romans 5:20) and He loves to give. He even gave His own Son, Jesus Christ, to save people from their sins and give eternal life to all who will accept Him (John 3:16–17). As Christians grow nearer to God, and understand His character more and more, we become more like Him. This process is called sanctification, and is also a work of God (Hebrews 10:10, 14). Like children, we imitate our Heavenly Father (Ephesians 5:1). He is generous, so we become generous too. Giving should be a joy, and for that reason, God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7).
It is often difficult to give. A reluctance to give is usually caused by fear—fear that we will not have enough time, money, food, etc. for ourselves. But when we trust God (Proverbs 3:5–6), giving becomes easier. And as we see Him consistently take care of us, it increases our faith. Seeing God at work is exciting and reinforces our belief. But if we always try to take care of ourselves, we miss the blessing of seeing Him take care of us. Giving is a good habit to get into, because it helps break the cycle of self-dependence which hinders faith.
That said, giving should be done wisely. God gave us minds which can analyze, and intuition which can sense when something is a "bad deal." Giving should not cause strain, but joy. And giving should result in more for everyone—there is nothing righteous about sending money into a sinkhole, or padding the pockets of a charlatan.
By giving wisely and cheerfully to all who have need, believers make a statement to those around them. We are depending on God for everything we need, because we know he is faithful to provide (1 Kings 17:8–16). We are not trusting in money or possessions for happiness, because there is something beyond this world that is better, that we are looking forward to. "I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread" (Psalm 37:25).
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