You remember the math problems you were given as a kid? They were supposed to help you learn how you’d use math in the real world. So they’d give you “real” problems like:

  • You have 12 apples, 16 bananas, and 8 grapefruit. How many pieces of fruit do you have?

This is not a real like situation. For starters, I don’t like grapefruit, so why would I have even one?

  • You have 14 oranges and you give 6 to Ralph. How many oranges do you have left?

The answer is 14, because I’m not sharing my oranges with Ralph.

You can see why I was lousy at math and why I married an accountant. I know, I know, the textbook answer is that I would have seven, no, eight oranges left. But in real-world math, most of us would still have 14 oranges. We don’t like to share.

Let me rephrase that. Most of us are willing to share out of our leftovers and any abundance we don’t need, but giving things away doesn’t come naturally. And simple math teaches us another truth: when we give things away, WE HAVE LESS. The world teaches us more is better.

Biblical math gives us a different answer. It’s not the new math parents are bemoaning these days; in fact, what Scripture provides is very old math.

“Give, and it will be given to you; a good measure ​— ​pressed down, shaken together, and running over ​— ​will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38).

“The point is this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Cor. 9:6).

These verses were not given so that televangelists could guilt us into buying them an airplane; God revealed these truths so that we would see the personal benefit and joy that comes when we give for the sake of others. When we give for the benefit of someone else, God will give back. He takes care of His children who trust in Him.

There was a period in the 80s and 90s when videotapes were everywhere. Long before Redbox, everybody had their own little kiosk to sell or rent videotapes. Even gas stations that hadn’t cleaned their restrooms since the Nixon Administration had a rack of VHS tapes to buy or rent.

Notice I said VHS tapes. VHS tapes were everywhere, which made sense since everybody had a VHS player. But I had one friend who had a Sony Betamax—and he loved it.

Anybody remember Sony Betamax? The tapes were better, the machines were better, and the image was better. Everything about them was better quality, but Betamax died off. Why?

Sony knew they had a better product and they held tightly to it. On the other hand, JVC, the creator of the VHS tape, licensed its technology to any interested company. With some companies using the VHS platform, competing sales drove the prices lower and lower. VHS quickly took the lead. JVC profited greatly by sharing their technology.

There’s a lesson there for businesses, but there’s an even greater lesser for the follower of Christ: We all gain when we willingly share with others. And from a kingdom perspective, that’s critical. I don’t want my motivation in giving to be “what can I get out of this?” My motivation should be to honor Christ and help others, but the principle still remains: God gives back to us as we give.

Don’t just view giving solely as a monetary matter.

  • Invest time in talking to someone about faith in Christ, and he benefits from the message. You benefit from the incredible joy that comes with being used by God.
  • Give up the adult class you attend on Sundays and work with the kids. The kids benefit from your wisdom, your interest in them, and your Christ-like example. You gain the joy and may find yourself building some new relationships!

Don’t be a Betamax Christian. Step up and give yourself away. And if Ralph needs six oranges, give him the oranges.

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