Prancing Around the Red Kettle Doesn’t Count

It’s that time of the year again. When you go to any store and quickly see (and hear) bell ringers shaking away to collect donations on behalf of the Salvation Army.

Charitable giving always sees an uptick around the holidays. Perhaps people feel more generous and giving. Perhaps they’re trying to squeeze in a last-minute tax deduction. For others, it’s a combination of the two. Which leads me to ask, what kind of giver are you?

  1. Do you eagerly dig around your wallet in anticipation to give?
  2. Do you give reluctantly or out of obligation?
  3. Or maybe you artfully dodge the bell ringer and avoid making eye contact? (Who hasn’t been that person?!)

I’m not saying you have to be exclusively one or the other, but which tendencies do you lean towards?

If I’m being honest with myself (and you), I relate to #2 more often than I’d like to admit.

By human nature, we aren’t generous creatures. Don’t believe me? Ask any two year old to share their toys. We parents may insist (read: force) them to share their toys, but their heart attitude is not one of willingness. How many of us can relate to that feeling?

We give our money, our time, and any other resource we can offer but sometimes it’s with a clutched grip. We secretly want something in return. We downright expect it! And when it doesn’t happen, our heart gets a little bit colder, a little bit more jaded.

What kind of giving is that?

Jesus was very clear in 2 Cor. 9:7, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Some further context appears in Luke 6:34, “And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.”

Not only are we called to have a good attitude about giving, but we also aren’t to expect repayment in return? What kind of economy of this?!

God has always desired for our hearts over our behavior (hello legalism!) and part of giving cheerfully without expecting repayment truly measures our motives. If I give to you in my “generosity” and expect repayment, I’m really doing it as a way to pat myself on the back. (Tangent: If you’re a mortgage lender, this isn’t a jab at you. Keep up the good work!)

This is so countercultural yet as Christians, this is also the standard by which we’re called to live.

So How Does It Look Like In Actual Life?

  • Do you ever do something reluctantly or under obligation?
  • Do you watch a chick flick with your wife because you want a little something something in return?
  • When you volunteer your time for someone or something, do you look more towards the payoff or the actual deed?
  • Do you give something to a friend and fully expect something of equal value in return? If it doesn’t happen, do you cut off your giving? Or at least until the giving is reciprocated?
  • When you let your husband go hang out with his friends, are you banking on this to cash out for later use?
  • Does your giving have restrictions or parameters?
  • What is the attitude of your heart when you give?

These are all rhetorical in a sense, but you can answer for yourself and let that be an indicator of the state of your heart. I want to challenge us this season (and for the rest of our lives, frankly) to give joyfully, willingly and motivated to serve someone else.

Joyful giving happens internally, the results are evident externally.

**Super important: If all you do is give and someone else only takes, then the relationship is likely abusive and it’s probably wise that you cut ties.





  1. I love this post!! Especially the scripture that references giving out of what is decided in our heart. What a powerful scripture verse. It brings new meaning to following your heart. I can’t help but ask myself “what has God placed there for me to follow and feel fulfilled?” Giving implies lack, but I get the sense that giving in the right way yields spiritual returns of fullness and love. When it comes to giving and giving generously, there’s a lot to be said about the place at which the giving occurs. On the receiving end, some of the best gifts I’ve received of someone’s time, energy and words have been such a blessing because of the absence of expectation of anything in return. Thanks for this Cam!

    1. Carlyn,

      What a great follow-up and expansion on what was said! I love how some of the best gifts you’ve received were in the absence of expectation of anything in return- it’s truly so freeing and lets you enjoy the gift in fullness. Thanks for reading!