By Pardon Mwansa, Associate Director, General Conference Stewardshipl

Summary: When I began to grow in His grace, God planted in my heart a desire to give.

So immersed was Mary in her Savior’s love that she one day did something very irrational. That was the day she made the biggest cash withdrawal in all her life (a whole year’s wages), and spent it all on a bottle of perfume (Luke 7). What made her do something so foolish? Was the extravagant gift a means to be saved? Or was the gift an expression of her joy in being saved? Mary’s understanding of the love of God and her experience of salvation gave birth to a life of gratitude. And her gift was an expression of this new life.

Giving was foreign to me before I experienced salvation in Christ. Whether it was to the church or to a poor man on the street, giving was something I just I could not afford to do--How could I give when I did not have enough to meet my own needs? But when I began to understand God’s unconditional love, when I accepted His forgiveness, when I saw a better lifestyle in His Word, when I began to grow in His grace, something happened: God planted in my heart a desire to give. I found myself setting aside tithe and offering; helping others in spite of my meager salary; and giving without feeling deprived of necessities. You see, I had experienced the grace of giving. Giving was now an act of joy. I could never have giving like this on my own; only God could give birth to such a joyous attitude in my life.

In an attempt to share the joy of salvation, one Christmas my family, impressed by the Holy Spirit, mailed copies of the book Steps to Christ and Bible Studies for the Home to all the high school principals in Zambia. That was two books each, to 350 people we did not know. Six months later, we received two positive responses. One wanted to know where he could find the book quoted so many times in the material we had sent him (He was referring to the Bible). Another said that was one of the best gifts he had ever received.

Consider my family’s experience: On the surface, it seems like the two responses were not worth the time and money spent on 700 books. But because the books were given under the influence of God’s infinite grace, the joy of two certainly outweighed the human effort put into the giving.

Paul encourages believers to excel in the grace of giving. He says But just as you excel in everything--in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us--see that you also excel in this grace of giving (2 Cor. 8:7). Oh the joy of giving in response to God’s greatest gift of grace--our Savior, Jesus Christ!