What are the common characteristics of givers?
Following are some traits commonly observed in those who have the motivational spiritual gift of giving. These traits can be used to benefit others, or they can be misused and thereby cause discord in the Body of Christ.
When a believer walks according to the Spirit (see Galatians 5:25), his unique perspective (in this case, giving) is demonstrated through traits that reflect the character of Christ. However, when a believer walks in “the flesh,” making choices that are determined by his sinful nature, his unique perspective is demonstrated through undesirable, ungodly traits. (See Galatians 5:16–17.)
Read these examples thoughtfully and prayerfully, and ask God to help you discern if your motivational gift is giving. If it is, be encouraged as you learn about the special virtue and wisdom that God has given you with this gift. Be warned of the temptation to misapply these Godly traits when you fail to walk in the grace God gives you to use them righteously. (See Hebrews 12:15.)
A giver has the ability to discern wise investments. He uses assets of time, money, and possessions to advance the work of the Lord. If a person with the gift of giving has limited funds, he is still able to use his ability to recognize available resources and draw upon them when needed.
Misuse of this trait: Hoards resources for self
The fear of the Lord is the key to using this gift effectively. One way we learn the fear of the Lord is by regular giving. The tithe was established to remind us of our dependence on God and our need to express gratitude to Him, our Provider. (See Deuteronomy 14:22–23.) If a giver loses his fear of God, he stops exercising his gift and his resources become stagnant.
Invests Self First, Then Gifts
A giver needs reassurance that his decisions are in God’s will, whether he has little or much to give. To achieve this, he will first give himself and then his gift to the Lord. Since all believers must practice giving, Paul explained how the Macedonians “first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God” (II Corinthians 8:5).
Misuse of this trait: Uses gifts to control people
A giver has a desire to make sure that his gifts are wisely invested and used. Thus, he often prefers to purchase and donate a quality item rather than give the money to make a purchase. However, he may be accused of using his gifts to control lives and ministries when he purchases items or sponsors specific projects.
Desires to Give High-Quality Gifts
A giver wants his gifts to last. His ability to discern value motivates him to provide quality gifts. Matthew, who demonstrated the gift of giving, described in greater detail than any other Gospel writer the gifts given to Christ. He is the only writer who mentioned “the treasures” brought by the Magi; he described Mary’s ointment as “very precious,” and he described Joseph’s tomb as “new.” (See Matthew 2:11, 26:6–13, and 27:57–60.)
Misuse of this trait: Forcing higher living standards
If a giver’s primary focus is on the quality of the gift rather than the need the gift is meeting, he can tempt the receiver to become dissatisfied with the quality of the other things he owns. A giver could also excuse personal luxuries on the basis that he is generous with his money. However, when he is not faithful in little, God will not trust him with much.
Hopes His Gift Answers Prayer
A giver who is in fellowship with the Lord will be prompted to give even when a need is not obvious. The ultimate confirmation that his gift was offered according to God’s will comes when he learns that it fulfilled an unknown need or answered a specific prayer.
Misuse of this trait: Feels guilty about personal assets
A giver who is not in fellowship with the Lord will begin to feel guilty as he stores up funds. Even if he is preparing for a special need, he must have the reassurance from the Lord that his plans are according to God’s will.
Desires to Give Secretly
Just as the giver looks to the Lord for direction, the giver wants recipients to look to the Lord for provision. The giver knows that future reward is more valuable than present praise; thus, he will give quietly and often give anonymously.
Misuse of this trait: Rejects pressure appeals
If a giver reacts to all appeals for funds and looks only for hidden or unannounced needs, he may fail to recognize the Lord’s direction. He may also miss an important opportunity to give wise counsel or needed funds to a worthy ministry.
Concerned That Giving Will Corrupt
A mature giver understands the destructiveness of the love of money. He is very aware that those who need his assistance may not yet have learned the disciplines that God taught him in acquiring assets. Therefore, he looks for ways to avoid encouraging dependency, slothfulness, or extravagance through his gifts.
Misuse of this trait: Gives too sparingly to family
The frugality of a giver is often extended to his own wife and children. However, if he does not show the same concern, care, and delight in meeting their needs as he does in meeting others’ needs, they will react to his generosity toward others. By listening to the Lord and the counsel of his wife, he will avoid the damaging consequences of unwise gifts or investments.
Exercises Personal Thriftiness
A giver’s personal assets are often the result of consistent personal frugality and contentment with the basics. He is concerned about getting the best buy, not with how much he will have left. He invests extra effort in saving money and being resourceful with what he has.
Misuse of this trait: Gives to projects vs. people
If a giver loses his focus of meeting the needs of people, he may be unduly attracted to projects. His desire for measuring value may prompt him to build a “memorial to his generosity.” The emphasis of Scriptural giving is that of distributing to the necessity of the saints. Paul’s collections were made for needy Christians.
Uses Gifts to Multiply Giving
The motivation of a giver is to encourage others to give. He wants them to experience the joy and spiritual growth that come by sacrificial giving. Thus, the giver may provide matching funds or the last payment in order to encourage others to give.
Misuse of this trait: Causes people to look to him vs. God
When a giver lets others know what he is giving, he can cause many to turn their attention from the Lord to him. He also risks the danger of attracting people with wrong motives. These people appeal to his human inclinations and extract gifts that are not directed by the Lord.
Confirms Amount With Counsel
A giver reacts negatively to pressure appeals. He prefers to look for financial needs that others have overlooked. A husband who has the gift of giving will often confirm the amount that he should give by seeing if his wife has the same amount in mind.
Misuse of this trait: Waits too long to give
If a giver is not instantly obedient to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, he may lose the joy of seeing God accomplish a miraculous provision through him. The one who was to receive the gift will also be denied the opportunity of seeing God provide funds precisely when needed.
Are You a Giver?
Do you recognize any of these positive characteristics or their misapplication as ones that you have demonstrated? Do the motivations of a giver guide your decisions and actions? If so, rejoice, because God has given you a unique responsibility in the Body of Christ!
If these characteristics, and their misuses, do not reflect your motivations, we encourage you to read and study similar information about each of the other six spiritual motivational gifts (prophecy, serving, teaching, exhorting, organizing, and mercy). Ask the Lord to reveal your spiritual gift to you. God will show you how He has gifted you. Be diligent!
As each of us identifies his or her motivational gift, he or she will be better equipped to achieve maximum fruitfulness with minimum weariness. As we exercise our gifts, we experience personal fulfillment and a deep sense of joy.
Russell Kelfer, in his excellent book titled Discovering Your Spiritual Gift, gives us an excellent word picture related to the motivational spiritual gifts assigned by God: “This isn’t a gift for you to put on the mantle like a trophy to admire. It is like a certain kind of glove that you put on that allows your hands to do the work of the ministry they were called to do. It is like a certain kind of spiritual shoes you wear to take you where you need to go” (Kelfer, page 10). Let’s put on those custom-designed gloves and shoes and get to work!