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The Hardest Thing To Give Might Also Be The Most Important

By Andrea Lucado


It might be the thing we hold most dear. What is worth the most in our lives. What we are most reluctant to give, and when we do, it’s because we really care about who or what we are giving it to.


I’m not talking about money. I’m talking about time.


In some ways, it can be easier to give money than it is to give our time. Think about it. When a natural disaster strikes, you can easily donate your money to a relief organization online with the click of a button, but you cannot so easily donate a weekend to traveling and serving the affected community. That would require time.


In our churches, it is simpler to place a check in the basket than it is to sign up to teach Sunday school once a month. When we have a neighbor who is sick, it is more convenient to donate to the fundraiser to cover his medical bills than it is to visit him in the hospital.


Giving money is not wrong. It is good to donate to relief efforts, to tithe, and to help a neighbor with his hospital bill if you are able, but we sometimes use money to avoid giving someone what they really need: our time.


Mary exemplifies this in scripture. When Jesus came to her and her sister Martha’s home, she “sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said” (Luke 10:39). Martha did the opposite. She was in the other room “distracted by all the preparations that had to be made” (Luke 10:40).


When Martha questioned Jesus about her sister’s behavior, Jesus said, “You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42).


Martha was giving her resources to Jesus. Mary was giving him her time. Her undivided attention. She sat at his feet. It looked like she wasn’t doing much, but Jesus said she was doing the only thing that was needed.


Jesus modeled this in his own life. He spent his entire three-year ministry with twelve disciples. Teaching them, being with them, traveling with them. He stayed at the home of an unpopular tax collector named Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-6). He spent time with a Samaritan woman most Jewish men would never have conversed with in public (John 4:1-26).


Some circumstances call for giving money. Some circumstances call for giving time. We can discern what’s needed.


It usually feels like there isn’t enough time. It seems that there are not enough hours in the day to tend to our own needs, much less someone else’s. In Christ, we don’t have to live as if we must hoard our resources. In him, there is always an abundance (2 Corinthians 9:8). This does not mean we are to give every last penny we own, or that we are to run ourselves ragged by giving our time to everyone we know. Rather, this truth is meant to free us from the fear of lack. That fear that holds us back from giving, when really, through the grace of God, we have enough to give.


What or who needs your time more than your money right now? Before you write the check or enter your credit card information, think about how you could offer up your time. It is precious. It is hard to let go of. For this reason alone, perhaps we should surrender it more often.


If you are interested in learning more about Jesus and his ministry, we have several resources available, including our study Jesus: His Sufferings and Glory. Learn more here.