One thing that has bothered me for a long time is hearing people say "I can't afford to give." even knowing that the Bible instructs us to give sacrificially. Sacrifice is defined as: "the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim."
Giving as the Bible teaches is not simply tithing, it is giving when you can't really afford to give. It is giving beyond the tithe. We are told to be a "living sacrifice," yet we do not really stop to consider what that means.
Romans 12:1 "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."
It isn't a sacrifice when we only give what is convenient, or what fits into our budget. In other words, what makes us comfortable! Since when was sacrifice comfortable? Why do we worry about what we can afford when our Father owns it all anyway? We can never out-give God! I'm far from perfect in anything I do, but I can testify to the fact that when I give beyond what I can afford, God honors that and takes care of me and my needs. That giving may take the form of money, goods, time - it doesn't matter, and it never should matter - when we become a living sacrifice that means every portion of our life is give over to Him.
At times, we really want to make that sacrifice, yet our faith fails us when it comes to committing to spending time, or taking out that money you had planned to use for something else and putting it into the plate. It is our flesh, our "old man" that battles against us - whispering in our mind that we just need to say "No." He tells us that someone else who can better afford to give can take care of that need.
As a result, our churches fail for lack of funds and workers. Jesus called all of us to give - Sacrificially! Look at the needs in your church, or in the people around you, and see what you can do to help. How can you spread the Gospel, ease the suffering, further the ministry, show the love of Christ to a lost and dying world.
I've heard it said before, "If someone came to your home and accused you of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?" How you spend your time and money says a lot to the unsaved around you. And they are watching and judging to see if Christianity is real. One of the ways that they are often convinced if when the Body of Christ shows them kindness and love - unwarranted and unearned.
Are you a living sacrifice? Do you give until it hurts, or do you prefer to hang onto the earthly treasures that you will one day leave behind? Do you treasure "your time" on this earth and prefer to spend it to pleasure yourself, or do you give generously of it - investing the hours you are given by God here into the eternity you will spend with Him? The next time an opportunity to give arises, ask yourself this question - How can I afford to not give?
2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you fail to meet the test!