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By Debbie Wright | 21 June 2013 | Comments (5)

The Art of Giving - dregs

"But why do we get the old sofa and not the new one?" was the rather provocative question our vicar asked from the pulpit one Sunday morning.  A friend of mine, a vicar’s wife with small children also lamented the unwanted goods members of the congregation would donate and occasionally press on her.  "The last straw was the very large and grubby children’s toy lion that I was expected to gratefully receive and be thankful for. The insistent donor ‘s parting words: 'a bit of a clean up and it will be as good as new' was left ringing in my ears as this huge saggy lion, way past it’s best - its glass eyes  staring up at me – sat in my hall."

Sometimes our giving may be well-meaning, but may not be tactful, well thought-through or even biblical. How, why, when and to whom we give is not clear cut for any of us. Obviously we do give our old sofas and other unwanted goods away. I enjoy giving my favourite outgrown children’s clothes to friends and family and helping others out with curtains and soft furnishings, but is this really always sacrificial, godly giving? I think not, hence my vicar’s response to the old sofa. It is easy to mix up these kinds of donations with true sacrificial giving that the Bible talks about.

Set your mind on God’s kingdom and his justice before everything else, and all the rest will come to you as well. (Matthew 6:33, REV translation, 1990)

A few years ago my husband and I were part of a church building project and through sacrificial giving from the church family we were able to build a fantastic church centre that glorified God. For someone who loves beautiful surroundings, I loved the fact that the church could afford large oversized door frames made of oak, beautiful windows with bible verses expertly etched into the glass, a state of the art catering kitchen for 100, and a glass conservatory linking the church, offices and new centre (which created a wow factor for any visitor). The physical building transformed the church and now 15 years later the centre is still full of outreach groups both day and night. 

In the Old Testament, guidance on giving was to give the first fruits - that is the best of the harvest - the best lambs and the best bulls. God placed value on providing sacrificial gifts that were without defect (Exodus 12:5). In fact, the whole ‘Cain and Abel’ story came down to this very issue of giving sacrificially of your best (Genesis 4:1-16). Jesus also, was not averse to the best.  When Mary anointed him with oil, it was an outrageously expensive gift that she lavishly broke open and poured over her master – she even received criticism from some for her extravagance (Matthew 26:6-13). When Jesus turned the water into wine, it wasn’t some supermarket plonk, but as the banquet-master at the wedding said, the best had been kept until last (John 2:1-12).

We are called to be lavishly generous with our gifts. That doesn’t necessarily mean giving huge amounts, but it could mean giving the best of your time, the best of your energy, the best of your thoughts and the best of your gifts. Plan to spend time with someone; cook their favourite meal; go out of your way to say hello. Giving your best doesn’t necessarily have to require a huge gesture, but it is good to practise sacrificial giving. Next time, pause before you give away your dregs.

the challenge:

Have you ever given your dregs away to somebody? Take some time to think about what it would have looked like to have given your first fruits. What difference, if any, would it have made to that person?


Posted by Debbie Wright

Debbie Wright is Stewardship’s Head of Content and is passionate about generosity in all its guises. Besides occasional blogging and tweeting she creates resources and campaigns such as 40acts and Advent Wonder to inspire, engage and motivate the wider Christian community. Prior to joining, Debbie worked for A Rocha UK as editor of their national magazine and in a previous life worked as a TV producer/director for the BBC for 17 years.  Debbie is married to Graham; they have 4 daughters and a springer spaniel.  When not acting as taxi driver, she can be found on a salsa dance floor. Follow Debbie on Twitter @debwright99


Nic Boyns

June 24, 2013 11:00 AM
The comment below is in context of my view that this blog is excellent and challenging.

Many Christians give a lot of money to their local church which then spend it on the church building and its fixtures and fittings.
If it is the case that 90% of the use of the church building is by those outside the community of faith, then this is a brilliant example of giving.
However, if is is the case that 90% of the use of the church building is by those inside the community of faith, then this is an example of Christians spending money on themselves. Just as sacrificial giving may mean the giving to others of a new sofa and keeping the old sofa for my own use, sacrificial giving may mean the giving to others of the money for them to build a lovely building (e.g. in a less economically developed country) and using a functional building (without a wow factor) for my own use.

Sue Gulliver

May 20, 2015 12:51 PM
I agree in part with the above comment. A lot of Christian giving to the church does amount to Christians spending money on themselves, similar to members of a golf club Contributing towards a new club house. I attend a very financially blessed church, with modern buildings and a huge paid staff team. We give away 12% of all we receive! but it still could be argued that much of our spending is selfish. However the difference should lie in what the buildings are used for, and how effective the staff are at winning and discipline followers of Jesus. If outreach is at the centre of what we do, then the spending is not on ourselves.

Helen h

February 16, 2016 7:03 AM
I just want to say thank you for the daily readings
It's a great place to start each day

Paul Ouellette

February 16, 2016 2:25 PM
Many years ago when I was only 17 an elderly neighbour gave me her mantle clock bec she knew I loved clocks, she wasn't moving or going any where but out of generosity to me for the few things I did for her gave it to me, she had very little and was a widow and now over 40 yrs later her generous gift still astounds me. I often think of her and how kind she was.


February 17, 2016 3:50 PM
I wholeheartedly concur with this post. As a disabled person, people who can well afford to give something nice are too often trying to push dregs on me. I've come to feel that this a comment on their opinion of my worth as a disabled person. As in, "she's less of a person so it's okay to give her less." The bottom line is, I need to become more assertive about what I do and don't want (and I'm not materialistic and prefer living simply, so I don't have a long list of wants). 'It's lovely of you to think of me, but I really can't use that and hopefully you'll find someone who can", seems like a good reply to a dreg foister. In my own giving, if I'm offering something I've used I always leave the intended recipient an out, as in, "if it's something you don't like, no worries, I'll find a place for it." And, I don't give away things that I wouldn't use myself. I was surprised recently that I had some almost-new pots and pans I had put aside for a struggling college student. The only pan she wanted was the fry pan, and I decided I was not only fine with that, but proud of her for choosing what she did and did not want. She, too, comes from a family that foists dregs on those they deem unworthy of nicer gifts. It's important to really think about gifts, and ask people what they would like. That tiny bit of consideration goes a long way.

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