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David: a leader gives leadership gifts. When they give, others follow their example. Not only did he understand the importance of integrity ("I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.") but he expected others to sacrifice as well—and they did.

Solomon: the extravagant giver. Everything extraordinary in size and quality: 3000 proverbs, 1005 songs, a splendid Temple and palace. When he gave, he didn't hide it or shy away from recognition.

Elisha: his gift to the widow was not money but the gift of an opportunity to create a profitable business to support her family. He told her to get all her neighbors involved ("not just a few") by giving her their empty jars. She then sells the oil to pay her debts and is able to live on what is left.

The Wise Men: team givers, working with others but also having a unique contribution. They shared the risk. And they came, contributed and departed. No evidence that they expected Mary and Joseph to report a year later on how the gifts were being used.

Zaccheus: interesting blend of exuberance and precision. His life was changed; his attention to detail was not. He pledges to give half his wealth to the poor—leaving himself the balance. He will repay those he cheated not ten times but four. His new generosity has structure—and limits.

Barnabas: Acts says the first Christians sold possessions (Barnabas sold a field) and took care of each other. It does not say they sold all their possessions. In addition, Barnabas recognized and supported new talent (Paul, John Mark) and gave them the credibility they needed to get started.

Other personal styles of giving are also shown in Scripture. Your giving is part of your unique "workmanship" that God built into you (Eph. 2:10).

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From Issue:Going Missions, Winter 2007 | Posted: January 1, 2007

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