the weblog of Alan Knox

When you have nothing left to give…

Posted by on Oct 5, 2012 in love, missional, service | 6 comments

In the last few weeks, I’ve had several good, encouraging, challenging conversations with some brothers and sisters in Christ who are seeking to follow Jesus as he leads them to give to and serve others. I’m not just talking about giving out money to people in need; I’m talking about spending time with people that God brings into their life, helping them with various life issues as well as helping them follow Jesus.

These friends have each shared examples of times when God has allowed them to greatly help other people. Sometimes, they were helping other brothers and sisters in Christ, and sometimes they were loving on and serving people who were not (yet) followers of Jesus. They were encouraged and humbled by the fact that God was using them in ways that are often surprising and unexpected.

But, occasionally, my friends also shared another concern: there are so many people who need help, and my friends do not always have the money, time, energy, resources, etc. to help them.

Now, there are many different reasons for this kind of feeling, and I don’t want to get into all of those reasons. Instead, I’m hoping that this post will be an encouragement to those who find themselves in a similar situation.

First, I want to thank for giving of yourselves in this ways. You are demonstrating the love of God, as John described here:

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:16-18 ESV)

When we give to others who are in need, the love of God is abiding in us, and we are loving in deed and in truth.

Second, please notice something that John wrote above, “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need…”

You are not responsible for giving something that you do not have. This is very difficult for people who spend so much of their money, time, energy, and resources helping others. But, when the money, time, energy, and resources are gone – when you truly have nothing left to give – then you are not withholding the love of God when you do not give to someone.

Of course, even though I say that – and even though John makes the point clear in the passage above – it’s still difficult to accept. Why? Because we still know that people are in need and because we still want to help them.

But, remember, God loves these people much more than you do. He has more resources than you have. Do not allow anyone or anything (not even yourself) to lay guilt on you for not helping someone when you have nothing to give.

In Jesus’ name, share what he has given you in order to demonstrate the love that God has lavished on you. And, accept that if God has not given you anything to share with others, then he does not want you to share anything with them.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 10-5-2012

    This really stuck out for me –> “You are not responsible for giving something that you do not have.” So often we think just because we see a need we should be the ones to fulfill it. Most of this year my husband has been receiving chemotherapy and I had to learn that sometimes it’s alright to just be the one who receives or the one who has nothing to give. Thanks so much for this reminder!

  2. 10-5-2012

    Balanced post. I would add that compassion also prays for more laborers to be sent into the fields as well as meeting people of peace who will become disciples that also share the resource of themselves in Christ.

  3. 10-5-2012


    Yeah, I gotta agree with Wendy above. Your comment was wise and she built upon it wonderfully. It’s like when you see those TV snippets about the starving children of the world. Your heart breaks and you feel motivated to do something, anything, but the reality is at times that we simply cannot meet the needs of others apart from petitioning our Father for His mercy, Grace, and compassionate provision.

    On the note of giving: Recently I was having a conversation with a brother and asked him, “I understand we are to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, but..well..what happens when we can’t because Caesar has taken all we have?” He responded, “Well, I guess we’ll be sent to jail.” Just a thought.

  4. 10-5-2012

    Thank you

  5. 10-6-2012

    This needs to be spoken more and more. Too often I read articles on how believers don’t give enough, or how believers are guilty of living for ourselves and forgetting the poor. That we have SOOOO much and we as believers are not doing enough to alleviate poverty (whether it’s through personal giving or being taxed). The condemning articles give statistics about giving within The Church and project selfish motives on those who don’t give to the degree that they deem reasonable. OR they assign selfish motives to those who do not wish to see their taxes raised for more social programs.
    We are raising a family of 9. We give where the Lord leads us to give, sometimes monetarily or making meals, or time… But we do not have the monetary resources to dole out money for every cause and I am tired of being made to feel guilty over having enough food on our table, or blessing our children with gifts, or taking a family vacation. We have never been to Disney World, nor would I care to go there, but even if we did, are we guilty of forgetting those who have less than us? No! Not at all.

  6. 10-8-2012

    Thank you for the comments everyone. I’m sorry that it took me so long to reply… I’ve had a very busy few days… and had no time to give. 😉

    Seriously, I appreciate everything that was added to this discussion.