Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness (Romans 12:6-8, NKJV).
One would think that the spiritual gift of giving would require the person with this gift to have lots of money so that they may distribute it liberally. But if they thought that, then they would be misinterpreting the “gift” of giving. In fact, one would almost have to question whether the act of giving was really a spiritual gift at all if that were the case, because then only rich Christians would have it, which of course would be ridiculous. It is necessary therefore, to first look at the Greek words Paul used when he said, “he who gives, with liberality” and then to take what he said in the context of his letter to the Romans.
The Greek word used is metadidōmi (met-ad-id’-o-mee) and means “to give a share of or impart.” In Romans 1:11 Paul says, “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established.” The word “impart” (metadidōmi) is the same word used for “gives” in Romans 12:8 and in both cases Paul was not referring to money or material possessions. But in each instance, he was encouraging those who minister through spreading the Gospel, to do so with “liberality”. Liberality means to give generously, and so we should. But here is something interesting - that word “liberality” is translated in the KJV as “simplicity” because the original Greek word used was haplotēs and it means several things - “singleness, simplicity, sincerity and mental honesty.” It quite literally means someone who is free from pretense or hypocrisy, who is not self-seeking, but demonstrates their openness to share or impart (metadidōmi) their lives, or pour themselves out for others to further God’s Kingdom. This "pouring out" of oneself is the very essence of the “gift” of giving.
It is not a matter of just sharing material possessions or money with others (anyone can do that). It is much more profound. Those with the gift of giving spend their lives in service to others imparting their wisdom, knowledge, skills – whatever it takes – to enrich the lives of those around them. Paul demonstrates how he and his fellow missionaries used the gift of giving in 2 Thessalonians 2:8-9:
“So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God.”
As you can see, the “gift of giving” isn’t just about money or material possessions, although those with this gift will quite literally give the shirt off their back if they feel God telling them to. It is about giving of yourself for the sake of the gospel. People with this gift can often be found on the mission field, sometimes going to dangerous places and great lengths to not only convert the lost but to help those in need in concrete ways. Closer to home they will often be found helping in shelters, feeding the homeless, or caring for the sick and elderly. At church you may find that these people are the first to jump in and lend a hand wherever it is needed. Their “passion” will be giving of themselves, their time, their talents and yes, their possessions and money, in order to spread the Gospel. They are a necessary part of the church for they accentuate Christ’s love, compassion and care in the church body.
They quite literally show Jesus' love in action.