Natural Born Takers—Born Again Givers

Susan & Todd Peterson
5 min read

We used to think being generous was something you work to become, as if you earn it. We admired other generous couples but misunderstood what it meant to actually be generous. But now we know being generous is not something we earn or achieve but rather it’s the only reasonable response to our God Who gave everything.

Over time as we’ve followed Jesus, we’ve better grasped God’s grace. As we consider the Gospel, we realize with God we don’t have to earn anything. The Gospel is the best picture of generosity the world will ever see. Think about it…God gave everything…for you and me!

John 3:16 says that He gave His only Son. We don’t even know how to relate to that! We’ve never ever given everything, have you? God always gives 100%, all of Himself to and for us. Yet, we get excited about giving even a small percentage of our income back to Him. The average Christian in America gives less than 3% of their income and very few actually practice tithing, or they give literally 10% of their income.

We’ve experienced great joy through giving. Scripture says joy is one of the benefits of giving. We experience joy because we’re so grateful for what Jesus did for us; our only reasonable response is to give back to Him what He gave us in the first place, abundant life. And when we do we experience the truth that, “it is more blessed to give than to receive,” it may feel counterintuitive. It’s counter to the way the world thinks, but it makes perfect sense in God’s economy.

And we know it is true because we’ve lived it. It’s quite amazing to know the Holy Spirit helps us become imitators of God, as Ephesians 5:1 says. When we surrender to Jesus, we are born again and God begins to conform us to Jesus’ image.

Scripture tells us we have the mind of Christ, how outrageous is that? As we follow God, we begin to think and act like Jesus. As He changes us, we move from being “natural born takers” to “born again givers” and from being selfish to putting others’ interests before our own. That’s where the inexplicable joy flows from! If giving felt obligatory before we knew Jesus, we realize the privilege it is to give back once we start to follow Him; we don’t ‘have’ to give but rather we get to give.

Jesus didn’t come to be served but rather to serve. That’s the power of the Gospel to change us….we become a new creation, the old is put off and the new put on. We focus on how our giving can help others.

So, in light of God’s powerful work in us, how do we do anything but offer back to Him everything we have and are….that’s Romans 12:1, isn’t it! We present our bodies a living sacrifice to God, offering Him our very lives. This is our spiritual act of worship, our reasonable response to His gift to us, and as He takes control of us He works in and through us to accomplish immeasurably more than we can imagine.

When we surrender to the Lord and begin serving Him life really gets exciting. Proverbs 11 says, “The world of the generous gets larger and larger, the world of the stingy smaller and smaller.” Living generously has taken us all over the world to dozens of countries affording us the huge privilege of getting to know many incredible, Kingdom-focused leaders.

God has truly enlarged our world as we’ve given our lives away. He’s invited us on His Great Adventure! His Kingdom is always advancing and He wants to use us to help Him redeem the world, to partner with Him as He brings all nations to the light, as Isaiah 60 says. This is true for everyone who wants to give!

This joy and adventure isn’t tied to how much we have but entirely related to our willingness to sacrifice; it’s not about the size of our gift nearly as much as our heart’s desire to give. We know this because of God’s commendation of the widow who gave two mites! How, well she gave everything she had….sound familiar? The widow was simply following the One she knew she could trust., the One Who gave it all.

As we give we become more like Jesus, just like the widow in Scripture. Miraculously as God works in us we become givers ourselves! The more we become like God, the greater the light we shine in this broken world in which we live.

Through our giving God allows us the privilege of helping Him to heal the world! Incredible! Our giving helps heal the world. There can’t be anything better to do in life….our giving constantly creates the collision of the only two things that will last forever: God’s Word and the souls of men and women. Don’t we want our lives to be invested in that which will last forever, what better investment is there than the Kingdom of God?

written by

Susan & Todd Peterson

Susan and Todd Peterson live in Atlanta, GA. They both received degrees in Banking & Finance from University of Georgia. Susan is co-founder and CEO of Relish and Cabell’s Designs. Todd serves on a number of private company and ministry boards having retired from 13 years kicking in the NFL. Susan is a Trustee for Young Life and Todd is chairman of the Young Life Foundation. They both serve on the boards of The Gathering and Pro Athletes Outreach, of which Todd also serves as chairman. Along with several other couples they give visionary leadership to the illumiNations alliance of Bible transition agencies. Todd also serves on the board of Passion Conferences and Passion City Church, which they helped to start and still worship with in Atlanta. The Petersons have two amazing children, Hannah (24) and Zach (22) and one dog, Rookie.