Louis R. Torres is president of the Guam-Micronesia Mission. This article first appeared in Best Practice, August 12, 2012.

Giving is basic to life. All nature was made with the innate inability to hold back and not give. Only human beings were created with the ability to give—or refuse to give. When we give, we go against our pre-programmed nature. This makes our gifts more meaningful, because giving brings with it emotions and feelings that inanimate objects cannot convey. And giving becomes even more dear and cherished when it comes from the heart.

When Jesus was in the temple in Jerusalem, He “saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury” (Luke 21:1). He also noticed “a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites” (verse 2). To this He said, “Verily I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: for all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living” (Mark 12:43, 44).

How was it possible for this woman to give more “than all they which have cast into the treasury”? Let’s suppose that Mary works at a store and earns $100 per week. John makes $100 per hour. In church Mary puts $50 in the offering plate, and John also gives $50. Who gave more? Technically, they gave the same amount, but when comparing the time spent to earn it, Mary’s gift represented half a week’s wages, while John’s represented only 30 minutes of labor. Mary invested more of her life to earn what she gave.

Our earned wages are a representation of an exchange made for a portion of our life, time, and talents. When we go to work, our employer is paying us what he or she thinks our time and talents are worth. Consequently, when we give, we are giving a portion of our life to benefit another. The value of a penny or dollar is measured by heaven—not by the value of the instrument itself but by the amount of life expended to earn it.

God so loved that He gave. He did not redeem us “with corruptible things, as silver and gold . . . but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Pet. 1:18, 19). God redeemed us through His Son. God asks us to give, not because He needs our metal, paper, or plastic but rather because of what those things represent: returning to Him a portion of the life He has given us, and, by so doing, demonstrating our belief that He is our Life-giver and that we are in tune with His value of life. Thus we lay treasure—saved lives—in store in the kingdom. How do you explain the reasons for giving?

Louis R. Torres is president of the Guam-Micronesia Mission. This article first appeared in Best Practice, August 12, 2012.