the apostle paul writes some amazing things about generosity in his second letter to the followers of christ in corinth. the macedonian churches had stepped up to financially provide for the church in jerusalem. paul uses that situation to teach us about giving in chapters eight and nine. here's one of his lessons:
Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have. 2 Corinthians 8:10-12
wow! can you imagine being the first one to give? and not just to do it, but to really want to do it? more than anything else, giving is a matter of the heart. but it isn't just a good intention or a willingness to do it, but it is actually the completion of it. we aren't to talk about giving. we aren't to hope to give. it's not enough to want to do it. we've got to do it!
the cool part about giving, though, is that it is to be done according to our means. god doesn't ask us to give what we don't have. he doesn't ask us to give above our income. he just says to do it in relationship to what we do have. if there is good heart, the worth of gift is judged by what we have...not by what we don't have or what our neighbors have or by what the person sitting next to you in worship has.
i think it's pretty comforting to know that, even though giving is required, it is never burdensome, never unfair, never taxing, and never unrealistic. god would never do it that way.