As I prepare to teach my staff this Wednesday on the importance and value of giving as a person who lives out the righteousness of God, I want to share some of those ideas with you here so that I can think through the subject and present it clearly. In order to better understand the subject of giving, I would like for us to read a few passages of Scripture.
I. Giving is a sign of the grace of God
Giving is not something that comes naturally to us. Because of our sinful nature, we are inclined to be selfish instead of selfless. God, on the other hand, is the Author of giving. He gave life to us. He gave of Himself to us. He gave His only Son for us. He is a giving God, not expecting anything in return. Even our worship and obedience stem from the fact that He is a Giver.
1Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia,2that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. (II Corinthians 8)
9For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich. (II Corinthians 8)
Once a person has experienced the grace of God in His life, the natural outflow of that is that he wants to give. He gives of his time, his energy, and especially his resources so that others can be blessed. He does not give like the world does, in order to gain something in return. If you are giving in order to be blessed, then you have missed the point of giving and do not understand the grace of God. You will be blessed because you give but that is not your motivation. If that is your motivation, what makes you any different from the rest of the world. A selfish man does not mind giving if he is going to get what he wants in return.
II. Giving is to be done to meet a need
In the Sermon on the Mount, the scribes and Pharisees were giving, but not for the right reasons. They were giving, not to meet the need of the recipients, instead to be noticed by others and make themselves feel better. In II Corinthians 8, Paul teaches on why we should give, our motives when he says:
3 For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, 4 begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints,
The Macedonians wanted to meet the needs of the saints. They knew what the specific needs were and had been blessed by God to be able to meet those needs, even though they were terribly poor themselves. James teaches this same idea in his epistle, in chapter 1:
27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this : to visit orphans and widows in their distress
Visiting in this text literally means “researching their needs”. When we give, we do not just throw money at something to make ourselves feel better. When we give, we do it knowing what the needs are specifically and seeking to give what we have to meet those needs. It may be time, effort, energy, financial resources etc.
III. Giving shows you trust God
If God has blessed you with an abundance at the moment, it is for the purpose of you being a blessing to others in their time of need.
13 For this is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality – 14 at this present time your abundance being a supply for their need, so that their abundance also may become a supply for your need, that there may be equality ; 15 as it is written, “HE WHO gathered MUCH DID NOT HAVE TOO MUCH, AND HE WHO gathered LITTLE HAD NO LACK.” (II Corinthians 8)
He does not bless you simply so that you can have more than others. He blesses you and then gives you the responsibility to use that blessing to bless others. The person whom you bless benefits from the gift and you benefit from the giving. Some believe that if you give what God has blessed you with then what will you do when you face needs? The text answers. God will bless others financially so that they can be a blessing to you in your time of need. The question is, “do you trust God enough to practice this?”.
IV. Giving gets the attention of unbelievers
In the book of Acts, we find the early Church living out the teachings of Christ practically, on a daily basis. They understood the value of giving.
43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe ; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common ; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved (Acts 2)
The believers understood that everything came from the hand of God. They realized that their possessions were gifts from the Lord, to be used as a blessing for those who were in need. They had experienced the grace of God and began to mimic God by becoming givers themselves. Their attitudes were contagious because people were coming to the Lord and joining the church, day by day. In II Corinthians 9, Paul explains that as you give, unbelievers will take note of it and want to know why you do it. You get a chance to share Christ with them and they will glorify God together with you. This is what we see happening in Acts 2.
Do you give? Why do you give; to make yourself feel better or to meet the needs of the recipients? Do you give because you have experienced the grace of God or do you do it to make God happy? Do you trust God enough to follow His teachings about giving? Does your giving meet people’s needs so that they can be led to faith in Christ? May the Lord teach us to give as He gives.