Deuteronomy 9:10 “The LORD gave me two stone tablets inscribed by the finger of God. On them were all the commandments the LORD proclaimed to you on the mountain out of the fire, on the day of the assembly.”
Giving is an attribute that first began with God. From the very inception of man, God breathed and gave life. God gave man responsibility over His Creation, then when He saw that it wasn’t good for man to be alone, God gave him a helpmate in Eve.
Since God modeled the idea of giving to us, the very idea is a quality worth considering in our own lives. Some very basic ideas worth taking note of, have greater depth than we might assume.
- The giver has something the receiver does not.
- The giver has a choice whether to give or not.
- The receiver must receive the gift.
- What is the reason for giving?
- Should the receiver expect anything?
- What expectations should we have when we give?
These simple ideas aren’t things people necessarily consider when giving away or receiving something, but when it comes to God, maybe we should take more thought into His purposes and likewise what our expectations should be.
2 Corinthians 9:7 “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Our attitude as givers is an important first thought. Giving denotes the position of the heart.
If the heart is full of bitterness, self-seeking, or full of the worries of this world, then any gift given probably wouldn’t be received too well. Notice how God pays attention to our hearts when we give, the reward given is for those who choose to give, not out of compulsion or some expectation, but because it makes them glad.
Acts 20:35 “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
For those who have the heart to give cheerfully, the blessings that come from giving are numerous.
“It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.”Mother Teresa
Many people who give faithfully recognize the immeasurable joy that comes from helping others out of love. Love is the key. Love is a manifestation of the heart and people see the love before they recognize the amount of the gift. The value is in reaching out to others, expressing kindness, and showing them you care.
My wife and I have been enduring the Covid virus this past couple weeks, our neighbors, who happen to be the only gay couple living on our street have been leaving little gifts on our doorstep—a bag of cookies one day, a small pizza the next, these small tokens of love are not lost on us. For a couple that has traditionally been castigated and even hated by people that call themselves christians, (and they know we are believers), their heartfelt kindness speaks volumes of the tenderness of their hearts.
How much more should people who have experienced the love of God attempt to show this same kind of love to people…if anything to express God’s love in tangible form to others.
Luke 6:38 “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
The Measure of Giving
How do we decide how much to give?
Do we base our giving on the need or do we base it on our ability to help?
When it comes to being generous, I’ve found that watching others who are generous givers, helps me determine a strategy.
When someone is in need, there is usually a reason why they are in need. Sometimes people just make bad financial decisions and get themselves into trouble. If the giver decides to bail them out by meeting their need, the same bad decisions that got them there in the first place may happen all over again.
Learning how to help someone get on their feet and then helping them sustain their current situation allows them to forego the shame of always asking for help. Sometimes walking them through their finances and cutting out unnecessary spending is a good start. Other times bad habits may be at work, drugs and alcohol may prevent them from holding down a job, or even getting one in the first place. People who are in financial trouble often have bigger problems than just money issues, they have character issues that need to be addressed first.
The amount of help is best addressed by what truly helps someone and doesn’t just enable them.
Giving to the Lord
Malachi 3:10 “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”
The principle of first fruits is a practice that recognizes God’s provision and honors Him first with your income.
This principle of tithing is one of the few places in scripture where God encourages us to test Him. The importance of tithing to your local church is a precept that not only supports the foundational elements for strong families, Godly fellowship, and community connection…but it also builds up the entity of God’s revelation through His people to the world.
2 Corinthians 9:6 “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”
There seems to be a connection with the amount of blessing received with the measure of love given.
The common mistake of people who read the Bible on giving is that God will give your money back to you–in even greater measure. For those who give in this fashion, the money may not return like expected and the blessings that would have followed may have been missed. Giving out of heart of greed only limits the ability to receive anything of worthwhile afterwards.
Giving more than Money
2 Timothy 6:17-19 “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.”
The call of God to give is to release people from the captivity of money and express love to others. The less we hold onto money, the more realize value in life.
“Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.”Epictetus
Contentment is rarely found in the hearts of those who love money. No matter how much they acquire, it is never enough. Acquiring money is useful when it is done in wisdom, with an eye to the future. For those who make acquiring money their aim, the focus shifts to the volume and that is never satisfied.
“Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of filling a vacuum, it makes one.”Benjamin Franklin
The more people tend to give away, the more they seem to have. There is far more to life than riches or things, the value of life is found in the small things…the love we share, good fellowship, a helping hand, or just a nice walk together…it’s the quality of the moment not the expense placed into it that matters.
In Want or in Need?
A common site in our town is the vast numbers of homeless people. Our current governor has made supporting the homeless a priority over those who obey the laws of the land and work hard for a living. As a result of these laws, many people have come in from across the state and country to be homeless in Olympia, Washington.
A common sight seen is people holding pieces of cardboard on street corners, asking for any help possible.
My wife and I served in homeless ministries over a decade and one thing I know is it’s really hard to go hungry in our town. There are free food options everywhere, people only have to show up or just reach out their hand, the possibilities seem endless. I know from first hand knowledge that the majority of people begging on street corners desire to support a drug or alcohol habit. The food is free, the drugs and alcohol aren’t quite as easy to acquire without charge.
The question of what is wanted versus what is needed is something every person should ask themselves. Should I beg for something I can earn on my own? Should I ask for others help if I can help myself?
- We want to be happy—we need God to fill us.
- We want to be secure—we need God’s providence.
- We don’t want to worry—we need to trust God.
- We want to be satisfied—we need the Word of God.
- We want to be free from sin—so we need God’s grace.
Matthew 5:29-30 “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”
There are so many things we think we need so we forget what is really important in life. The lust of the eyes and the greed of the hands are far less important than your life.
If we get so consumed with trying to meet our wants, we will forget the giver of all good things.
If your in need, pray to God first, allow Him to meet your need in the way He provides. Start practicing your faith openly and actively, allowing the Lord to keep your eyes on Him and not on this world.
You’ll find that the things of this world diminish in light of the blessings that follow–for those who actively seek after God in their lives.