Saturday, October 5, 2019

Triplets of Giving

Continuing on our missions theme, as is appropriate given the start of the church year and emphasis on missions in many churches, it may be appropriate to revisit the Bible's views on giving. 

God’s Word reflects His triune nature as God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as it describes His creation, doctrinal truths, and practical wisdom to apply to our lives. He asks us to worship Him with prayer, service, and giving of our time, talent and treasure and has specified how we should give back to Him a portion of the material blessings He has entrusted to us. 

Worshipping God with our financial store (James 1:27) includes tithes, offerings, and designated support to further His kingdom. God shows no partiality and is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34), and He treats everyone fairly by commanding that we give the first tenth of our income, or tithe, back to Him. The dollar amount does not matter to Him as long as we faithfully give ten percent. 

By giving Him the first tenth, and not waiting to see if we can scrape out that amount once we pay our bills and other obligations, we are showing our faith in His bountiful provision, blessing and faithfulness. The tithe was not only part of the law given to Moses (Leviticus 27:30-32), but it preceded the law (Genesis 14:20) and is repeated after Christian liberty replaced the law (Hebrews 7:5-11), including the need to “pay” God first (1 Corinthians 16:2). 

God takes the tithe so seriously that when Israel failed to give Him their obedience, tithes and offerings, He accused them of robbing Him, resulting in their being cursed and in God’s judgment on them. Yet He offered a three-step solution: bring Him the tithes; put Him to the test to see if He would keep His promise of blessing; and trust Him to do so beyond expectation (Malachi 3: 2-10). 

His promised blessing for obedience with tithing is also threefold: He will pour out a blessing so great that we will not have room to receive it (v. 10); He will prevent future financial loss (v. 11); and He will grant us honor among others (v. 12). If we withhold the tithe, we will not lose our salvation (Romans 8:35-39), but how foolish to disobey God in tithing and to miss out on these great blessings! 

We give our love offerings over and above the tithe, again as a form of worship, to express our gratitude for His many blessings. These might commemorate a joyous occasion such as a marriage, birth or baptism. Our church has a special love offering at Christmas, known as our birthday present to Jesus, to thank Him for coming to earth in human form (John 1:14), dying on the cross to pay our sin debt, and rising again so that all who trust Him have eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; John 3:16). 

From the early days of the church, Christians have also provided designated support to contribute to God’s work, to empower that work to continue, and to share in the blessing of being responsible for that work (Philippians 4:14-17). Designated support may be a one-time gift, such as to a specific church project; a regular, ongoing gift to the church, as in Faith Promise giving that many churches have to support missionaries, or a regular, ongoing gift to a specific missionary or parachurch organization. 

For giving to be a form of worship, it should be done cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:7), sacrificially, and faithfully (Job 1:5). Jesus praised the poor widow who put her meager two mites into the offering and valued her gift far more than the contributions of the wealthy, for it was all she had (Mark 12:41-44). 

God does not want us to grudgingly dole out our pennies out of a sense of duty, but to give abundantly, knowing that He will be pleased by our faith (Hebrews 11:6), honor our giving and empower us to continue giving. Jesus honored and commemorated the woman who broke open the costly alabaster box and poured its precious perfumed ointment lavishly on Him (Mark 14:3-9). 

The law of the harvest applies to giving just as it does to planting crops (Ecclesiastes 11:6) or sowing the seed of God’s Word (Matthew 13:1-10) – if we sow sparingly, we will reap sparingly, and if we sow bountifully, we will reap bountifully (2 Corinthians 9:6). When we give generously, we receive abundant blessings, including peace that comes from obeying God (Philippians 4:6-7), joy in helping others (Esther 9:22), and honor that He uses us as a part of His plan (2 Corinthians 5:20). 

Jesus used the analogy of receiving a measure of grain – not only the amount we expected, but much more, because it is pressed down in the measuring cup to make room for more, shaken together to accommodate still more, and even running over beyond the bounds of the cup (Luke 6:38). 

We tend to hold out on giving when we forget that everything belongs to God (Psalm 50:10). He has entrusted us with certain resources, but if we use them selfishly instead of to honor Him, He will reapportion these resources to others who are better stewards (1 Corinthians 4:2). 

In the parable of the talents, the Master gave different sums to each of His three servants, and rewarded or punished them based on how well they did for Him with what they had  Matthew 25:14-30). As our first pastor used to say, “God will give much more through you than He will to you.” 

You can’t outgive God, as He has shown so many times in my life, and I am sure in the lives of many of this blog’s readers. During a missions conference several years ago, the Holy Spirit impressed upon me that I should donate a certain sum to the work of a particular missionary. I struggled with obedience to His will, as it was tax time and we also faced many other pressing financial obligations. 

Yet when I obeyed and wrote a check to that missionary, three days later I received a totally unexpected check in the mail, for ten times the amount of the gift I had given, representing payment of a bad debt I had written off many years before! Even better, the following months brought news of how my gift had enabled the missionary to produce much fruit, reaching souls and starting churches. 

When we commit to honor God with our tithes, offerings, and designated support, He will empower us to do so. The associate pastor at our former church gave a testimony of how shortly after he was saved, he had committed to give $20 weekly for Faith Promise missions, which was a sacrificial gift for him at the time due to his financial situation. 

One Wednesday evening, which was when he always put his $20 Faith Promise offering in the plate, he simply did not have it in his wallet, bank account, or spare change, and was almost ashamed to go to church that night. Yet he decided to go empty-handed, and as he was about to get into his car he was shocked to spot a $20 bill lying on the pavement! Needless to say, God enabled him to keep his promise. 

God may not always reward us financially for our giving, but He has promised to provide for His children (Psalm 37:25; Matthew 6:25-33), and He blesses us spiritually exceedingly abundantly beyond what we could ask or think (Ephesians 3:20), giving us showers of blessings (Ezekiel 34:26). 

Whether or not we see the fruit of our giving in this lifetime, we know He will reward us in glory for gifts given with the right motive (1 Corinthians 3:11-15). May we give cheerfully, abundantly, and faithfully and experience showers of blessings! 

© 2015 Laurie Collett
Reposted from the archives


Keith said...

I like your post. There are many times that I find myself using many words to explain a certain thought. When I finish, I step back and am reminded of something, within God's Word. Your post is the same. Y'shua said, "Treat others as ourselves." If we would only treat others in the same mindset as ourselves, then charity, giving, serving each other, etc. would be automatic. Shalom.

Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie,
I was quite taken back by the head photo of what appears to be a pile of crates fastened under chains, padlock and key, such would be seen, for example, in a secular high-security delivery vehicle rather than inside a church!
However, having said that, it is good to give from the joy of your heart rather than by mere duty, as the children of Israel probably did in days of old. Yet by Jeremiah's day, they were so out of touch with God, that He allowed them into captivity.
How wonderful it is when the Father sees us in perfect righteousness as he sees his Son. Hence the word "Christian" means "Little Christ" - because that's how God sees us.
Therefore I agree with you that we should be free to give according to the willingness of the heart, and not be judgmental towards anyone whose opinion may differ on this subject.
An excellent post, God bless.

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Keith! All the law can now be summed in the liberty of Christ -- love Him, and love one another, and then obedience, service and charity will naturally flow from that love.
Thanks again for your comment, and God bless,

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Frank,
Good point about the security -- but as the saying goes, keep honest people honest by not placing temptation in their path! Most churches I have attended seem to go to great lengths to be financially accountable and transparent, which is a good thing to avoid even the appearance of evil. As you say, giving should be as the Spirit leads, for God loves a cheerful giver.
Thanks as always for your Biblically-based insights.
God bless,

Brenda said...

Hi Laurie, the scripture that I have always loved is 'Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all else will be added.' He has always supplied all I have needed. I do believe that God can miraculously put money in front of a person when they need it, and also believe He can have a person see money on the floor for another reason. I was reminded of when I came across a wallet with a lot of money in it. I went to the police station, just told them I had found the wallet,did not tell them how much was in it and gave them my phone number. A man contacted them saying he had lost a wallet. I asked how much he told them was in it. They told me the exact amount. I met up with him to return it, he told me it was his wage for the week. It made my day to see his happiness, and I refused the little reward he wanted me to have.

Laurie Collett said...

Amen, Brenda! He will always care for His own who are faithful to Him. Praise the Lord for your honesty and faithfulness! My husband had a similar experience many years ago. He found several loose bills outside a supermarket, and went in and left his phone number with the manager, asking him to call if anyone reported money missing. A few hours later he got a call from a waitress in a panic because she had lost her money as she was loading groceries into the car and the wind blew it away. She told my husband the exact amount that he had found. Thanks for your comment and God bless,

Brenda said...

Aww... Laurie, how lovely. I am sure the lady who your husband returned the money to could see the Lord shining through him through what he did. Sometimes I believe this is the 'planting' or the 'watering' in God's plans for all, including that lady.
God bless you and your dear husband with all that He has for us in our Lord Jesus.

Laurie Collett said...

Thank you, Brenda, and God bless you too!