GETTING THE MOST OUT OF GIVING

Part 5

 

Another important part of our worship to God is giving of our means, and it should bring us joy to be able to offer back to God a portion of what He has blessed us with, but for some Christians this is not the case. To them, giving of their money seems like a necessary evil. They donít like the idea of letting go of their hard earned cash, yet they want to reap the spiritual benefits of God. Some are so greedy when it comes to their money that they will even limit how often they go to church so they donít have to give every week.

 

Some have the view that the preacher or the church is just a racquet and they just want all your money. I can understand why some might have this misconception because there are many preachers on TV that have been caught trying to swindle people out of their money by giving false prophecies and by faking miracles.

 

However, as members of Lordís church, we should not hold such animosity toward giving of our means to the Lord because when the church is pattered after the 1st century church, we can know that the church is not a racquet and the preacher is not trying to get all our money. Instead, we are simply following the commands of God, just like we follow the command to sing, pray and to partake of the Lordís Supper. When we give with the right spirit, not only will we feel better about ourselves, we can know that our money is being used for the Lordís work.

 

In this lesson, my goal is to help you to get the most out giving. The first thing I want us to examine is what the Bible says about the collection of the saints.

 

As Paul went around teaching in different churches, he taught all of them the same Gospel as we read in:

 

1 Corinthians 4:14 I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you.15 For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me.17 For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.

 

As Paul told the Ephesian Elders in Acts 20, he declared the whole counsel of God. Now notice what he wrote about the collection for the saints:

 

1 Corinthians 16:1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also:2 On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.

 

While only these two specific churches are named, this is the standard by which all churches are to follow. We are to give on the first day of every week. Since love is our motivating force for serving God and obeying His commands, love will also play a crucial role in us getting the most out of giving. I just saw an interview where some scientist have proven that it is better to give than it is to receive. They measured endorphins of several subjects and told them to think about giving money to their favorite charity that they believe in and their endorphin levels would increase more so than if they thought about receiving something.

 

While they tried to explain this reaction away by using evolution, they were in fact backing up what Jesus said almost 2,000 years ago.

 

Acts 20:35 And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' "

 

When you love God and you know that your money is helping His kingdom grow, it will cause you to find great joy in giving of your means.

 

Paul tells us to lay something aside each week as we prosper. This tells us that some planning should go into how much we are going to give to God. One of the worse things we could do when it comes to giving it to open up our purse or our wallet each week and just pull out what find there. If we do this it shows that we have not put much thought into what we are willing to give to God. It is almost like we are giving God our leftovers. This kind of giving didnít work out very well for those of Malachiís day:

 

Malachi 1:6 " A son honors his father, And a servant his master. If then I am the Father, Where is My honor? And if I am a Master, Where is My reverence? Says the LORD of hosts To you priests who despise My name. Yet you say, 'In what way have we despised Your name?'7 "You offer defiled food on My altar. But say, 'In what way have we defiled You?' By saying, 'The table of the LORD is contemptible.'8 And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, Is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, Is it not evil? Offer it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably?" Says the LORD of hosts.

 

Do we really think that we can show honor to God by giving no thought in how much we give and by giving Him our leftovers? Of course we cannot.

 

When we sit down and examine the amount of money that we have coming in and then we determine beforehand what we are going to give, we are going to know exactly what we are going to give each week to God for the cause of His kingdom.

 

Paulís gives us more insight in:

 

2 Corinthians 9:6 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

 

This is a passage that has been twisted by some to teach a prosperity gospel. The preacher will stand up and tell you that the more money you give the more money you will get back, and they will even say that God may give you back 10 times as much or maybe even 50 or 100. This is not what Paul was teaching.

 

Yes, the more we give the more we will reap, but what we reap is not always more money. Sometimes we may reap more joy by knowing that our money has strengthened the church or touched someoneís life. Many times we gain great spiritual strength and a stronger trust in God by giving.

 

It is also possible that God may bless us with more money so that we can give even more. What Paul is teaching here is taught in several other places as well.

 

Isaiah 32:8 But a generous man devises generous things, And by generosity he shall stand.

 

Luke 18:29 So He said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God,30 "who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life."

 

Proverbs 11:24 There is one who scatters, yet increases more; And there is one who withholds more than is right, But it leads to poverty.25 The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself.

 

Paul continues his thought in the next verse:

 

2 Corinthians 9:7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

 

Most of the denominations out there will teach that you are supposed tithe, that is you are to give 10% of your income to the church. However, the practice of tithing was an OT command and you will not find tithing being commanded under the new covenant that we are under. Paul makes it clear that we are under a different system of giving because he said that we are to give as we purpose in our heart.

 

God has given us the responsibility to choose how much we will give. If tithing were still in place, then Paulís statement would not make much sense because we would know exactly how much we are supposed to give. But as Paul said, if we give sparingly, we will reap sparingly. If we give bountifully, we reap bountifully.

 

It might be case that we purpose to give 10%. There certainly nothing wrong with that, but then again, we may choose to give 12 % or even 15 %. It is entirely up to us and what we give is between us and God. We know in own heart if we are giving as we should. Knowing that God has given us the privilege to choose how much we want to give should help us to get the most of our giving because we donít have to worry about the amount we give because it more about how we give. When we have the right attitude about giving then the right amount will be given.

 

Again, as Paul said, our giving should be something that brings cheer into our life. Giving should never be done grudgingly or with the attitude I have to give. Instead, we should have the attitude that we get to give because it is a wonderful feeling and blessing to be able to give back a portion of what God has blessed us with. After all, everything belongs to God in the first place because without Him nothing would exist.

 

Another thing that will help us to get the most out of giving is to realize that the money we give is used for the work of Godís kingdom.

 

This convenient building that we meet it provides a central location in our community for all Christians to meet, but it takes our money to maintain it and to supply the basic needs we use when we gather.

 

The Bibles in the pews and the equipment we have is all used to enhance our Bible studies and make Godís Word easier to hear and understand. Again, our money helps provide all this.

 

The money we give supports the preacher so that he can dedicate his time to developing lessons from Godís Word that feed the church spiritually. Of course this support allows for him to be able to have more time to be able to evangelize and be available for those who need spiritual guidance. This is certainly a Scriptural use for our money. As Paul writes in:

 

1 Corinthians 9:8 Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also?9 For it is written in the law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain." Is it oxen God is concerned about?10 Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope.11 If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things?12 If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more? Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ.13 Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar?14 Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.

 

Our money is also used for benevolence. From time to time those from the community or even those that are passing through will ask for food or other essential items. When we give of our means, we make it possible for the church to be able to help them out and it makes it possible for us to help our brother and sister in Christ out. The less we give, the less we are able to help those in need through the church.

 

Our money is also used to help support those who are preaching the Gospel through radio or TV programs.

 

All of these things are important to the kingdom of God, and you can take great satisfaction in knowing that the money you give to the Lord is not being wasted. Our elders are good stewards as all elders should be, and they will make sure that the funds we use are done so properly and with purpose. Understanding this will help us to get the most out of our giving.

 

When it comes to our money and material things, we need remind ourselves that they are not very important to us in the scheme of things, which is why Paul said:

 

1 Timothy 6:7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

 

Similarly,

 

Ecclesiastes 5:15 As he came from his mother's womb, naked shall he return, To go as he came; And he shall take nothing from his labor Which he may carry away in his hand.

 

It is important that we donít make our money or our material things our treasure because our true treasure is heaven, as Jesus said:

 

Matthew 6:19 " Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;20 "but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.21 "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

 

This is why Paul gave some specific instructions to those who were wealthy in:

 

1 Timothy 6:17 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share,19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.††

 

When we consider the temporary nature of money and remember that heaven is our true treasure it will make it much easier for us to give of our means and to give with joy knowing that w will inherit the wonderful blessing of heaven one day.

 

 

Of course giving goes way beyond just giving of our money because as Christians we will learn to give of ourselves. We will be encouraged to be better givers by learning from the examples of those that gave in the Bible.

 

Jesus is the greatest example of someone giving of themselves, because He gave all of Himself including His life for us. Paul says:

 

2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.

 

Jesus loved us so much that He was willing to give up His riches so that we could be rich. No one can out give God, but He is our example. Since God was willing to give His Son to us, we need to ask ourselves what are willing to give back?

 

There are certainly many others just like us in the Bible that we can read about that will inspire us to be better givers.

 

For example:

 

  • Jesusí disciples were willing to give up their occupations to devote themselves completely to following Jesus (Mk. 1: 16-20; 10:28).
  • When Zacchaeus owned up to his sinful behavior and changed his ways, he ended up becoming a great giver as he gave half of his money to the poor (Lk. 19:8).
  • Who can forget the poor widow lady who only had two mites to her name, yet she gave it all to the Lord (Lk. 21:1-4).
  • When we read about how the Christians in Jerusalem shared all they had with each other so that no one was lacking (Acts 4:34-35) it will encourage us to be willing to share what we have when the occasion calls for it.
  • Barnabas sold his land and gave all the money to the church (Acts 4:36-37).

 

The last example I want to share is about the churches of Macedonia. We read about them in:

 

2 Corinthians 8:1 Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia:2 that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality.3 For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing,4 imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.5 And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.

 

Looking at examples like these will help us to find more joy in giving, and it will certainly help us to get the most out of giving of our money and giving of ourselves.

 

As we have seen in this lesson, giving of our money is an important part of our worship to God, and we are to give cheerfully as we have purposed in our heart. Our money helps the work of Godís kingdom, and we should never make our money our treasure because our treasure is in heaven. We have learned that we should also give of ourselves and we can be encouraged to do so by following the example of Christ and other Christians from the first century. As Jesus said, it is more blessed to give than it is to receive.