Giving God's Way
Did you ever think about the fact that there are right and wrong ways to give? Let’s take a look at what the Bible says about giving in a way that pleases God.
Just as in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus went to the heart of the law, so, too, as we review New Testament directives for giving, we find that they are based far more on heart attitude than on legalistic measurements. A brief study of Paul’s teaching to the church at Corinth gives us a synopsis of God-ordained giving for us today.
Giving is about relationships.
1. Biblical giving begins with relationship with God.
We are told to give our resources to God only after we have given ourselves to him (2 Corinthians 8:5). Ultimately God wants us, not our money. But when we have given ourselves to him, our money, time, skills, and possessions will naturally follow.
2. We are to use God’s provision for us as a measure of our giving (2 Corinthians 8:3 and 8:12).
We give from what God has already given us, not for what we hope he will send our way. The amount will be individual for each of us and decided upon after prayer and listening for God’s direction.
3. We are to give with the right attitude.
Paul teaches we are to give cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:7) and thankfully (2 Corinthians 9:11-12). Giving is a positive experience for Christians, not a ritualistic obligation.
4. How much should we give?
Paul doesn’t specify a percentage. Instead he says we should give sacrificially (2 Corinthians 8:3) and generously (2 Corinthians 9:6). Actually, this is pretty hard to do. Maybe we would prefer that Paul would have given us a number, so we could measure an amount, put it in the offering, and go away feeling we have fulfilled our monetary duty to God. Instead, the giving Paul teaches focuses on relationship with God and with the people around us. This kind of giving requires that we be sensitive to the leading of the Spirit, obeying him when he directs us to give.
5. Biblical giving begins and ends with relationship with God.
In some ways, it all goes back to the first point above: God’s relationship with us is more important than anything. He wants to direct our thinking, soften our hearts, and give us opportunity to talk these financial decisions over with him. When we do that, we are entering into the intimate one-on-one relationship he’s looking for with each of us. We will be choosing to serve him and not money. He will be pleased, and we will be blessed. It’s about something far more important than writing a check!
Giving is based on the generosity principle.
Let’s briefly explore two thoughts on God’s concept of generosity, a teaching we find all through the Bible.
1. Our best example of generosity is God himself.
He gives us the gifts of creation to enjoy. And those gifts are lavish! You’ll agree if you look at the sky, stars, mountains, rivers, insects, birds, animals of all kinds, molecular structures, flowers – all of it extravagant and generous in color, design, and scope. We see this in 1 Timothy 6:17 which says that well-to-do people should “put their hope in God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” In the next verse, Paul tells Timothy to command the wealthy “to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.” In other words, we are to treat others with the same attitude of generosity that God has treated us. He has given to us freely, richly, and fully. If we are to imitate God, we must be generous, too.
2. There are rewards for generosity.
The wisdom writers tell us, “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshed others will himself be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25). Money is only one measure of our generosity. The biblical concept of living generously includes extending hospitality, giving our time, offering sympathy to those who grieve, and tending to the needs of those who suffer. In other words, we generously give of ourselves including time, energy, compassion, wisdom, and resources.
Note the promise in the verse cited above. There is no person who does not, at some time in his or her life, face difficulties. If we practice generosity toward others when we are strong, they will, in turn, refresh us with their generosity when we are in need. Getting back is not the driving motivation for our giving, but, in the real world, the wisdom writers tell us blessing comes to those who give.
The sum of the matter
We must give. How we do it reflects our walk with God. Is our giving grudging or cheerful? Is it stingy or generous? What we have is not ours to keep. It is ours to use, to steward, and to give. When we do it God’s way, we are blessed beyond anything we can measure in dollars and cents.