Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of articles on giving in the Church. This article is modified from a live teaching done in our local bible study in Louisville. We thought that this teaching would be a great way to start this series. This article describes the great importance and benefit of giving–these fundamental ideas will carry throughout the series. We will be covering giving in the Old Testament and Gospels, Post-Pentecost giving, and the attitude of giving in future articles.
This is a teaching which is both very important for all and exciting for me—“giving.” This teaching will not be about tithing, obligations to give, or a prosperity or poverty gospel. We’re going to first establish an incredibly important understanding as our foundation on this subject. We will then explore where our hearts should be, the effects and rewards for giving, followed by a challenge to all of us.
To start, please turn to 1 Chronicles 29. As with everything else, to have the right attitude and understanding of giving, we have to build the right foundation. This chapter was really cool, and opens the window to the hearts of David and his people, so please go back and read the full account. This is talking about building the First Temple, known as Solomon’s Temple. It is called Solomon’s Temple because it was built by Solomon after David’s passing. In this account, David is collecting the resources for it, and we’ll pick up after the people have given an enormous amount in verse 9.
I Chronicles 29:9-14 (ESV)
Then the people rejoiced because they had given willingly, for with a whole heart they had offered freely to the Lord. David the king also rejoiced greatly.
Therefore David blessed the Lord in the presence of all the assembly. And David said: “Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever.
Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.
Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.
And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.
“But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.
Look, when we begin with an honest realization that it’s all God’s, and all good things come from God, it makes giving far easier. This puts giving into perspective, right?
If you read the full record, you’ll notice the main contributors were those in high-ranking positions who were (presumably) wealthy. So what about those with a lower social status? Does God provide an example in the scripture for them to follow? You bet. Look at Mark 12:41-44.
Mark 12:41-44 (ESV)
And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums.
And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny.
And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box.
For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”
Now as I said, the purpose of this is not to preach a poverty gospel, so don’t be confused. God doesn’t want us to be in poverty. However, we can all say “No” to buying a few more things, and decide to give more. Giving is not the luxury of the rich; it is the privilege of all. Furthermore, notice how God measures “more” and “less.” To God, the woman gave more than the wealthy men did because she gave all she had to live on. For God, giving is not about the amount that you give. Also notice that you cannot hide anything from God. He knows how much or how little we are giving and with what attitude. We cannot keep our finances private from God.
Let’s talk about how we give for a minute.
II Corinthians 9:6-7 (ESV)
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
It’s time to look at your time, talents/abilities, and treasures (finances) as seed. What do we use those for, and how much time do we put into giving back? Do we use our abilities to help as much as we can? Are we financially generous? We plant based on what we want to yield. And the great thing is that with God there’s always more impact than simply what we put in. Like when you properly plant an apple seed, you get a tree that provides many apples, not just one apple or one seed. However, if you just keep it to yourself, that’s all you have. God multiples what we give.
Ephesians 4:28 (ESV)
Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.
We work for things that are good, that we may give. We should really earnestly seek opportunities to give, and I’m going to tell you why.
1 John 3:17 (ESV)
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?
Are we Christ-like? This is something we must consider as we reflect on our hearts and our actions. When we have the opportunity and the ability to take care of our brothers and sisters in Christ, and we choose not to, we are sinning.
Deuteronomy 15: 7-11 (ESV)
“If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother,
but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be.
Take care lest there be an unworthy thought in your heart and you say, ‘The seventh year, the year of release is near,’ and your eye look grudgingly on your poor brother, and you give him nothing, and he cry to the Lord against you, and you be guilty of sin.
You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake.
For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’
Give freely and ungrudgingly, and then the Lord does what? He will bless you in all your work and all that you undertake! And once again, it is sin to see your brother in need and do nothing. Also interesting to note here that this is the section that Jesus quoted in the following verses: Matthew 26:11, Mark 14:7, and John 12:8. Remarkably, these verses have been used at times to justify NOT giving to the poor! Just because the poor will always be with us does not mean that we are not supposed to help them financially. In fact, the opposite is true.
Proverbs 19:17 (ESV)
Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he [the LORD] will repay him for his deed.
When we are generous to the poor, you lend to the Lord. Do you think God pays back His people? Of course He does! So we don’t have concern that giving means having less, right? Since we have the right attitude, let’s see more specifically how to give.
Romans 12:8 (ESV)
the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
Romans 12:8 says that the one who gives is supposed to do so “in generosity.” “Generosity” is the Greek word: haplotes, which means “simplicity, singularity.”
To drive that home, let’s look at Luke 11:34:
Luke 11:34 (ESV)
Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy [haplous], your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness.
Look at Matthew 6:22-23.
Matthew 6:22-23 (ESV)
“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy [haplous], your whole body will be full of light,
but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
We should have a singular focus on God that is pure and unwavering. Healthy is the Greek word haplous – simple, single. Bad is the Greek word ponēros – diseased, blind, evil.
In Matthew 6, we also learn that a man cannot serve two masters. Our choices are the true God and mammon, which is money or wealth. We have to make the decision. Are we going to choose God, or greed?
1 Timothy 6:17-19 (ESV)
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.
God’s the One Who is providing us with everything. So what do we have to lose in giving? Especially if we are prosperous financially, we should be liberal in giving.
Here is the effect of us giving according to God’s desires:
Psalm 37:25-26 (ESV)
I have been young, and now am old,
yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
or his children begging for bread.
He is ever lending generously,
and his children become a blessing.
There are many uncertainties in this world, but we can be certain that God’s righteous people will have their needs met. God always takes care of his kids, and that is something we can truly be confident in.
Proverbs 11:24-25 (ESV)
One gives freely, yet grows all the richer;
another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.
Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
and one who waters will himself be watered.
Finally, what is the effect on others when we give? What we give to them might fulfill their needs, so they are being taken care of, they are uplifted, and then what might they do? They might respond by thanking God! Our generosity will cause people to thank God. Giving connects us to people, gives us opportunities to speak the Word, and it causes people to say, “Thank you for God for sending this person to take care of this! God, You are so good and faithful!” Don’t you want people to thank God on account of your generosity? And what about God’s perspective on this? God rejoices when we take care of his kids. He says, “Thank you for taking care of My child’s need and bringing him/her closer to Me. What did you spend? Here, take extra.”
My challenge to you is this, in the next week ask God to help you find a person, group, or organization to whom you are happy to contribute. It can be time, talents, treasures, or a combination, but give what you are cheerful and excited to give. Trust that God totally has your back here and make sure to maintain that haplotes, the simplicity in giving and the singular focus in doing so. God Bless.