The Grace Of Giving
“And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And He called unto Him His disciples, and saith unto them, ‘Verily I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: for all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.’” Mark 12:41-44 KJV
What an example! In the estimation of the Lord Jesus, this poor widow cast in more than all the rest – for she gave everything she had. The Savior Himself was about to give His all at the cross. How the giving of this dear woman must have cheered His own heart! We do not know her name, but like another unnamed woman who anointed the Lord (Mt. 26:6-13), this widow’s deed will never be forgotten. Her act of generosity is preserved forever on the pages of Holy Scripture.
The verses quoted above, and other passages of Scripture, give us five important principles to keep in mind as we consider the subject of giving.
The first thing we must bear in mind is that giving is a responsibility. If we are believers, we must recognize that we belong to the Lord. He has purchased us with His own precious blood. We belong to Him for time and for eternity. If, as a person, I belong to Him, then it follows that all my possessions are really His too.
The believers in Macedonia during Paul’s ministry were very much like the widow we have just read about. Although they were materially poor, and were experiencing “deep poverty,” they gladly gave a gift to the Lord’s work. What delighted Paul’s heart was that before giving a gift, they first gave themselves to the Lord (2 Cor. 8:1-5).
Centuries before, David the king had made preparation for the building of the temple at Jerusalem. Realizing that others could be involved, he challenged the people: “Who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the Lord?” (1 Chr. 29:5). The leaders not only responded positively by giving themselves but also gave materially for the work of building the temple (1 Chr. 29:6-7).
Paul’s purpose in reminding the Corinthians of what the believers in Macedonia had done was to stir them into action. They appeared to abound in many Christian graces; therefore, thinking of giving, he urged them to “see that ye abound in this grace also” (2 Cor. 8:7). If we have experienced God’s grace in our own salvation, we have a responsibility to share in the grace of giving.
2. SECRET GIVING
“Abound in this grace also,” Paul wrote. But he did not mean that the Corinthians were to make a public display of their giving. Giving to the Lord is to be secret. Our Lord taught this in Matthew 6:1-4. It is the hypocrites, He said, who “sound a trumpet” when they give. Those who want others to know how generous they have been, already “have their reward” in the sense that men speak highly of them now. When they stand before God, however, there will be no further reward for them. The utter secrecy of giving is seen in these words: “Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.” Do not give others any idea of how much you place in the church offering box. If you are able to support the Lord’s work or His servants anonymously, do so. No person on earth may be aware of what you are doing, but your Heavenly Father who sees in secret knows what you have done – and that’s all that really matters.
Giving is not to be haphazard, or just when we feel like it. Paul told the Corinthians that they abounded in love (2 Cor. 8:7). Clearly this was not something spasmodic, but rather it was seen all the time. In the same way, abounding in the grace of giving can only mean being regular. This had been clearly taught in Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians where the following principle was laid down: “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” (1 Cor. 16:2 nkjv). Incidentally, this verse emphasizes again the individual responsibility for “each one” to give. Of course, special needs that call for extra giving may arise from time to time. We have an instance of this in the New Testament when a particular circumstance resulted in some of God’s people giving in order to help others who were in need (Acts 11:27-30). This, however, does not negate the principle of regularity. Each week, or whenever you receive income, set aside a certain proportion as money for the Lord.
The principle of regularity leads us naturally to consider a further point. Giving is to be proportionate: “As God hath prospered him” ( 1 Cor. 16:2 kjv). We find in this verse an echo of the Old Testament law where God’s people were to give “according to the blessing of the Lord thy God which He hath given thee” (Dt. 16:17). If the Lord blesses an individual materially, that person is responsible to give more to Him.
In considering the subject of giving, the question is often asked whether tithing (giving a tenth to the Lord) is something that should be practiced today. To give a full and proper answer to this question would take us far beyond the scope of this article. Many Christians who tithe would defend the practice as helpful for it enables them to give a definite proportion of their income to the Lord. Having committed themselves to the principle of giving the Lord His portion, they would tell you that the Lord has faithfully met all their needs. Others maintain that tithing is an Old Testament practice that does not apply today. It must, of course, be noted that some find it convenient to “write off” tithing as an Old Testament practice because it provides them with an excuse not to give as much as a tenth of their income to the Lord.
We need to challenge ourselves seriously at this point, and perhaps the question about tithing should be changed. Instead of asking whether I should give the Lord a tenth, perhaps I should be asking how much money I should keep for myself. Often we are guilty of storing away vast cash reserves that will all be left behind one day. Many of God’s people in the wealthier nations of the world today could afford to give far more than a tenth. Some perhaps could even afford to live on the tithe and give the remaining nine tenths to the Lord.
There is one other principle connected with proportionate giving, and it is the principle of liberality. Giving is not to be stingy, nor is it to be done out of compulsion: “Let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). The Greek word for “cheerful” used here, gives us the English word “hilarious.” It speaks of a joyfulness that is ready to do anything. There is no reluctance. Is this not how God Himself gives? “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32). Again, we find loving and giving closely connected. Our giving to God flows from our love for God. It is to be done joyfully.
Think again of the widow giving her “two mites.” She only had two small coins, and could have kept one of them for her own needs. She was poor. As a widow, who would provide for her? To give one coin, in her circumstances, would have been very generous – but she gave both of them. What an example of liberality – holding nothing back!
SITTING BY THE TREASURY
The One who sat opposite the treasury still sits there. Our Lord and Master weighs our purses. Which book has the greatest authority in your life – God’s book, the Bible, or your own bank book? Consider again the One who gave His all for us. Let us gladly spend and be spent for Him to whom we owe everything.
What about our giving? Let’s remember Paul’s exhortation: “See that ye abound in this grace also” (2 Cor. 8:7).
By Martin Girard
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org