What Does The Bible Say About Giving?
The evidences of genuine and wholesome spirituality include not only regular daily Bible study, prayer without ceasing, intimate fellowship with the Lord, and prominence in serving the Lord, but also the right use of our money such as giving, buying, investing and saving. This major part of everyone’s life is seldom discussed in books or sermons. We shall examine practical reasons why giving of our possessions is a manifestation and responsibility of a truly spiritual life.
GIVING – A Spiritual Gift
In Romans 12, giving is included in a list of spiritual gifts: “He that giveth, let him do it with simplicity” (Rom. 12:8 KJV). A spiritual gift is a God-given ability for service to God and others. Although it is God who gives us spiritual gifts and empowers us for their use, the Christian is responsible to know, develop, and use his gifts.
The gift of giving is available to all believers, regardless of whether they are rich or poor. To give with simplicity means to give with pleasure and without expectation of gain or return. It also means “not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7).
GIVING – Likened To Fruit
In Romans 15:25-28 Paul takes a relief offering from the Macedonian church to the poor saints at Jerusalem. He describes the gift as fruit, “when therefore I have performed this, and I have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain” (Rom. 15:28).
The word “fruit” indicates that which is sweet to taste, delicious to eat, and nourishing to the body. Paul uses the word two more times to describe two other things in Romans: winning other souls to Christ (Rom. 1:13), and pursuing holiness (Rom. 6:22). Are these three kinds of fruit – giving, witnessing and pursuing holiness – hanging from the tree of your life everyday?
GIVING – Motivated By Grace
In 2 Corinthians 8, a key passage on giving, Paul repeatedly used the word “grace” when he referred to the gift from the Macedonian church (2 Cor. 8:1,6,7,l9). In addition, he wrote that “the grace of God was bestowed on the church of Macedonia” (2 Cor. 8:1), motivating them to send their aid. Moreover, Paul referred to “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 8:9), who died so that we might not live for ourselves but for Him and for others. We also read that the Macedonian believers “first gave their own selves to the Lord and unto us” (2 Cor. 8:5).
The Macedonian collection teaches us three lessons about grace. First, their motivation for the contribution was by God’s grace. Second, they gave as Jesus gave; He is always the preeminent example for the believer in every aspect. We give because he gave, not because he commanded us to do so. Third, when we first give ourselves to God, we have no problem giving our substance to God and others. Grace not only opens out hearts but also our wallets.
There is no substitute for grace-giving, and there is no excuse for not giving. “I teach a Sunday School class, so I don’t have to give” is an poor excuse. “I am poor; giving is for the rich” is another unacceptable excuse. The Macedonian believers were “in a great trial of affliction … and deep poverty” (2 Cor. 8:2), yet they did not use their difficult circumstances as an excuse for not giving. On the contrary, we read that their poverty “abounded unto the riches of their liberality.” When a believer starts to think of excuses for not giving, he automatically moves out of the sphere of grace-giving.
GIVING – Brings Blessing
Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Many Christians do not remember this “forgotten” beatitude of our Lord. Jesus also said, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; a good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom” (Lk. 6:38). The “good measure” which God gives back to us is not always money or material things, but it is always worth far more than what we give.
“Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase; so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine” (Prov. 3:9-10). What a clear passage to motivates us to give! We honor the Lord by giving to His work; in turn He honors us by showering us with His blessings. These verses tell us that in Old Testament times God promised to bless His people with temporal blessings if they obeyed His commands. In this age of grace, He blesses us with material things, spiritual things, or both.
“‘Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith,’ saith the Lord of Hosts, ‘if I will not open the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it’” (Mal. 3:10).
“There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that witholdeth more than is meet, but leadeth to poverty” (Prov. 11:24). This verse makes no sense to the unsaved, for it speaks about giving to the Lord. To “scatter” means to give, and “to increase” means to be blessed as a result. To “withhold” means not to give, but instead to keep all your money for yourself, forgetting that we owe 100% of what we are and what we have to God.
GIVING – Glorifies God
Second Corinthians 8 and 9 are key chapters on grace-giving. In both, Paul affirms that our grace-giving glorifies God. In chapter 8 he refers to giving as “this grace which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord” (2 Cor. 8:19). In chapter 9 Paul writes “Whilst by the experiment of this ministration (gift), they (the Macedonians) glorify God” (2 Cor. 9:13).
Thanksgiving to God is another result of the generosity of the Gentile churches in meeting the physical and material needs of grateful Jewish believers. “Bountiful” thanksgiving and “many thanksgivings” to God are mentioned in 2 Corinthians 9:11-12.
“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Mt. 6:10). Certainly our giving to the Lord is one of the good works referred to in this verse.
GIVING – Linked To Love
The Apostle John writes, “Whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” (1 Jn. 3:17). In this verse, John discloses a close link between our giving and our love for God. By full use of his money, the believer will prove or disprove his love for God. By giving money and goods to his needy brother, the Christian shows that he loves his brother and his God. If he fails to do so, then he shows that he loves neither his brother nor God. It is impossible to love God and ignore the needs of our poor neighbor.
GIVING – A Spiritual Sacrifice
There are two sacrifices connected with giving. The first sacrifice the Christian presents to God is Himself: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1). This is an act of dedication. Presenting our bodies is a single, total, irrevocable act of surrender of all of oneself for all of one’s life.
Dedication is the acknowledgement that I have been bought with the blood of the lamb, and am no longer my own. Hence, we read that the Macedonian believers “first gave their own selves to the Lord” (2 Cor. 8:5), surrendering themselves to His scepter, living for His glory, and yielding themselves to His government, as living sacrifices for His use.
The second sacrifice related to giving, which the Christian offers to God, is his substance: “To do good and to communicate forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Heb. 13:16). This involves ministering to others which is the sacrifice of love unto our needy fellows. “To do good” means to perform acts of beneficence by giving to the poor, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and relieving the distressed. “To communicate” means to share with our poor and afflicted brethren the blessings that Providence has conferred on us. A beautiful illustration of the giving of our substance is found in Philippians 4. The Philippian saints had sent a gift to Paul which be describes as “an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God” (Phil. 4:18).
GIVING – Lend To the Lord or Rob Him!
“He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord, and that which he hath given will He pay him back” (Prov. 19:17). Do we really believe this? The Lord allows none to lose by being generous, but repays him with interest one way or another, either to him or his posterity. “He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack, but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse” (Prov. 28:27). The selfish man who does not give brings himself under the providential curse of God.
“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, ‘Wherein have we robbed thee?’ In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse; for ye have robbed me” (Mal. 3:8-9) The word “rob” is mentioned four times in these two verses. Do we really believe this? Can we really rob the One who created us, who sustains us, and who gave us everything including His unspeakable gift – His own Son?
When we give willingly, graciously and bountifully, we become lenders to the One who owns the heavens and earth. But when we do not give, we rob God and put ourselves under His curse. What inducement, both positive and negative, to allow the grace of God to open our hearts and hands!
By Maurice Bassali
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org