1“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 3But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.
It seems that the topic of giving is one of the most volatile issues to discuss in the church. On the one hand, there are TV evangelists who have squeezed last pennies from aged, penniless widows in the name of God. On the other hand, you have Christians who sing, “I surrender all”, but their ‘all’ excludes their wallets! Let me say it simply, giving is an act of worship. If you claim to be a worshiper of God but your giving to Him is stingy at best, then something vital in your worship is missing. Remember this basic truth, giving is an expression of worship to God, for His glory and for the advancement of His kingdom.
Let me share with you some of the basics of giving:
1. IMITATING GOD: We give because we imitate God as His beloved children (Ephesians 5:1) and God gave in abundance when He gave His Son for us (John 3:16). Really, if we are walking in the Spirit and following the example of our Heavenly Father, there is no way for us to be stingy Christians. The child of God says, “God you gave so much for me and for my deliverance, I want to follow your example and give to You for Your glory and for the deliverance of others.”
2. WORSHIP: Generous giving is an expression of worship. It is amazing how we will spend lavishly on luxury items we feel are justified and yet when it comes to God, He’s “lucky” if He gets the leftovers. A couple came to me after reviewing their year-end giving statement. They said when they saw the bottom line, they were horrified that their giving to God was so little. At that moment, they made a decision to give to God first, before money went anywhere else. Times were lean, but they believed this would honor God and that He would faithfully provide for their needs. So they gave, and God provided faithfully. The joy they had on their faces said it all. Mary of Bethany came to Jesus with the greatest financial possession that she owned. She was so overwhelmed with love for Him that she knew the best use of that possession was for it to be poured over the feet of her Maker and Savior. John remembered the moment 60 years later as He described the fragrance of that oil and how it filled the air. It was not simply the fragrance of oil, but the fragrance of worship and Mary’s generous giving motivated by her love for Jesus and her desire to worship Him (John 12:1-9).
3. STEWARDSHIP: Everything in your possession belongs to God. Giving is simply giving back to God what already belongs to Him. I think that this is one of the most liberating Biblical truths. When we realize that everything we have belongs to Him, our possessions are put into perspective. The fact is, we are stewards, not owners. He has given us everything that is in our care, and as stewards, our job is to use the material things He has placed in our care as He sees fit.
4. FAITH: Giving is an act of faith that liberates us from being possessed by our possessions. In Matthew 6:19-34, Jesus makes 3 points that can be summed up in a single sentence: Treasure God because there can only be One Master in your life, so put your trust and faith in Him and prioritize His kingdom. Temporary possessions are not what the citizen of God’s Kingdom treasures. We treasure God, praying for His kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven. We trust that as God directs us in our giving, and as we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, He will faithfully meet every single need that we may have.
5. INCREASE: You cannot out-give God. God promises throughout the Scriptures that as we use our resources for His kingdom and His glory, He will bless us with more. It is important in this instance to make sure that our giving is not simply motivated to get more for ourselves, but to give more to God. Nevertheless, God Himself says, “Test me in this matter” (Malachi 3:10). Paul says in 2 Corinthians 9:6-11 that He who sows sparingly will reap sparingly but He who sows abundantly will reap abundantly. God loves a cheerful giver.