A Basic Understanding Of Giving
Learning to give is one of the most important steps in our spiritual growth. Sin has made us basically self centered and because of this it is natural to be selfish. We want to get as much material wealth as we can and we want to keep it as long as possible.
We live in a world that is filled with material needs. And we quickly realize that the more money we have the less likely it is that we will be caught in a dire need.
But God wants us to learn to trust Him for all our needs on a daily basis, and as long as we look to the material wealth of the world and what we can get there it is difficult to do this. So God has given us a simple way to break our selfishness and self centeredness and at the same time assure that all our needs will be met by Him.
God says in 2 Corinthians 9:7-8, “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:”
God has given to us the gift of giving as the means to honor Him and to insure that we will never go lacking in that which we truly need.
Ultimately, God wants us to give Him our hearts- that is to make a total surrender to Him. Romans 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present you bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”
Often, for us to really give ourselves to the Lord, we must begin with our material things. Matthew 6:19-21, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
As we begin giving our material things to the Lord our hearts grow closer to Him. If we continue sincerely, we will then give ourselves fully to Him.
There are over 2,000 verses in the Bible that deal with money and possessions. This is five times more space than is given to prayer and faith as only 500 plus verses are given for those important subjects. More is said in the New Testament about money than about Heaven and Hell.
The Bible has a great deal to say on the subject of material things. Sixteen of the Lord’s 38 parables deal with this and make it very clear that Christians are stewards of the things of God.
A steward is a manager of someone else’s property. Christians are managers of God’s property and as stewards will be called upon to give an account of that stewardship. Romans 14:12, “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” God will require a detailed account of our management of His property.
It is very important that we manage His things the way He wants it done so that we will not be ashamed when we give that accounting.
To prepare ourselves to correctly manage for God we need to accept the fact that God owns everything; we need to learn the true value of money and its basic purpose for the Christian; and we need to learn God’s instruction concerning that money.
Learn that God owns everything.
Psalm 24:1-2, “The earth is the LORD’S, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.”
God owns everything by creative right. Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Colossians 1:16-17, “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”
The earth belongs to God; the people belong to God; the animals belong to God; the material wealth belongs to God. Everything belongs to Him because He created it and sustains it. He entrusts certain parts of it to us to manage.
Learn the value of money.
The Lord gives some very important instructions concerning money in Luke 16:9-13, “And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
We learn that money is the “mammon of unrightousness.” It is the least of all riches, but it is the test of our stewardship. If we are faithful with money, which is God’s, He will commit to our trust true riches.
Money is the least of all riches, it is not true riches. We also learn that we are either serving money, or we are serving God. Jesus tells us that it is impossible to serve both, and makes it clear that there are no other choices.
I Timothy 6:7-10 gives further insight, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
It is natural to love money because of the things it can acquire for us. However, if you love money you will allow it to be your master. It will lead you into temptation and snares and into foolish and hurtful lusts. It can drown you in destruction and perdition. It can cause all manner of evil, covetousness and envy; cheating and robbery; fornication and adultery; assault and murder.
There is a definite need for money, especially in our culture today. And it is not wrong to have money, even large amounts of it, as long as it does not have you. But in order to avoid the snares and serious trouble that money can cause, we must learn to manage it the way God instructs.
Learn God’s plan.
God’s plan for money management begins with tithing. This is a basic principle that was taught before the law was given. It was commanded under the law and was not changed after the law. God commands His people to tithe.
In the last book of the Old Testament the Lord gives instruction and promise concerning tithing. Malachi 3:6-10, “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return? 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, even this whole nation. 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 you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts.”
The tithe is one tenth of your increase or income.
For the beginner, this may seem like a tremendous amount and sometimes seem impossible because of all the other expenses you are trying to meet. This is why God allows you to test Him in the tithe. He then makes the 90% do more than the 100% could ever do without His blessing.
The tithe is holy unto the Lord.
God says that it is holy unto Him (Leviticus 27:30) and that it brings a curse upon you when you steal it to use it for something else.
The tithe is the first tenth of your income.
It is not to be used for taxes; for food; for rent or house payments; for doctor bills; or any other expense. It belongs to God and He commands that it be brought into His storehouse. Under the law that was the temple. During the church age the storehouse is your local church where God assigns you to serve.
The tithe recognizes God’s ownership and our stewardship of His property.
The first mention of tithing is found in Genesis 14:18-20. “…And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.” Abraham recognized that God was possessor of heaven and earth by giving tithes of all that he had gained.
The tithe proves our honesty toward God.
Remember, if you are faithful in that which is least you will be faithful in much. If you are not faithful in that which is least, who will commit to your trust the true riches? Learn to tithe and be faithful in it.
God allows you to test or prove Him in this and He promises to pour you out a blessing that you will not be able to hold. He also promises to rebuke the devourer so that things can go well for you. Financial situations definitely improve as you begin to be faithful with God’s tithe. You soon discover that you can do more with the ninety percent of your income than you ever could do with the one hundred percent without God’s blessing.
As you learn to tithe and begin to grow in your faith God will allow you to enter into grace giving. This is taught in 2 Corinthians 8-10. 2 Corinthians 9:6-8, “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:” The essence here is cheerful giving. God loves a cheerful giver.
Cheerful giving goes beyond the tithe. It is purposed in the heart. It is done with willingness and without necessity. Chapter 8 verse 8 teaches, “I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.”
It is not commanded but is an opportunity to prove your love to Christ. This is God’s plan for financing world evangelism outside the area of your local church. By faith you can purpose to give a certain amount each month to God through you local church for the purpose of supporting missionaries. These missionaries then carry the gospel to the regions beyond where you cannot personally go yourself.
If you are a child of God, you are wealthy beyond imagination. You need not worry yourself about the riches of this world. You need only be concerned with managing your Father’s property which He has entrusted to your care. This consists of your body, your life, your skills and abilities, your mind, and all the possessions you have.