HOW DOES OUR GIVING AFFECT OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD?
These are difficult financial times. Many have lost jobs and others are only doing part time work. Prices are on the increase on many things. Yet our money has a great deal to do with our relationship with God. How we acquire our money and what we do with it once it is in our hands is a vital part of our daily Christian living. Christianity is a giving religion. Those who have trusted in God are blessed as they honor Him through giving. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones. Honor the Lord with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase; So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine." (Proverbs 3:5-10) Hear again the words of God; "Honor the Lord with your possessions."
Our giving shows who or what has priority in our life? In life priority is given either to God or it is given to material things. Jesus said, "No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." (Luke 16:13) Mammon is a word that means "riches" or "treasure." It is also used as a word for "money." Often, mammon is regarded as material wealth and it is thought to have an evil influence. Christians must never allow their possessions to possess them. It is frightening when we realize how many are actually controlled by a desire for things. This desire is covetousness. Jesus said, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” (Luke 12:15)
J.W. McGarvey makes this comment about covetousness: "When I read through the New Testament, I find that the sin of covetousness or stinginess is more frequently held up to condemnation by the Lord Jesus and the apostles, and dealt with in severer and more terrific terms, than any other sin in the whole category. Indeed a covetous man is more unlike Christ than any other wicked man in the world. I verily believe that the covetous man is the most wicked of men in God's sight. He is called an idolater. Paul says, 'No covetous man shall inherit the kingdom of God.' If a man is doggedly unwilling, and persistently and determinedly refuses to give to the treasury of the church of which he is a member, that man is just as certainly a covetous man as he lives...O, let us follow that precept of Paul, brief, but full of power FLEE COVETOUSNESS."
Our giving shows whether we look at our possessions as stewardship or ownership? The things in our hands or our possessions are there as a matter of stewardship not ownership. A man's view toward possession is a good indication of where his heart lies. The following verses teach God's ownership and our stewardship in relationship to things:
(Psalm 24:1) "The earth is the Lord's, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein."
(Psalms 50:10) "For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills."
(Haggai 2:8) "The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine, says the Lord of hosts."
Wisdom in stewardship comes from understanding that God is the owner of all things. Our giving will never be what it ought to be until we have a scriptural view of God's ownership of all things.
Our giving shows our desire for fellowship among God's people: Christian giving produces fellowship among Christians. "Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common." (Acts 4:32) Giving that is done from the heart brings brethren together.
Our giving shows our love for God and others: God loved and He gave. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) Paul challenged the Corinthians to prove the sincerity of their love by their giving. “Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also. I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.” (2 Corinthians 8:7-8)
Christ's love caused Him to give Himself as a sacrifice for our sins. (Ephesians 5:25) Christ's gift as a loving sacrifice for us should motivate our giving. "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich." (2 Corinthians 8:9) A proof of a Christian's love is seen in giving. Paul encouraged the Corinthian Christians to "show to them, and before the churches the proof of your love and of our boasting on your behalf." (2 Corinthians 8:24) You can size up a man's character pretty accurately by considering how he got his money and what he does with it once it is in his hand.
Our giving should show both purpose and prosperity: Planned giving pays. "So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians 9:7) Our giving is to be a free will offering done in a planned and cheerful way. Those that give bountifully to God receive His blessings. “He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.” (Proverbs 22:9) Often God pours out so many blessings that we cannot receive them all. Observe what He said to Israel, "...Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this, Says the Lord of hosts, If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it." (Malachi 3:8-10) Put God to the test and see if He meant what He said about giving!
Our giving shows whether our spirit is right or not: The right spirit in giving is a loving heart that is willing to sacrifice for the cause of Christ. David would not give that which cost him nothing. "Then the king said to Araunah, No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing. So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver." (2 Samuel 24:24) Good hearts committed to God lead to generous giving. The churches of Macedonia gave their money because they first gave themselves. (2 Corinthians 8:4-5) Giving is a grace in which every Christian should abound. "...See that you abound in this grace also." (2 Corinthians 8:7) Those that give with the right spirit are laying up treasures in heaven. "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21)
To become a Christian hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (Hebrews 11:6), repent of sins (2 Peter 3:9), confess Jesus before others (Acts 8:37), and be baptized into Christ. (Romans 6:3-4) As a Christian give as you have been prospered knowing that God will bless your generosity. What does your giving say about your Christian life? Do you give as God has prospered you? Does your giving prove that you love God?
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, P.O. Box 551, Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA