December 11, 2017

The Grace of Giving

By Mike Willis

The ability to give of our means is a "grace" that God has provided us (2 Cor. 8:7). Jesus said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35). That is true for several reasons. The person who receives is obviously in need. He has suffered want and need. In contrast, the person who gives has been prospered. Furthermore, the person who receives may feel humiliated by his circumstances, in spite of every effort on the part of those who help him not to make him feel that way. We can easily see the truth in what Jesus spoke. Consequently, to be able to give is a grace to us from God. Let us notice some principles that should govern our giving:

1. We should first give ourselves. The Apostle Paul commended the Macedonians for their generous giving in spite of their deep poverty. He explained why they were so sacrificial in giving by saying, "And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God" (2 Cor. 8:5). Good givers are so generous and charitable because they first commit themselves to the Lord. Men like the Rich Young Ruler in Matthew 19:16-22 can never be generous givers because they love their wealth more than they love the Lord.

2. We should give as we are prospered. Paul wrote, "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come" (1 Cor. 16:1-2). As my prosperity increases, so should my giving. Some men who receive regular increases in salary never increase their giving. Some couples learned to give $10 a week many years ago, but even though their salary has been increased significantly since then, they still give their $10 a week. As our prosperity increases, so should our giving.

3. Our giving should be planned and purposed giving. Paul wrote, "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver" (2 Cor. 9:7). A person cannot give like the Bible directs if he does not plan his giving. He who waits until the collection basket is being passed to decide how much to give has not "purposed in his heart."

3. We should give freely, willingly, and cheerfully. Paul continued, "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver" (2 Cor. 9:7). Bible giving should be done without compulsion and cheerfully, not begrudging the money that one gives.

I once heard a brother say, "If you can't give but $1 cheerfully, it would be better to give that cheerfully than to give more and begrudge giving it." His statement surely emphasizes the need for cheerful giving, but there was more that needed to be said. I responded, "That may be so, but someone who is prospered abundantly and can only give $1 cheerfully, needs to work on the attitude of his heart." Years have passed and I may not have remembered every word perfectly, but this was the gist of our Bible class discussion. We need to be careful not to excuse ourselves from sacrificial giving by an emphasis on cheerful giving. The two are not contradictory to each other. Both are principles about giving that a Christian needs to learn.

4. We should give sacrificially. The poor widow who gave two mites displays the spirit of sacrificial giving. The text records:

And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had (Luke 21:1-4).

Most all of us more nearly resemble the rich who gave from their abundance than the poor widow who gave of her necessity.

5. We should give bountifully. Paul wrote, "He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully" (2 Cor. 9:6). As Christians we should be trying to give just as much as we can afford. The reason for this is revealed: our giving is compared to planting seed (sowing). The more seed that is planted, the more grain will be harvested. The Indiana farmers do not begrudge planting seed. They plant the seed close together and pour on the fertilize; they know that the more seed that is planted means more bushels of corn that will be reaped.

A tight-fisted giver has lost his perspective of the true values of life. While clinging to his material possessions, he is not generous with the Lord and his work. Therefore, he gives sparingly, using what he has been prospered by the grace of God for his selfish pleasures. By so doing, he values the things that money can provide in this world over the things that our giving provides for us spiritually (here and hereafter).

6. We should give regularly. Paul said, "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come" (1 Cor. 16:2). As regularly as a man is prospered he should give. The collection is to be taken on the first day of the week. The beauty of the Lord's plan can be seen in the following examples. Look at the chart below and see the beauty of God's plan.

Amount Given Amount Given @ 52 weeks

Per Week per year for 50 years

$ 10 $26,000

$ 20 $52,000

$ 30 $78,000

$ 40 $104,000

$ 50 $130,000

$100 $260,000

Few of us would ever be able and willing to write a check for $26,000 to the Lord's work. By doing the Lord's will, many of us will give significantly more than that over a lifetime. The next time you read of some benevolent philanthropist who donates $100,000 to higher education, remember that you very well may do that and more by your regular contributions to the Lord's work. The Lord's plan will work. Men who turn to bingo, casino nights, church owned businesses, and other forms of generating income to raise funds for the church have lost faith in God's plan.

Conclusion

Perhaps this is a good time for you to examine how well you are doing in giving to support the Lord's work. Don't wait until the collection basket is passed on Lord's day. If you need to make some changes in how you spend your money in order to support the Lord's work, begin to make those changes. You will never regret what you contribute to the Lord's work.

Guardian of Truth XXXVIII: 21, p. 2
November 3, 1994

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