James Sanders
Greencastle, Indiana

Giving has always been a topic of controversy for those who fail to give as they have prospered. The Scriptures, however, frequently speak of the goods of this world and their proper use. Someone has estimated that nearly one-half of the recorded words of Jesus deal with material possessions or stewardship. "Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth" is a lesson men will always need to learn! (Cf. Lk. 12:15).

David said, "Neither win I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing" (2 Sam 24:24). Thus a sharp distinction should be made between an offering which costs nothing and a true sacrifice which God will accept. While it is true that offering and sacrifice are often used interchangeably in the Old Testament to describe the same act of worship, the type of offering was specified! It had to meet certain requirements! Only the highest quality (without blemish) could be given and every offering had to cost the giver something. (Cf. Ex. 12:15; 13:2; Dent 26.2). Therefore, every offering a Jew gave was a sacrifice in the fullest sense of the term.

And so it is today. God still only accepts the best a man has! (Cf. 2 Cor. 8:12). All giving must be sacrificial and the poverty stricken churches of Macedonia are classic examples of this. Paul testified "that according to their ability, and beyond their ability they gave of their own accord" (2 Cor. 8:3 NASV). The Macedonians had sacrificed to give! But the Apostle continues and relates the why behind their action: "they ... first gave their own selves to the Lord" (2 Cor. 8:5). Herein lies the secret to true giving -- seeking first the kingdom of God. (Cf. Matt. 6:33). The Macedonian brethren sacrificed because they had first sought the Lord. "Go and do thou likewise" U. 10: 37). Let none be guilty of offering unto the Lord that which has cost nothing!

November 18, 1971