Giving is meaningless unless you have first had a Fresh Start with God.
First and foremost, God wants us to give because it shows that we recognize he is truly the Lord of our lives.
- James 1:17
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.(NIV)
Everything we own, everything we have comes from God. So when we give, we simply offer him a very small portion of all the abundance he has already given to us. Giving is an expression of our thankfulness and praise to God! It comes from a heart of worship. For everything we give already belongs to him!
God instructed Old Testament believers to give a tithe, or a tenth, because this 10% represented the first, or most important portion of all that they had. The New Testament does not suggest a certain percentage for giving, but simply says for each to give “in keeping with his income.”
Believers should give according to their income.
- 1 Corinthians 16:2
On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.(NIV)
Note that the offering was set aside on the first day of the week. When we are willing to offer the first portion of our wealth back to him, then God knows he has our hearts. He knows—and we also know—that we are submitted completely in trust and obedience to our Lord and Savior.
We are blessed when we give.
- Acts 20:35
… remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’(NIV)
God wants us to give because he knows how blessed we will be as we give generously to him and to others. Giving is a kingdom principle; giving brings even more blessing to the giver than to the recipient.
When we give freely to God, we receive freely from God.
- Luke 6:38
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.(NIV)Proverbs 11:24
One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. (NIV)
God promises that we will be blessed over and above that which we give and also according to the measure that we use to give. But if we hold back from giving with a stingy heart, we hinder God from blessing our lives.
Believers should seek God, and not a legalistic rule, about how much to give.
- 2 Corinthians 9:7
Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.(NIV)
Giving is meant to be a joyful expression of thanks to God from the heart, and not a legalistic obligation.
The value of our offering is not determined by how much we give, but how we give.
- Mark 12:41-44
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”(NIV)
I see at least 3 important things about giving in this story of the widow’s offering:
- God values our offerings differently than men do.In God’s eyes, the value of the offering is not determined by the amount of the offering. The text says that the wealthy gave large amounts, but the widow’s offering was of much higher value because she gave all that she had. It was a costly sacrifice. Note that Jesus did not say she put in more than any of the others, he said she put in more than all the others.
- Our attitude in giving is what is most important to God.The text says Jesus “watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury.” Jesus observed the people as they gave their offerings, and he watches us today as we give. If we give to be seen by men or with a stingy heart toward God, our offering loses its value. Verse 41 says the rich threw in their offerings, further indicating that they gave carelessly with no thought. The widow carefully put in her offering. Jesus is more interested and impressed by how we give than what we give.We see this same principle in the story of Cain and Abel. God evaluated Cain and Abel’s offerings. Abel’s offering was pleasing in God’s eyes, but he rejected Cain’s. Rather than giving to God out of thankfulness and worship, Cain may have presented his offering with evil or selfish intentions. Maybe he had hoped to receive some special recognition. No matter what, Cain knew what was the right thing to do, but he didn’t do it. God even gave Cain an opportunity to make things right, but he chose not to.This illustrates again that God watches what and how we give. God not only cares about the quality of our gifts to him, but also the manner in which we offer them.
- God doesn’t want us to be overly concerned with how our offering is spent.At the time Jesus observed this widow’s offering, the temple treasury was no doubt being managed by the corrupt religious leaders of that day. But Jesus did not mention anywhere in this story that the widow should not have given to the temple.
Although we should do what we can to ensure that the churches and ministries we give to are good stewards of God’s money, we can’t always know for certain that the money we give will be spent correctly. We should not be overly burdened with this concern. Nor should we use this as an excuse not to give.
It’s important for us to find a good church that is wisely managing its financial resources for God’s glory and for the growth of God’s kingdom. But once we give to God, we don’t need to worry about what happens to the money. This is God’s problem to resolve. If a church leader or ministry misuses its funds, God knows how to deal with it.
We rob God when we fail to give offerings to him.
- Malachi 3:8
Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ In tithes and offerings.(NIV)
This verse speaks for itself, don’t you think?
The picture of our financial giving simply reveals a reflection of our lives surrendered to God.
- Romans 12:1
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.(NIV)
When we truly recognize all that Christ has done for us, we will want to offer ourselves wholly to God as a living sacrifice of worship to him. Our offerings will flow freely from a heart of gratitude.