The Grace of Giving


‘Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also. 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’, 2 Cor. 8. 6, 7.

Many of the words the Lord Jesus spoke during His life on earth are recorded in the four Gospels. There are only a few references to His words in other parts of the New Testament. One such reference is in Acts chapter 20 verse 35, ‘remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that he himself said, It is more blessed to give than to receive’ JND [my emphasis].

There are two things that every Christian, who is able, should do each Lord’s Day. One is to remember the Lord in the breaking of bread, ‘And upon the first day of the week… the disciples came together to break bread’, Acts 20. 7, and the second is, ‘Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him’, 1 Cor. 16. 2. This is referred to as ‘the collection for the saints’, v. 1. The command for both carries equal force.

In Philippians chapter 4, there is a fivefold view of a gift given by the assembly at Philippi to Paul.

  1. It demonstrated their care for him. ‘But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity’, v. 10. The gift sent by the Philippians to Paul in Rome by the hand of Epaphroditus was the tangible expression of their love and care for him. Paul rejoiced, not only to receive the gift, but to have the care of the Philippians for him reconfirmed. Previously, they had Tacked opportunity’, but now, with Epaphroditus as their messenger, they could fulfil what they had wanted to do for some time.
  2. It was useful to meet his present need, ‘[his] necessity’, v. 16.
  3. It was an act of fellowship and meant they had a part with Paul and his work for the Lord. ‘Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction’, v. 14. The word ‘communicate’ here means ‘to have fellowship’. When we send a gift to one of the Lord’s servants or to the Lord’s work, either individually or as an assembly, we have fellowship in the work and with the servant. They may work for the Lord in some distant place, which we may never visit, yet we can have part in that work as if we were there. For example, if the gift is towards the building of a meeting hall for the Lord’s people, we are actually putting bricks into the building, that is, having a part in the work, having fellowship.
  4. It ensured a rich reward for the Philippians by and by. ‘Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account’, v. 17. The apostle’s attitude was unselfish. His first thought was not about how useful the gift would be for him, but rather his desire was that the Philippians would be richly rewarded in a coming day. It is worth noting that their reward will far exceed the value of what they had given - fruit that may abound to their account. The gift depleted their account on earth, but it would substantially increase the balance of their account in heaven.
  5. It brought pleasure to God. ‘I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God’, v. 18. This is the highest aspect of the gift given by the Philippians to Paul.

In verse 16, Paul speaks of ‘my necessity’, his need. In verse 19, he speaks of ‘your need’, the Philippians’ need. When their coffers were depleted by their gift to Paul, God was able to fill them again from His unlimited resources. ‘But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus’, v. 19. ‘But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased’, Heb. 13. 16.

In the New Testament, there are two great chapters dealing with the subject of giving, 2 Cor. 8, 9. The teaching of chapter 8 is against the background of what Christ has given, ‘For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich’, v. 9. The teaching of chapter 9 is against the background of what God has given, ‘Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift’, v. 15.

The prerequisite for giving

The Macedonians ‘first gave their own selves to the Lord’, 8. 5. ‘For if there be first a willing mind’, v. 12. They had given the ultimate sacrifice to the Lord; every other sacrifice was easy.

The principle of giving

Both the Old and New Testaments teach the principle that those who give to the Lord will be recompensed both in this life and the life to come.

‘Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine’, Prov. 3. 9, 10. The widow of Zarephath, even though she was preparing what she thought was her last meal, gave first to Elijah, the man of God. The Lord rewarded her abundantly with an unfailing supply, ‘the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail’, 1 Kgs. 17. 13, 16.

‘But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully’, 2 Cor. 9. 6. Simon Peter lent his ship to the Lord at the sea of Galilee as a platform on which to preach the word of God to the multitude gathered on the shore. The Lord rewarded him with a great catch (multitude) of fish, Luke 5. 1-6.

The purpose of giving

‘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. Not giving by compulsion but with an open hand. Note the reference to the ‘heart’, 9. 7, and the ‘mind’, 8. 12.

The provision for giving

The Christian gives to the Lord from what he or she has, ‘it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not’, 8. 12. The Philippians worked and God blessed their efforts, ‘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’, 9. 8. ‘Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men’, 8. 21. ‘Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth’, Eph. 4. 28.

The product of giving

It meets the needs of others, ‘supplieth the want of the saints’, and it results in thanksgiving, ‘is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God’, 2 Cor. 9. 12.

It brings glory to God, ‘they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ’, v. 13.

It results in prayer for the believers by those who receive their gifts, ‘And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you’, 9. 14.

The provocation of giving

The generosity of the Corinthians had an influence on the believers in Macedonia, ‘your zeal hath provoked very many’, 9. 2. In spite of their affliction and poverty, they ‘abounded unto the riches of their liberality’, 8. 2. Their example had an accumulating effect.

The widow and the two mites

‘And Jesus sat over against the treasury’, Mark 12. 41. If the Lord were seated beside the collection box today, would we give the same amount? If, instead of putting our offering in the box, we were placing it into the nail-pierced hand of Christ, would it have any effect on our giving? We read of Jesus looking, ‘[He] beheld how the people cast money into the treasury’.

The widow cast in two mites and the Lord said, ‘Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury’, v. 43. It was ‘all that she had, even all her living’, v. 44. The rich men cast in much unto the offerings of God, but she cast in more, see Luke 21. 1-4. Not just more than any one of them, but in the Lord’s estimation, more than them all.

Gifts that will not be accepted

‘Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift’, Matt. 5. 23, 24. The intention is good, the gift is brought to the altar, but something is not right. The offerer remembers that there is a brother who has something against him. Reconciliation with his brother must take precedence even over the offering of his gift to the Lord.

Gifts that will not be rewarded ‘Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven … But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: that thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly’, Matt. 6. 1, 3, 4.

The Lord is teaching that our giving to Him should be A10 secret. If we reveal it to others, perhaps with the motive of elevating ourselves in their eyes, we may receive the praise of men, but we forfeit the reward from our heavenly Father.

Gifts given in the shadow of the altar

In the days of king Jehoash when money was needed to repair the house of the Lord, ‘Jehoiada the priest took a chest, and bored a hole in the lid of it, and set it beside the altar, on the right side as one cometh into the house of the Lord: and the priests that kept the door put therein all the money that was brought into the house of the Lord’, 2 Kgs. 12. 9.

As we stand by faith beneath the shadow of Calvary, can we say with reality, ‘Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all’?


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