The importance of the subject of giving is emphasized for us by the words which Paul quoted from the Lord Him self. “It is more blessed to give than to receive”. Acts 20. 35 It is good to receive but it is even better to give There is, of course, a joy in receiving, but there is a greater joy and blessedness in giving We cannot doubt this for it is the Lord who said it!
We should give because we are the children of the giving God. Paul proclaimed on Mars Hill, “God giveth to all life, and breath, and all things”. Acts 17. 25. Elsewhere he spoke of God giving “freely”, Rom. 8. 32, and “richly”. 1 Tim. 6. 17. James adds that He gives “liberally”, 1. 5. Truly. “He giveth. and giveth, and giveth again” As His children we should be characterised by giving not grasping.
There are many references to this subject m the New Testament, but we will restrict ourselves to a brief look at two passages from Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, 1 Cor 16. 1, 2, 2 Cor 8 and 9 We will discover an exhortation to give, examples of giving, the exercise involved in giving and the enrichment which follows giving.
1 Cor 16. 12. The apostle set before the church at Corinth certain principles which he had already given to other churches, “as I have given order to the churches of Galatia”, v. 1 Here we find apostolic teaching preserved and given to us for our help and guidance. We learn that
(a) The example of the churches of Macedonia We must be very hardhearted if we are not moved by their example. First, their giving was spiritual it was the outworking of God’s grace bestowed upon them, v 1 Giving does not come naturally; it is a spiritual grace If we find it hard to give, it is because we are carnal and selfish If we find joy in giving, this is the evidence of the Spirit’s work in us. It is the manifestation of His grace bestowed on us, as it was on the churches of Macedonia Their giving was sympathetic. v 2a. They felt keenly for the saints at Jerusalem, who were passing through a great trial of affliction, for they themselves knew what it was to be afflicted. They were able to sympathise with their brethren Though poor themselves, they gave generously, and thus expressed their loving sympathy in a practical way Their giving was sacrificial, vv. 2b, 3a. They not only gave according to their means, but beyond it They gave over and above what they could afford They went without - that their brethren might be supplied It was not that they deprived themselves of luxuries only; they denied themselves necessities What a challenge ’.his is to us! It is tempting for us to give only that which we have left after we have satisfied all our wants. Again, their giving was spontaneous, they were “willing of themselves”, vv 3b. 4. It had not been necessary for the apostle to exert great pressure on them Indeed, it appears that Paul was reluctant to take anything from them. They besought him “with much entreaty” They begged him to accept the practical expression of their fellowship as a means of ministering to the saints In considering the example of these churches we may well ask, Why did they do it? What was the secret of their generosity? The secret of their giving is found in verse 5, they “first gave themselves to the Lord” We can never give ourselves and our possessions to one another until we have given ourselves to Him Have we presented our bodies as living sacrifices? Is He not worthy to have all? This brings us to:
(b) The example of the Lord Jesus. We read of “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor”, v.9 What grace and what giving! He gave Himself Have we ever heard Him say to us, “I gave My life for thee; what hast thou given for Me?” He was so very rich yet He became so very poor. And why? That we might be made rich, blessed with every blessing and heirs to an incorruptible, undefiled and unfading inheritance, which is reserved in heaven for us Having received so freely, ought we not freely to give? It is our privilege, as it is our responsibility.
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