Giving – Part 1

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.

An Exhortation to Give

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

  1. giving is to be purposeful; “the collection for the saints”, v 1 The purpose of the collection is made clear; it was for the poor saints at Jerusalem This was a specific need which had been made known to the Corinthians by Paul, and in connection with which they had expressed a desire to help We should always be sensitive to the needs of those around us We should be on the look-out for ways in which we can give practical support to the Lord’s servants, in which we can help His people in their need and in which we can show the kindness of our God to unbelievers
  2. Giving is to be a priority, “upon the first day”, v 2 It is one of the first things we should consider It is not good enough to decide what we are prepared to give to the Lord after we have spent all that we want on other things. His portion must be considered first.
  3. Giving is to be personal, “let every one of you” This embraces the young as well as the old. the poor as well as the rich Remember that it is not what you give, but what you hold back that determines the real value of the gift This is the lesson the Lord taught His disciples when He drew their attention to the poor widow who cast in her two mites into the temple treasury, Mark 12. 41-44 In actual monetary value her offering was insignificant when compared with what others gave, yet Jesus said, in effect, “She has given, not just more than each of the others individually, but more than all of them collectively”. Her small gift was of greater worth in the sight of the Lord than the sum total of the rest of the collection. Why was this? Because others had given out of their wealth but she out of her “want” (i.e. need), v 44 They had given only a part of what they had she had given the whole. She had given her all. even that which she needed to live on - “all her living” Giving is indeed a very personal matter and we need to remember that the Lord still sits “over against the treasury”, and that He still sees how much is given and how much is kept back.
  4. There should be preparation for giving, each should “lay by him in store” Paul exhorted the believers to set aside a sum of money each week. Likewise we should be ready with our offering for when the opportunity arises.
  5. Giving is to be proportionate: “as God hath prospered”. The amounts given by each will vary, for we are required to give according to our in come, cf Ezra 2. 69. Our giving should be a proportion of our earnings. But what, you may ask, is a reasonable proportion? Saints in the Old Testament were instructed to bring a tithe (that is. a tenth), but that was only the start of their giving They would supplement this by their freewill offerings How do we measure up to such a standard? Do we rob God? Nothing is ever lost that is given to the Lord His returns on investments are far greater than any dividends paid by the world

2 Examples of Giving, 2 Cor 8. 1-9.

(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.