As people everywhere experience the ups and downs of the economy, the subject of our giving to God may seem badly timed. But not really. Consider the words of Haggai the prophet:
“Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways! “You have sown much, and bring in little; You eat, but do not have enough; You drink, but you are not filled with drink; You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; And he who earns wages, Earns wages to put into a bag with holes”. – Haggai 1:5-6
Wow! That sums up the experience of many of us, right? What was the cause of this condition? Let’s listen in on Haggai’s prophecy once more:
“You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?” says the Lord of hosts. “Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house.” – Haggai 1:9
You see, our failure to give to God in attempting to “stretch the dollar” really leads to disaster. On the other hand, our giving to God is actually the most prudent investment one will ever make. For no one can out give God. God will not be a debtor to any man.
Consider when Jesus borrowed Peter’s boat to preach from. After He was through, He told Peter to “launch out into the deep and let down your nets . . .” They hauled in so many fish their nets began to break and their boat began to sink (Luke 5:1-7)! You just can’t out give God!
Now, the Bible has more to say about the stewardship of money than it says about many other aspects of our Christian walk that we consider much more often.
God wants His people to give. For in giving they become more God-like. “For God so loved the world, that He gave . . . (John 3:16).” As we give, we become more like our Father.
As we give, we give away a part of our selfishness.
As we give, our heart is more closely knit with God. Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Luke 12:34). If your treasure is with your investments or US National Bank, that’s where your heart will be. If your treasure is in God and God’s work, then that’s where your heart will be.
Now, there are four degrees of Biblical giving:
- Systematic Giving
“On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.” – 1 Corinthians 16:2
Every Christian is to come each Sunday already prepared to give. It is to be according to how God has prospered him. Now, in the Old Testament we are told that means tithing, or giving ten percent of our weekly income.
One may protest saying, “Tithing is the Old Testament law and we’re freed from the law.” Wait a minute! Abraham paid tithes before the law was ever given! (see Genesis 14:18-20)
It would seem that the tithe (ten percent) is clearly God’s minimum standard in systematic giving. The tithe is God’s! A failure to give it to God is actually robbing God.
“Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation.” – Malachi 3:8-9
Yet in this passage, God goes on to promise blessing for those who do tithe. Listen to the only time in the Bible that God asks men to prove, or test, Him:
“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.” – Malachi 3:10
- Spontaneous Giving
The degree of giving deals with our giving to God above and beyond the tithe as a spontaneous expression of our appreciation and devotion to Him. It’s an act of worship and praise.
Mary Magdalene gave in this way when she anointed the head of Jesus with very costly ointment (Matthew 26:6-13). The disciples said, “What purpose is this waste?” Hold on! Even though the ointment was worth a year’s salary, it wasn’t a waste. Nothing given to Jesus is ever a waste.
Yet, spontaneous giving is often viewed by the world as being a waste or as being foolish. But that’s not the way our Lord Jesus views it.
- Sacrificial Giving
This is giving to the point of it really hurting. Few of us know sacrificial giving; but those who have given sacrificially know the truth of Jesus’ words, “It is more blessed to give than receive” (Acts 20:35).
Consider David whom Scripture declares was, “A man after God’s own heart”. (Acts 13:22). In giving to the Lord he declared: “nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing.” – 2 Samuel 24:24
Consider also the widow who gave her last penny to God (Mark 12). Jesus saw and commented to His disciples: “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.” – Mark 12:43-44
I guarantee that the widow is enjoying eternal dividends that would make the fortune left by Howard Hughes look like peanuts!
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” – Matthew 6:19-20
- Spiritual Giving
The deepest level of giving is actually a spiritual gift listed in Romans 12 as the Gift of Giving. This is when you are used by God in making money to give back to the work and purposes of God.
This giving is a full-on ministry. Maybe God has given you the ability to make money and perhaps is even now showing you this is your spiritual gift, to give back a high percentage to Him.
Also, spiritual giving deals with praying money in for the purpose of giving it out. And you simply become a channel through which God’s riches flow. (Be careful of sticky fingers however!)
In all your giving, don’t give begrudgingly or half-hearted. God does not need your money.
“For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills . . . for the world is Mine, and the fullness thereof.” – Psalm 50:10-12
He tells us to give for our blessing, maturity, and prosperity. If you can’t give happily, don’t give at all for, “The Lord loves a cheerful (The Greek actually means hilarious!) giver” – 2 Corinthians 9:7.