by Steven Chan
26 December 2010
As the world celebrates the season of giving and receiving, it may be appropriate for us to consider what the bible has to say about giving and receiving.
1. The Bible declares in John 3:16 that God gave us the greatest gift of all: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” 2 Cor 8:9: “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.” God’s gift of His only begotten Son was to enable us to have the Gift of Everlasting Life. No greater gift does a man need than that! This is the Greatest Gift that we need to share with our friends and loved ones not only during this season of giving and receiving but throughout our lives here on earth.
2. It is important for us to have a generous spirit of giving as we can never out-give what we receive (can we out-give what God has given to us, what our teachers, friends and families have given to us; what our community has given to us, what our country has given to us, etc…?): In Luke 6:38, Jesus taught thus: “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” This is similar to the Golden Rule as stated in Mat 7:12” “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” We need to treat others as we want ourselves to be treated by others. If we refuse to give when it is in our power to do so, then when we are in need who can we expect to help us? Prov 3:27: “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.”(ESV)
3. By giving, we store up treasures for our future so that we may take hold of eternal life: In Acts 20:35, the apostle Paul reminded the elders of the church at Ephesus “to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” According to 1 Tim 6:18-19 those who “do good, and are rich in good works, generous and ready to share, store up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” (ESV)
4. We need to give according to our ability: Acts 11:29: “Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea.” 1 Cor 16:2: “On the first day of the week, each of you should set aside and save some of your money in proportion to what you have, so that no collections will have to be made when I come.”(ISV)
5. We are encouraged to give even beyond our ability as provided by the great example of the poor churches in Macedonia as recorded in 2 Cor 8:1-5: “We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints– and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.”(ESV).
Our Lord Jesus tells us in Luke 21:1-4 about the importance of giving regardless of how poor we may be or how little we can give: “Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” We may question whether it was wise of the woman to give “all that she had to live on” into the treasury of the temple to be used for the work of the Lord, but the Lord commended her for her generosity – she demonstrated her implicit faith in God’s ability to continue to provide for her needs. The Bible exhorts us in Heb 13:5-6 to trust our Lord as our provider and helper: Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (ESV)
The Bible tells us about the faith of Abraham who was prepared to give his only son to God, Isaac, as requested by God because he believed that God would be able to raise him up from the dead: Heb 11:17-19: “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.
6. In 2 Cor 9:6-12, the Bible teaches us the importance of being liberal and cheerful in our giving (some are cheerful in giving little but the Bible tells us to be both liberal and cheerful in our giving): “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.”(ESV) Apart from the relief for those in need, our giving also brings thanksgivings to God – and that’s how God’s name is glorified (Matt 5:16).
7. Giving should cost us something: King David provided us a great example of sacrificial giving in 2 Sam 24:22-25: “Then Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take and offer up what seems good to him. Here are the oxen for the burnt offering and the threshing sledges and the yokes of the oxen for the wood. All this, O king, Araunah gives to the king.” And Araunah said to the king, “May the LORD your God accept you. But the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. And David built there an altar to the LORD and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.”
God was not pleased when the worshippers in the Old Testament gave Him the lame and sick animals as their sacrifices: Malachi 1:8: “When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the LORD of hosts.”(ESV). What kind of gifts do we give to God and to our friends and loved ones? Do we give anything to God at all? In Malachi 3:10, God challenged the worshippers’ lack of faith and said thus: “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” (ESV)
Our God is the greatest Giver – He is Giver of our lives and all that we need. Let us therefore manifest our faith by being ever willing to give for His Glory – like Abraham, David, the poor widow and the early church. Our giving would become much easier when we realize the following truths:-
1. that all that we have has been given to us (1 Cor 4:7: “What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?”) and that we are merely stewards of all that God has blessed us with (I Pet 4:10) 1 Chronicles 29:11-14: “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name. “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.”
2. that we are merely stewards of all that God has given to us: I Peter 4:10: “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”( 1Tim 6:7 -8)