A subject that is a bit of taboo in church is that of giving. If a preacher talks about giving, he usually gets one of two responses (there’s also a third by those who say nothing and give joyfully but we’ll focus on the other two for now). The first is “oh no, the preacher wants more money, so he’s talking about giving.” For the most part in the majority of churches, if giving increases by a lot or a little, the preacher doesn’t receive a single dime more in his salary. The other response usually is “I have to give, so I will give.” This isn’t done out of a willing heart or love of God, but done out of compulsion. In both of these issues, neither has to do with the preacher or the feeling of compulsion to give, but the heart of the giver.
In my recent study through the Bible, I noticed a few things: first, Abraham gave a tenth to the Lord when there was no law on it; second, that all of the laws on giving had to do with bringing your first and best to the Lord, and third, that none of it had to do with a sense of obligation, but out of love for God, and to see His ministry completed. In the ministry of the Tabernacle, and then the Temple, giving was the way in which Israel ministered to the Lord: out of what wasn’t offered up as a burnt or drink offering to the Lord, the gifts would furnish the Temple, the Priests and the Levites, and provide for their service. A cursory reading my make one think it’s only for this purpose. However, God stressed giving the first and the best. Why?
Simply put: the Lord asked for the first and best to constantly remind Israel that it was He who provided. He gave them a land, vineyards, cattle, and fields that did not belong to them. He provided their wealth, spoils, and victories. It all belonged to Him, and He was the one who furnished them lavishly. The gift was a reminder to depend on God and not the gifts He gives. And this is why, Christian, we give. We give, not because God needs it, or we have to, or the church needs to keep the lights on (God will always provide if He is in the house, I’ve seen it first hand many times!). We give because we love God and recognize that it all belongs to Him anyway. We recognize that He is the Master of the gift. Giving in grumbling or giving under compulsion shows that the money we hold has mastery over us, instead of it being a tool provided by God to continue to serve His will while we still sojourn in this world. We need to be joyful givers: none of it is ours, and if we don’t recognize the Provider, the gift can rule over us.
2 Corinthians 9:
Now it is superfluous for me to write to you about the ministry for the saints, for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the people of Macedonia, saying that Achaia has been ready since last year. And your zeal has stirred up most of them. But I am sending the brothers so that our boasting about you may not prove empty in this matter, so that you may be ready, as I said you would be. Otherwise, if some Macedonians come with me and find that you are not ready, we would be humiliated—to say nothing of you—for being so confident. So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift you have promised, so that it may be ready as a willing gift, not as an exaction.
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. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!