November 19, 2007

Monday Morning Message - Giving

The Bible has more to say about money and possessions than ANY other topic. That comes as a surprise to many people. Most think the Bible is all about praying, or heaven, or hell. The Bible is about God's relationship to man and God certainly knows the single greatest hindrance to that relationship is "stuff". All too often our goods become our gods. How are we to keep our possessions from possessing us? I believe we need to practice the discipline of giving.

We need to give graciously, not greedily. 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 recounts Paul's encouragement to the Corinthian church to give. The chief reason he offers them for giving is that they are recipients of God's grace. "And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things you may abound in every good work" (v. 8 ESV) . Those who have entered into a saving relationship with Jesus understand and know from firsthand experience that God is able to supply every need. We can give from a position of confidence because of the confidence we have in God's ability and willingness to supply all of our needs.

There is a popular brand of "Christian" teaching out there which leads many to give out of greed. The teaching goes something like this, you give a little and God will give you a lot. Greed motivates the gift. It is selfish rather than selfless. It is a pattern of giving that is focused on getting rather than giving. Unfortunately, it seems that the only ones benefiting from this teaching are the ones doing the teaching.

We not only need to give graciously, we also need to give intentionally rather than incidentally. Giving should be planned and systematic. Paul encouraged the Corinthian church to "put something aside" on the first day of each week. (1 Corinthians 16:1-2) The weekly practice of "setting something aside" serves to remind us of God's grace and provision. We can easily become wrapped up in our own importance and forget God is the one who gives us strength for the work. There will be opportunities for incidental giving, the friend in need, the unexpected windfall that allows us to bless others, however, incidental giving should not be our plan for giving.

As believers we can also give victoriously! Trusting God's continuing provision allows us to give victoriously as an act of worship. It is incredible to drive through some neighborhoods and see the incredible homes being built. I often wonder how people can afford to build such lavish places of habitation. I also find myself wondering to what end are they being built. The terrible reality is that the day will come when another will come and live in that place. Death will visit all and then what good is all our wealth? (For more on this visit the book of Ecclesiastes). But, for the Christian death is no threat!

Finally we need to give with excitement. There are three kinds of giving: 1. Grudge giving says, "I have to give.", 2. Duty giving says, "I ought to give.", 3. Thanks giving says, "I want to give!". I can honestly say, "I want to give!" because I see where the gifts I give are making a difference close to home and far away! Through our church we are able to help support over 5300 international missionaries, 5000 North American missionaries, 3 colleges, and a myriad of other ministries. Every time I give a dollar, I know a portion of it is going to support these wide ranging ministries. I am excited about giving!



Mike said...

You make a powerful statement, giving out of greed. This all stems from a faith that is man centered. It is all about me, such theologians proclaim.
Giving out of the love of Christ is a far differnt thing. Our hearts are in the heavenlies and our actions are here on earth.

John said...

Thanks Mike. It is such an unfortunate outcome of our incredible prosperity that we have equated spiritual success with material success. Truly a fallacious position. Treasuring God for God rather than for what He can give us is a desperate need in our churches.