The practice and development of a definite plan for giving to the Lord’s work is not some carnal, man-made device made up by some money-hungry preachers in order to “fleece” the sheep. The Apostle Paul had a plan: a plan by which gratitude is expressed for the grace received in salvation.
Giving is at the very heart of the Gospel. God the Father is a loving giver (Rom. 8:32; 2 Thess. 2:16; 2 Cor. 9:15; Jn. 3:16); and God the Son, too, is a loving giver (2 Cor. 8:9). Giving is synonymous with love and the Gospel of Salvation (Rom. 6:23), and ought to be synonymous with Christians as illustrated:
The Kingdom Believers, in the days after Pentecost, were “possessors of lands or houses.” They willingly sold their possessions and “brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need” (Acts 4:35).
The Macedonian Grace Believers were “in a great trial of affliction” and “deep poverty,” but “by the will of God” gave themselves to the Lord in order to minister to the saints” (2 Cor. 8:1-5).
Believers are to be loving givers. The Apostle Paul reminds us, “I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). The program for world evangelism cannot be carried out apart from the giving of our sons and daughters, time, talent, money, prayers, and ourselves. This is where we must start if we are to understand how we are to give to God’s work.
FIRST, GIVE YOURSELF TO GOD: 2 Cor. 8:5.
God does not want money or material from the unsaved person. No! Paul came to the Corinthians saying, “I seek not yours, but you” (2 Cor. 12:14-15). God wants to give: God wants to give the unsaved salvation through the Lord Jesus (Eph. 2:8-9).
At the moment of salvation, God the Holy Spirit places the believer into union with Christ (1 Cor. 12:12-13) so completely that He seals (Eph. 1:13), indwells (Eph. 1:17-19), and makes him an heir and joint heir with Christ! God is the greatest giver in the universe (Jas. 1:17)!
It is through the filling of the Holy Spirit that the believer experientially, and willingly acknowledges ownership and control of his life to God. He, thus, gives himself to God when he yields to the control of the Holy Spirit. This is demonstrated when the believer acts upon the instructions given in Romans 12:1-2.
SECOND, GIVE TO DISPLAY YOUR LOVE TO GOD: 2 Cor. 8:24.
The Corinthian Saints had boasted of their love for the Lord and willingness to give (2 Cor. 9:1-2), but the “proof” or genuiness of their love for the Lord, the Word, poor saints, missionaries, etc. is found in the doing – not the talking or expressions of good intentions. Furthurmore, giving exemplifies the Biblical principle of requited love. “We love Him, because He first loved us” (1 Jn. 3:16-18; 4:19; 2 Cor. 5:14-15). Giving then of our time, talents and money is the natural and expected result of being filled with the Holy Spirit.
THIRD, GIVE AS A MANIFESTATION OF MATURITY: 2 Cor. 12:14.
As a general rule, giving characterizes adulthood rather than childhood. This is exemplified in Paul’s dealings with the Corinthians. Here Paul takes the role of “parent” and the Corinthians as the “children” – the implication being that the believer who is growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ needs to grow in the grace of giving also.
FOURTH, GIVE OF A FREE WILL: 2 Cor. 8:3; 9:7.
Giving must not be because of demand or law but because of love – free from coercion or pressure. The Macedonian believers “begged with much intreaty” to give to the Lord’s glory. It is with this same attitude that we are called upon to follow the teaching and example of Christ (Mt. 10:8; 2 Cor. 8:9), who willingly – freely gave His own body on the Cross and removed the sins of the world.
FIFTH, GIVE SECRETLY: 1 Cor. 16:1-2.
Remember, there is no “tithe” or “Storehouse” (Mic. 3:10) in this Dispensation of Grace. Furthermore, there are no storekeepers except the individual believer and what he gives is a personal matter between him and God. No one has any right to tell a believer how much he should give. It is to be “every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give” (2 Cor. 9:7).
SIXTH, GIVE PROPORTIONATELY: 1 Cor. 16:2.
How much? Paul’s answer is simple and straightforward: “as God hath prospered.” Those who have prospered much should give much. Those who have been blessed with little should give less. Those who have nothing, but have a willingness to give, are as those who have given everything (2 Cor. 8:12).
SEVENTH, GIVE REGULARLY: I Cor. 16:2.
Important things should be done systematically and regularly: eating, sleeping, paying rent, working and giving. This equals success and happiness. To do this we need to make plans and follow the instructions, “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store” (1 Cor. 16:2).
EIGHTH, GIVE BY HOLY SPIRIT DIRECTION: Gal 5:18.
“If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the Law.” There is a great need today for more Spirit-led giving and less Law-led giving. If the Law led the Children of Israel through their wilderness journey, how much more can the Holy Spirit lead Grace Believers through our journey of life? A believer led by the Spirit in his giving will never go wrong.
NINTH, GIVE WHERE YOU ARE BEING FED AND WHERE THE WORD OF GOD IS TAUGHT FAITHFULLY: Gal. 6:6.
We are living in great days of compromise and departure from the Word of God and sound doctrine. It is very important to give to those churches, pastors, teachers, evangelists, missionaries, publishers and any other Christian workers who are faithfully giving out the Word of God (cf., 1 Cor. 9:14; 1 Tim. 5:17-18).
TENTH, GIVE WITH PROMISED BLESSING IN VIEW: 2 Cor. 9:5-6, 10-11.
Those who give to the Lord’s work will receive a reward in proportion to their generousity! The faithful giver is laying up a reward “in store” to be received at the Judgment Seat of Christ (1 Tim. 6:19).
Money is not the root of all evil as some people think. It is the love of money that becomes a snare and a sin. The person who lives by the philosophy, “Get all you can…Can all you get…Sit on the lid until the undertaker comes,” has a real problem. It is not sin to have money; the problem comes when the love of money controls the individual. The final test of a believer’s stewardship is not a matter of how much money a person gives to God but, rather, how much of God’s money should they keep and use on themselves.