10 Sep “Generous Giving” by Kathleen Wilson
I keep notes in my CCF Blog folder with ideas God gives me about future topics. After this Labor Day holiday, I came across a list of ideas and scriptures that reminded me of the “Faith Budget” Cranston Christian Fellowship recently approved to finance not only needed improvements to our current facility, but also expansion into a new community of Rhode Island. God wants to talk with you about GENEROUS GIVING.
The Kingdom of God has been described by one author as “The Great Reversal” because kingdom values, priorities, and methods are completely opposite those of the world’s system. For example – exaltation is achieved by humility, strength is found through weakness, and leaders are servants.
In God’s Kingdom, we get (receive) so we can give. God gives to us so we can bless others with the gifts we have received. God expects us to imitate Him in giving freely and generously, with no expectation of earthly return, reward, or recognition. In God’s Kingdom, giving is not transactional – it is a matter of the heart.
In 2 Corinthians vv. 6-10, the apostle Paul points out: “. . . 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 many abound in every good work.”
While God is our source and supply of everything, we are His distributors. Paul’s ministry was financed by tithes, offerings, and gifts from Christ followers. He reminds them that in God’s Kingdom, the more you give away, the more you receive – another example of the “Great Reversal.” He also points out that God is more interested in “why” you give than “how much” you give. He desires we give from a joyful heart, a childlike trust, and a generous spirit.
Too many of us agree with the principle but fall short on the execution. We worry about not having enough, losing what we do have, or doing without altogether. The result is our financial giving is sporadic, we resist tithing, we tend to hold onto things we no longer use, or buy what we don’t really need – all because our security comes largely from our earthly resources and possessions.
God wants us to trust Him completely for our provision and remember: He is the unchanging source of everything good in our lives.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation of shadow due to change.” (James 1:17)
We have nothing to worry about. When we live in God’s Kingdom, He knows what we need and is faithful to provide it.
. . . “Oh you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:31-33)
God wants us to be wholly dependent on Him and only Him.
“ Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.” (Jeremiah 17:7)
“Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” (Isaiah 26:4)
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
His provision is promised one day at a time so we remain dependent on Him (and focus on our present need rather than regret the past or fear the future.)
“Give us this day our daily bread,” (Matthew 6:11)
Exodus 16: 13-26 – God provided the Israelites in the Sinai desert supernatural “bread from heaven” (manna) that appeared each morning for six days. Its short “shelf life” prevented them from hoarding against future lack. They had to trust the Lord for their daily supply.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies are new every morning: great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)
He is our unlimited, eternal supply and constant source of provision.
“. . . as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians4:18)
“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:2)
He rewards our faith.
“. . . give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6: 38)
“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.” (Malachi 3:10)
What I’ve learned is another example of the “Great Reversal” – that freedom is a result of dependence. The more I have learned about God, the more I have been able to love Him. The more I love Him, the more I have been able to trust Him. And the more I trust Him, the more I have been able to obey Him. My experience is that consistent freedom from anxiety, worry, and fear about money comes from putting everything that God had given me on His altar. He should be in charge and in control of all aspects of my life, including my finances. God’s ways are perfect and mine are not. His wisdom and understanding so far exceed my own that Isaiah described them as being “as the heavens are higher than the earth.” That’s quite a gap!
I also learned that another aspect of trusting and obeying God is being a good steward of the resources that He has given me. While relying on Him as my eternal source and supply, I am still expected to plan, budget, pay my bills on time, avoid excessive debt, and give back to God via tithes, offering, and gifts to support the expansion of His Kingdom in the world. I am NOT to put my faith in whatever earthly channel He uses to supply me. Why? Everything earthly is transient – companies go belly up, banks close, stock values tumble, economies tank, property can be stolen or destroyed, people die or leave, jobs can be lost, government subsidies run out, etc. Your CHANNEL of supply may change over time or with circumstances, but your SOURCE of supply is a holy, eternal God with infinite resources and unfathomable love.
Note: all scripture is from the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Holy Bible.