When we truly receive the Gospel, there is a response from within our hearts that makes us willing to see the furtherance of the Gospel, and willing to participate in it. You would have the response in your heart which will be a desire to see the revelation of the Gospel go beyond borders. No matter who you are, no matter what your income is, God has enabled us all to give generously, and generosity for each of us may not be the same. If we become desensitized to the financial implication of the Gospel, we will find ourselves with empty pockets. Let us consider five things the Apostle Paul said about giving.
- Giving is the proof of the sincerity of your love
“I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.” 2 Corinthians 8:8
When Paul says that we are not under commandment under grace, he is not referring to the aspect of giving only but to everything. In our ethics, we do not live from an external code of Law. We are serving in the newness of the Spirit, not in the oldness of the letter. We serve by the sincerity of our love. Your love has to be proved. God whom we serve is unseen; we serve Him through the visible channels He has established. We thus cannot love the invisible God without loving the visible representation of His Church.
- Money takes the form of both “Bread” and “Seed”
“Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)” 2 Corinthians 9:10
Jesus Christ is described as the one who ministers seed to the sower. In every increase you receive, there is bread and there is seed. Bread is for your consumption and seed is to be sown. Therefore, as a faithful steward of God, part of your wisdom is to be able to distinguish between bread and seed. We shouldn’t possess a methodology of giving that only brings God the leftovers. We don’t render to God second-hand. Even when Jesus had to enter Jerusalem, He asked for a donkey which no one had ridden (Mark 11:1-2). Your seed is what is precious to you. If it costs you nothing, it is not a seed worthy of the name. Giving is exercising authority over finances by putting priorities on our spending.
- Giving is one of the Primary Purposes of Employment
Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Ephesians 4:28
The purpose of employment, industry and creativity is to have what to give. When the purpose of a thing is unknown, abuse is inevitable. Many sons of God tend to not have time for God, nor for the work of God, after they have had the employment which they prayed for and received. When God entrusts you with responsibilities, and you also have the responsibility of your employment, and you still make time to participate in Church life and in the things of the ministry, that is honour. You could have been elsewhere, but you are showing God that you have placed honour on your time. We work in order to have what to give. Every believer must have what to give without excuse.
- How you give is just as important as what you give
Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7
This has to do with the attitude, method and manner by which we give. The term “of necessity” used in the passage refers to “under Law”. We are not to give under Law. Giving is not just about what you give but how you give. For instance, you don’t tell God how He is to use the money you give. That would mean it is not given. Part of giving is trusting the leadership to administrate the money. In Acts of the Apostle, the money was brought at the apostles’ feet (Acts 4:35), which means it was up to their discretion how the money was to be used.
- Giving is a qualification for Leadership
“I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. 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 20:33-35
According to Paul, those who do not give should not lead. In the early church, there was none who was poor who was designated as leader. It was a measure against corruption, so the person designated doesn’t look for opportunities to take the money for themselves. Integrity is discerned.
This article is an extract from the Message “Faithful Stewardship“ by Dr Shawn Smith.