Purpose of Guarding the Treasure

The purpose of this blog is to encourage readers to invest their time into the Word of God and "Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you." Paul wrote these words to Timothy (2 Timothy 1:14) in his presumed last letter before his execution. May we be those who see the word of God as a treasure, guarding it with our lives, investing in it with our hearts and minds, and reaping the fruit of an abundant life while getting to know the God who loves us and created us for His marvelous pleasure and glory.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Biblical Giving

There are thousands upon thousands of Christian ministries around the world. Ministries are operated by people, people with different backgrounds, theologies and beliefs and operated for a variety of purposes. As Christians, there are so many opportunities to give. We are instructed to give as the Lord leads.

A key New Testament passage on giving is 2 Corinthians 9:6-8, “Now this I say, he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully. Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.” Here are a few thoughts on this passage:
  • Attitude is one of the most important things in giving. We must realize that everything we have is from God. We are stewards and given the responsibility to manage our resources wisely. When it comes to giving (not just money), the more we give of ourselves through sowing, the more we reap of spiritual blessings and find ourselves aligned with the heart and will of God. In fact, Jesus said, "For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's shall save it." (Mark 8:35) What a joyful feeling it is to used as a servant of the Lord to help those in need and see others blessed! You never miss what you give away to the Lord.
  • Giving should be planned as each “has purposed in his heart” although there are always exceptions to this as the Lord may also move us to give spontaneously at times. Planned giving implies that a believer should discuss with the Lord such things as how much, where and when to give. Giving financially is a reasonable and appropriate response to the Giver of all good things and we should give God the best (first fruits) rather than the leftovers. Giving is very personal between the believer and the Lord. As such, we should seek His guidance and His will in the use of our finances. We should never feel that we are required to give to anything, but rather we should have an giving attitude and prepare to give as the Lord leads. The numbers are not important, but rather the attitude behind the giving which includes obedience to His will at any cost. Do we trust our money or God first and foremost for our financial security? What does our checkbook indicate about our priorities?
  • Giving should be joyful. In fact, the Greek word for “cheerful” is hilarious. The two warnings are given: not giving “grudgingly” or “under compulsion.” These ways of giving are not God’s chosen way for believers to give and yet how often people give out of guilt or manipulation. This falls short. Instead, God wants us to enjoy giving to others and give with an attitude of gratitude and with thanksgiving in our heart.
  • Paul reminds the believers that our sufficiency is in Christ and God is the provider of everything we need for life and ministry. Paul wrote to the Philippians, “And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:9) Jesus said, “Do not be anxious then, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'With what shall we clothe ourselves?' For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:31-33) Giving is about trust and a tangible reminder of our ultimate reliance upon God to sufficiently supply us with everything we need.
So is it wrong for Christian ministries to ask for money? Not necessarily. However, there are too many ministries today who are overbearing in their requirements for giving. Mandatory giving misses the mark for believers who wish to give in a cheerful manner and with a good conscience. To be certain, there are many ministries who make empty and/or false promises to the people who give to their ministry and/or manipulate and guilt people into giving. This is never right and one should question the true motive behind these ministries. One of my favorite radio Bible teachers, J. Vernon McGee (http://www.ttb.org) used to say, “Give where you get your blessing.” I like that, don’t you? Hudson Taylor, a missionary in China, said, "God's work done in God's way will never lack God's supplies." I sincerely believe that a ministry that is doing the will of the Lord will never lack the supplies and resources that are necessary to continue the ministry. Such a ministry should never need to guilt or manipulate people into giving, but rather God will lead the people blessed by the ministry to give and most certainly they would give cheerfully!

In conclusion, we should all ask the Lord to lead us in ways we can give cheerfully. If a ministry is using guilt tactics or harassing you into giving and robbing the joy of giving, consider giving to another ministry. There are many good choices out there for giving and many great churches that need support to fulfill the Great Commission and make disciples of all nations. Bottom line, seek the Lord and ask Him how you should give. We get the incredible privilege of offering our bodies as living and holy sacrifices of worship, pleasing Him as we seek to glorify Him in everything, including our financial giving. May the Lord restore your joy in giving!

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