St. Paul, Minnesota
You cannot buy your way to heaven with money, but you can pave your way to hell with it. The misuse and abuse of money and material blessings is one of the greatest assurances of eternal condemnation. The teachings of Christ have more to say about money and the material things for which it is used than any other one subject. The reason that the Bible says so much about this subject is quite simple.
"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil: which some reaching after have been led astray from the faith, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows" (I Tim. 6:10.)
In order to make the right use of his material possessions the Christian should give careful attention to what the Bible teaches on this matter. Here are ten guides to giving, which are set forth in the word of God and which should govern each of us both in what we give and in what we retain.
Our Giving Should Be Governed By These Ten Guides
1. Every material blessing which we have comes from God.
Scriptures: "The earth is Jehovah's, and the fullness thereof; The world and they that dwell therein" (Ps. 24:1). "For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle of a thousand hills" (Ps. 50:10). "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights . . ." (Jas. 1:17)
Application: Since everything we have comes from God, we are simply stewards of that which God has committed into our care. As stewards, we must strive to handle aright that which in reality belongs to God. "Here, moreover, it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful" (I Cor. 4:2). Jesus teaches us that we must one day give an account of our stewardship, and he says: "If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon (money), who will commit to your trust the true riches" (Luke 16:2, 11).
2. We, as Christians, belong entirely to God.
Scriptures: "Or know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God? and ye are not your own; for ye were bought with a price: Glorify God therefore in your body" (I Cor. 6:19, 20). "For none of us liveth to himself, and none dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; or whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's" (Rom, 14:7, 8).
Application: Since we belong entirely to God, our lives, everything we are and everything we have, should be dedicated to his service. Everything we do will be done to the glory of God. "And whatsoever ye do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him" (Col. 3:17). With this concept, all that we have will be given to the service of God in one-way or another. What we retain for our own personal use will not be retained for selfish purposes, but to enable us to more effectively serve God with our lives. Our first consideration at all times will be: "How can I best use my material blessings to advance the cause of Christ." Surely this concept will cause us to be much more liberal in what we lay in store on the Lord's day.
3. We can rob God of what is rightfully his by the way we use our money.
Scriptures: "Will a man rob God? yet ye rob me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with the curse; for ye rob me, even this whole nation" (Malachi 3:8, 9). "There was a certain rich man, who had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he was wasting his goods. And he called him, and said unto him, What is that that I hear of thee? Render the account of thy stewardship; for thou canst be no longer steward" (Luke 16:1, 2).
Application: In Romans 2:22 Paul asked "Thou that abhorrest idols, cost thou rob temples? " Even among men, robbery is a very serious crime and punishable by imprisonment. How much more serious when the robbery is committed against God! Yet, when we use for personal pleasure, that which should have been used to the glory of God, we are guilty of robbing Him.
4. We must plan and purpose our giving if it is to be acceptable.
Scriptures: "Let each man do according as he hath purposed in his heart . . ." (II Cor. 9:7a). "…make up beforehand your afore-promised bounty, that the same might be ready as a matter of bounty, arid not of extortion" (II Cor. 9:5b). "…. for this is expedient for you who were the first to make a beginning a year ago, not only to do, but also to will" (II Cor. 8:10b).
Application: To purpose means to choose beforehand. God expects us to study and plan our giving so that it will not be a matter of extortion. The Christians at Corinth were commended because they had promised their bounty a year in advance. The person who does not spend some time and thought in planning his giving cannot give so as to please God.
5. Our giving is measured by God by the degree of sacrifice we make.
Scriptures: "And he sat down over against the treasury and beheld how the multitude cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a poor widow, and she cast in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, This poor widow cast in more than all they that are casting into the treasury: for they all did cast in of their superfluity; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living" (Mark 12:41-44). "How that in much proof of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality" (II Cor. 8:2). But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased" (Heb. 13: 16).
Application: Our giving is measured, not so much by the amount we give, as by the amount we have left after we give. Jesus commended the poor widow, not because she gave little but because she gave all that she had to give. She retained nothing. The contrast between the widow and the rich who cast in of their superfluity was in the amount, which was retained for self. The rich cast in much but they kept much more. The widow cast in little but she kept nothing. Unless our giving represents a personal sacrifice, it amounts to little in the sight of God.
6. Our giving must be according to our prosperity.
Scriptures: "Upon the first day of the week let each one of you lay by him in store, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come" (I Cor. 16:2). "For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according as a man hash, not according as he hath not" (II Cor. 8:12).
Application: To prosper means to be well provided for the journey of life. The degree to which one has been provided for life's journey determines the extent to which he should lay by in store. This, of course, would include a person's total income from all sources. If a person has two jobs, then his giving should be based on the income from both jobs, not just one. If two members of a family work, the family's prosperity is the combined income from both sources. If they give as they have prospered, they base their giving on the total income from both sources. If a man works overtime, his prosperity is increased by the amount he receives above his regular wages. Unless his giving is based upon his total pay, he is not giving as he has prospered. It is at this point that many people are actually robbing God.
7. Our giving should be with liberality.
Scriptures: "…he that giveth, let him do it with liberality…" (Rom. 12:8b). "But this I say, He that soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he that soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully" (II Cor. 9:6). "And he that supplieth seed to the sower and bread for food, shall supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the fruits of your righteousness: ye being enriched in everything unto all liberality, which worketh through us thanksgiving to God" (II Cor. 9: 10, 11).
Application: There is no place in our giving to the Lord for stinginess and penny-pinching. There are some who have misapplied the fact that the New Testament does not teach tithing, and they have wrongly concluded that they can give anything they want to. While the New Testament does not teach tithing as such, it does teach giving with liberality. It is doubtful if many of us can give liberally while giving less than a tenth. Jesus told his disciples, "freely ye received, freely give" (Matt. 10:8). This should be true of us in our material blessings.
8. Our giving should be done with cheerfulness.
Scriptures: "Let each man do according as he hath purposed in his heart: not grudgingly or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver" (II Cor. 9:7). "How that in much proof of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality" (II Cor. 8:2).
Application: Someone has said, "The gift without the giver is bare." This is true. The attitude of the one giving is of equal importance with what he gives. Paul said the Christians of Macedonia besought with much entreaty to be allowed to give (II Cor. 8:4). We need a resurrection of such cheerfulness.
9. Our giving should be for the purpose of laying up a good foundation against the time to come.
Scriptures: "Charge them that are rich in this present world, that they be not high-minded, nor have their hope set on the uncertainty of riches, but on God who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, that they be ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on the life which is life indeed" (I Tim. 6:17-19). "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust cloth consume, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also" (Matt. 6:19-21).
Application: "Use your money while you're living, do not hoard it to be proud. You can never take it with you, there's no pocket in a shroud." There is only one way to benefit eternally from our temporal blessings. Use them in the service of God and for the advancement of His cause.
10. Our giving, when directed by God's word, will bring rich returns into our lives.
Scriptures: "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35). "For the ministration of this service not only filleth up the measure of the wants of the saints, but aboundeth also through many thanksgivings unto God; seeing that through the proving of you by this ministration they glorify God for the obedience of your confession unto the gospel of Christ, and for the liberality of your contribution unto them and unto all" (II Cor. 9:12,13.)
Application: We have not been truly and completely blessed until we have known the joys of giving. God has promised to richly bless those who live lives of service and sacrifice. Through the prophet Malachi he challenged his people with these words: "Bring ye the whole tithe into the store-house, that there may be food in my house, and prove me now herewith, saith Jehovah of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there will not be room to receive it." We will never know the fullness of giving until we accept this challenge from our God.
Conclusion: Here then are the principles of giving which are set forth in the word of God. What will we do with them? They are of little value on this paper, but they can be of immense worth both to you and to the church of our Lord if each of us will govern our giving by God's guides.