“WISDOM OF LIVING (17): GIVE”                         By Pastor  YAU

Proverb 11:24-25; Matthew 6:19-21                        February 20, 2005

 

        INTRODUCTION: 

1) People gives: Days and weeks following the 9/11 terrorists attacks at the New York City World Trade Center twin towers in 2001, people around the world responded in giving in an unprecedented manner: giving of money, material supplies, blood, help, love and moral support, just to name a few. A similar response of giving after the tragic tsunami disaster in Asia at the end of last year affirmed once again the generous side of man. While it is certainly commendable the act of unselfish giving in response to disasters, Christians are taught to give in a more consistent way for some higher purposes.

        2) Bible on possession and giving: Both in the Old and the New Testaments, teachings on material possessions and giving spread out from Genesis to Revelation. In the Laws given by God to the Israelites, many of them were related to specific details of giving: sacrifices and offerings to God and charities to the needy. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave simple and basic reasons for us to give. In the letters written by Paul the Apostle, many guidelines on money and giving were recorded for the early churches as well as for Christians through the centuries even today.

 

WHY DOES GOD TALK SO MUCH ABOUT GIVING?  No one may attempt to claim to know the mind of God, but He certainly had given us many clear principles on possession and giving. Here are some of the reasons why:

1)               God is the sole owner of everything and we are only managers: King David declared that “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world and all who live in it.” (Psalm 24:1) God claimed ownership of the earth when He said, “The land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenant.” (Lev. 25:23) He also claimed to own things of high value in Haggai 2:8, “The silver is mine and the gold is mine, declares the Lord, the Almighty.” Moses reminded the Israelites to credit the Lord on their possessions when he said, “Remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth.” (Deut. 8:17) Paul, the Apostle reminded the early Christian on their responsibility of God’s trust said, “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” (I Corinth. 4:2)

2)               God wants to see your heart is set on Him: He knows that man may turn his heart from God to his possessions and therefore depart from His presence and leadership, He warns us “not to store up treasures on earth but to store them in heaven because man will put his heart where his treasure is.” (Matt. 6:19-21) God also wants to see that we are not distracted by our possession, so He said, “The sleep of a laborer is sweet whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of the rich permits him no sleep.” (Eccl. 5:12)

3)               God demands us to be faithful on His trust: In the parable of the Talents in Matt. 25:14-30, Jesus stressed the expectation of God, the Master, on His servants when He entrusted them with His treasure. Paul was serious about what he was trusted of when he says “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” (1 Corinth 4:2) No human master would continue to hire anyone to manage his property when the manager is proven unfaithful. With the greedy nature of man, it is easy to be tempted to mismanage God’s treasure as “our” treasure and use them for “our intent and benefit” instead of His intent and benefit.

4)               God wants to remind us that our real home is in  heaven: When Moses said that the length of our days is but 70 years or 80 and we will fly away, he wanted us to know we will never live on this planet earth forever. (Psalm 90:10) Paul echoed this sentiment when he said he was longing to depart from this earthly tent so he could move into the house built by the hands of God, (2 Corinth. 5:1-2) he was telling his readers that this world is never meant to be our eternal home. Jesus told His disciples that he went to prepare a mansion and will come to take them there to be with Him. (John 14:1-3) Too many people, including some Christians, treat their possessions as if they will live on earth forever. They need to prepare for their real home, heaven.

5)               God wants to bless those who are faithful in giving: Too often, man concludes that giving is a loss: the more I give the less I have. But God has a different mathematical formula: the more you give the much more you will receive. When the Israelites were stingy with God in giving, God retracted His blessing and protection and they suffered tremendous loss in the hands of enemies and natural disasters. (Jeremiah 2:13; 4:3-7)  God promised to pour His abundance on those who are faithful in managing His resources and giving. He will replenish, protect and bless the faithful beyond measure. (Malachi 3:8-12) He wants to give us a living well, not a bucket.

 

QUESTIONS SOME MAY ASK:  Some people ask questions wanting to make a case that they may be exempted from faithful giving because of their particular situation:

 

Q: Since the Law of Tithes is basically an Old Testament law, do we as Christians have to follow that law?

A: Christians are not bound by O. T. laws as we live in grace and love than under laws. We give not because of laws but because love—God, His church and His people. John raised the bar to give it all in John 21:1-4. When Jesus listed the requirements to be His disciples, He asked us to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him. His early disciples did give up all to follow Him. (Mark 10:28)

 

Q: I am just getting started in building my family and all the things we need or want. I will give more when I have met my goals of life.

A: The heart of giving has nothing to do with how much or little you have but how much faith and love you have to God. The early believers as well as many faithful givers today gave when they have very little. (Mk. 21:1-4; 2 Corinth. 8:1-6) If your goal of life includes obeying and trusting God, you won’t delay give faithfully.

 

Q: I am a teenager, a college student, have little or no income, do I have to give?

A: In America, most teenagers and students don’t have much income but spent a lot on fashions, DVDs, fancy cell-phones, gadgets, games, movies, eat outs, gifts, just to list a few. They HAVE money. If they do not begin building the right attitude of faithful giving while they are young and have little, they will never become faithful givers when they grow older and have more.

 

Q: I am close to retire and I need to save for my future years. How can I afford to be a faithful giver?

A: While it is legitimate to consider your needs after retirement on earth, it is also legitimate to consider your needs when you retire from earth and get to heaven. You can not bring anything from earth to heaven 5 minutes after you die. All that you may have in heaven depends on how much you have deposited there while you are still here and now. You can’t give anything to God or anyone or anything when you are dead. Jesus encouraged us to store our treasures in heaven. (Matt. 6:19-20)

 

Q: I have children and I need to save up for their college education. Just can’t afford to be a faithful giver as I want to.

A: Caring for our children is noble and planning for their future is good. But putting our children over and above loving and obeying God is neither noble nor good. No one could expect God’s blessing on them and their children by robbing God’s share of what He has given us. In fact, parents are the best models of faithful giving to their children. If parents are not faithful in giving, it is hard for children to grow up and be faithful.

 

WHAT SHOULD I DO NOW?  Consider the Lord has died to save you from eternal loss, giving to Him will not be that hard.

1)   Deepen you relationship with God, your love to Him and your trust in Him that He loves you and will provide all your needs. Deepen also your belief that all that you have are trusts from God and they are not yours. Build a strong desire to be a faithful manager.

2)   Focus more on raising your standard of faith and commitment rather than raising your standard of living. Be determined not to rob God of His fair share on your income and possession.

3)   Set ahead tithe (1/10) from all you have and made and give it to GOD the first Sunday after your pay day. Don’t wait till the end of the month to see if there is anything left. Remember the tithe is NOT your money. It is God’s.

4)   Be generous to give to other causes: Building Fund, Lotti Moon, tsunami victims, the needy and the poor. This is call offerings. This is NOT substitute to your tithe. It is in addition to the tithes.

 

CONCLUSION:  You may ask if you give so much to God, His church and the needy, what will be left for yourself. You may be surprised to see, in time, you will have MUCH MORE, as much as 10,000%, in many ways, than the stingy guys. (Mark 10:30) The blessings from the Lord is unlimited and beyond our wildest imagination. You will never out give God. If you are not sure, test Him, He invites. (Malachi 3:10)