“WISDOM OF LIVING (55) GIVING” By Pastor YAU
Text: Matthew 6:1-4 January 27, 2008.
1) Why do we give? Tim Harford, a columnist for Financial Times, asked, “Whatever to the notion of giving for the sake of giving? The closer you look at charitable giving, the less charitable it appears to be. A study of door-to-door fundraising campaigns found that organizations earned far more by selling lottery tickets than by asking for donations,” Harford said. “This hardly suggests a world populated by altruists seeking to do the maximum good with their charitable resources. At least for some people, giving is a something-for-you/something-for-me approach.”
2) We give for good: Jesus also dealt with the issue on the motives of giving. When he said not to let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, He was teaching us that our motives for giving to God and to others must be pure. To encourage pure motives, Jesus instructs us to give and to do good deeds in secret with no thought of benefiting ourselves. God who sees everything will reward the giver in the public. (6:4)
GIVING IN THE BIBLE: Hard to list all the examples.
1) God’s ultimate give: “For God so loves the world that He gave His only begotten Son and whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)This most popular verse from the Scriptures tells us the ultimate give of God to man, the give of His own Son. No man ever has given to anyone by giving his own son. If we are talking about sacrificial give, this is.
2) God’s next best give: “And to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave them the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)This is more than just being saved. This is about a life relationship with God as His children sharing all His richness and love and mercy as family members.
3) God’s other gifts: “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11)This is about God giving us all the good things of life: health, strength, wisdom, ability, opportunity, work, family, children and parents, friends and church. Many of these we often take it for granted but they all are gifts of the good God.
4) Man’s best give: “Jesus answered, “The most important one is this: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:29-30)This is Jesus’ answer to a lawyer who asked what is the highest of all laws. What can we give to God? Our highest undivided love.
5) Man’s next best give: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, present your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, this is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1) This is our next best gift to God: to live our life as living sacrifices to God, completely dedicated to His leadership, obey His will and for His glory. Give God our words, thoughts and acts.
6) Man’s other gifts: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse (of the temple) that there may be food in my house.” (Malachi 3:10) This is about faithful giving of our tithes to God’s church. Do not rob God of His share or we will draw His curse. (3:9) Then we also need to support our family. “If anyone does not provide for his relatives and especially his immediate family, he has denied his faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:8)We are also instructed to give to the poor, the orphans and widows. “At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of the year’s produce and store it in your towns so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. (Deuteronomy 14:28-29)
REASONS FOR GIVING:
1) It is God’s command: Through out the whole Bible in both the Old and the New Testaments, we are told repeatedly to give, both give to God, to His church and to our fellow men. In obedience to God we ought to give as He has told us to. This is like obeying other laws in the Bible. It is not optional or cutting corners.
2) It is God’s property: The Bible told us that all we have are God’s and we are only stewards, taking care of God’s trust. We are to do what God wants us to do with His property. They are never ours.
3) It is necessary: Either it is the tithes, the support of God’s church, giving to missions, to charity or support of our family, there are many needs God wants us to give and support. He places His trust in our hands so we can give and support courses He wants us to support. God’s blessing is also for others through us.
4) It is more blessed: To be able to give is better than unable to give and much better than have to receive. “Remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts )
5) It is a great virtue: From kindergarten days we were taught to share what we have. This is a world where people share what they have with others so everyone may live a better life. Keeping everything to oneself is a sign of selfishness and it is a tarnished character.
6) It is a way to receive: “Test me in this, says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. I will prevent pest from devouring your crops and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruits.” (Mal. 3:10-11)Giving to God and others is never a loss. God has promised to replenish His supplies way beyond our giving. Being stingy is to cut off the channel of receiving God’s protection and abundant blessing.
BIBLICAL LESSONS ON GIVING: (Matthew 6:1-4)
1) It’s about motives: “Be careful not to do your acts of righteous-ness before men, to be seen by them.” (6:1)Giving with a wrong motive is a temptation of self righteousness and it needs to be dealt with. It is very human to seek glory or praise from man for our good deeds. When we give: time, energy, efforts, money or any other kind of giving, we need to be very careful of our motives. Search your heart and make sure you give because of your obedience to God and love to your fellow man and no more.
2) It’s about rewards: “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets to be honored by men. I tell you the truth they have received their rewards I full.” (6:2)Giving for the purpose of receiving rewards is never a giving but an exchange. If you give in exchange of men’s praises, you have received all your rewards in full and there won’t be any blessing from God.
3) It’s impossible: “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand knows what your right hand is doing…” (6:3)We all know that it is impossible not to let the left hand know what the right hand is doing because they both belong to the same body and are under the control of the same brain. What Jesus told us is not based on the physical condition of the body but the purpose of the heart. Jesus knows it is very difficult to give and not to desire to be known. That is exactly what he wants us to do when we give.
4) It’s possible: “…so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” (6:4)We may not give for the purpose to receive rewards from God but that doesn’t mean God cannot pour His rewards on what we give in secret. In another manuscripts, it adds “in public” at the end of the verse. “In public” means visible that all can see. Even though no one may see what you give in secret, but everyone can see how God rewards you and bless you in visible ways.
1) Why give? Understand the meaning and the mandate of giving is part of spiritual growth. We are not here only to receive but also to give. Giving makes us contributing members of God’s family and our community. It is very godly and Christian to be generous in giving both to God and to our fellow men. Always remember it is much better to give than to receive.
2) What give? Consider give you time. We all have 24 hours a day to spend. Give some of it to our family, friends, church and God. Spend time with God and people whom God has placed in our midst. Give also your talents. Do something for someone in your immediate surroundings. Be helpful, be willing and be diligent to help out at home, at work, in school and at church. Then give your resources. Give money to support God’s work in your home church. Give your tithe (10 percents of your income, before tax) and offerings to support other courses. Then give your love to those around you, lovable and no-so-lovable. God loves us even though we are not always lovable.
3) Give God: God wants to be your Lord and Savior. He wants to make you a blessing to many. Give Him your heart and life. Ask Him to forgive your sins and make you more useful and purposeful for Him and others. Your life can be much better if you allow God to lead your way.