Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. [Luke 6:38]. Other Readings: Genesis 4:3-4, 14:20, Leviticus 27:30-33 & Malachi 1:7-8, 3:8-10.
The question of giving brings us to ask how much should I give, who to give and when it is appropriate to do so. This has always bugged me a great deal and if you are like me, then I am not alone in this dilemma. Given the great deal of diverse teachings on the subject in Christian circles today, it indeed is a controversial subject that requires diligent study not only by biblical scholars; but also by all who ascribe to being Christians. This month’s topic is one that is too large to be adequately handled by a few words. None the less let us give it a try.
TO GOD FIRST.
Apostle Paul taught that we should first give ourselves to God as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). This means that every believer’s objective should be hooked to being in the service of the kingdom of God which according to John the Baptist, Jesus and all the disciples of yore and today; is at hand (near). It is near our homes, communities, churches and areas of influence. This principle is clearly implied in the opening verses of the Lord’s prayer. God comes first, (Matt 6:9-10), God’s name be hallowed and His kingdom be established here on earth as it is in heaven. Second, comes our provision and needs (Matt 6:11-13). Often than not we end up applying this divine principle in reverse. Me first and God last. How many times do we pray for finances and other blessings? When we have gotten them we proceed to exclude God in them! Suddenly He becomes last in our budgets and plans yet He was the first one we rushed to in prayer as our provider, Jehovah-Jireh.
TITHING AND OFFERING.
A lot has and still is being taught on tithing, offerings, sacrificial giving, first fruits and many other variants of giving. The Word of God is indeed full of all these stories on giving. Some exponents of the gospels of prosperity have taken it to dizzying heights. Many hearers indeed have gotten very beautiful revelations that have lead believers to tap into the blessings of God through application of biblical principles. Remember faith comes by hearing and it leads us to take action. Sadly though some have spun long yarns with wrong motives of gaining wealth at the expense of the unsuspecting believer. But thank God for He honors His Word whether given to us with wrong or right motives. It is His word and He watches it to perform. The big question that baffles many of us is how much is right to give?
Are we still stuck at the 10% rule of tithing?
To answer this question well we must understand that tithing came before the law and was later made as part of the Levitical rules in the Torah. The law could not achieve it’s purpose and hence in Mathew 5:16 Jesus says he has not come to destroy the law, but to fulfil it. This means that we are no longer under law but under Grace! (Romans 6:14-15). Does this mean no more tithing?
The bible says that you shall hear the truth and the truth shall set you free! Jesus is the Truth and when He (the Son) sets you free you shall be free indeed! Be free today in the area of giving! No one can out give God! Do not get me wrong brother, I am not saying that you should not tithe, NO! I am saying do not be bound by the 10% rule! If I were to be asked I would say let this be your lower limit in tithing. Abraham gave a tenth of all he had, Isaac and Jacob did and we belong to them by faith therefore we should also tithe. But, we are no longer under the law but under GRACE through Jesus Christ! This means we have fulfilled the Law in Christ and have an open ended law of giving as aptly put in our key scripture of Luke 6:38. Read it again
Apostle Paul told his hearers to follow him as he follows Christ. Jesus when confronted by the religious orders of his day on whether it was proper to pay tax to the emperor had an interesting statement; give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God. Simply put it means you and I are obligated to give what is right to the governor and what is right to God. But do we? When it comes to paying taxes, we dodge and when it comes to offering time in church we have a tendency to pull out the least valued notes in our wallets at best; and at worst we place into the offertory loose change! Yet we may be having more than we need. May God help us break loose from being stingy. This proverb puts it all very nicely;
One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. (Prov 11:24-25)
ABRAHAM GAVE ISAAC.
Abraham was promised a child by God and indeed after many years of waiting, God honored His promise (He always does!) and Isaac was born. Like Abraham and Sarah his wife, we tend to be impatient when our ‘Isaac’ does not come in our anticipated time frame and often try to help God along. Remember Hagar and Ishmael? Abraham the father of faith later got a tough test from God, sacrifice your only son Isaac for me. Abraham HEARD God and ACTED on God’s WORD. He gave his ‘only’ Isaac willingly and believed His God. If it was us today, I am sure we would have had a serious argument with God. I mean how can I let any of my children be sacrificed? God, would it not be better for the mother or me to be the sacrifice? Surely not my Child Lord… But not Abraham, he gave his only Isaac and no negotiations, not even his wife Sarah was privy to this.
At times it requires you, God and the sacrifice alone to be enter into certain transactions. Another party would only cause you to procrastinate and loose out on hearing God.
What would have happened if Sarah the one who carried Isaac for nine months had been told that her only child that she bore many years after menopause was now going to be slaughtered? She probably would have yelled…over my dead body and rightly so!
‘Isaac’ to us can come in many ways; Job, Business, Car, Time, Money etc. To me it came as letting go of my pay packet. End month you will agree with me is always those times when every employee feels on top of the world. I am no different, I feel most happy when I can be able to meet all my financial obligations.
In January 1997 while working at Equator Bottlers, Kisumu, Kenya. I attended a week’s revival teachings over lunch hour and during evening meetings in a local church. God spoke through His minister powerfully concerning godly giving. As the meeting progressed I knew it was ME that God was speaking to through the revelation of His Word concerning the area of finance. I needed to be delivered from stinginess when it comes to giving to God. It happened that that very Friday was pay day and in the evening it was the final meeting, there was no sitting room if one got late, so I rushed from the work place after pay to the meeting hall and took my seat. My pay packet was snuggly in my pocket. The word came powerfully and with heavy anointing and I believe that it was geared towards surgically operating on my financial meanness! I had this internal urge to give all and let God prove Himself. This was immediately followed by doubts; what about school fees, rent and shopping bill? Family needs rose up like a sphinx…. But the nice and gentle internal voice persisted… and won the struggle. I rose up and took that step of faith and pulled out my pay packet, removed the pay slip and I dropped it into the offertory. The minister then prayed and prophesied over those who had given all. I think out of the whole crowd, I saw about a dozen or so who had given their ‘Isaac’. Thereafter, I felt such joy that I cannot express here adequately. Only those who have ever given their ‘only Isaac’ would probably understand this. God took care of me in all my needs for that month until next pay. Despite not being understood by family and friends, I believe to this day, that act of faith saw the end of my financial stinginess in relation to the work of God when He directs me to be a part of it.
God was faithful to His word. One month later I got a job with UNICEF/OLS that paid me then 5 times what I was earning at the factory. This is God! When He says to you; Give and it shall be given back in multiples, believe God, take Him at His Word and act…fast!
There are times when we need to exercise the faith of Abraham in order to enter into certain blessings of God.
GOD GAVE OF HIMSELF.
God in his Word has clearly manifested himself as a giver. Any good and loving parent always gives to his children good gifts. God gave up his son Jesus to be crucified for us to be able to enter eternity (John 3:16). I think if Abraham had withheld Isaac and gave say Ishmael (Muslims believe that this was indeed so), then who knows – may be God would have not given Jesus but one of the Angels!
DAVID GAVE OF HIS SUBSTANCE
In preparation for the building of the temple of Solomon, the bible records that King David gave Gold, Silver and Bronze in plenty as well as other materials. He was rich and with his wealth he blessed the work of God. Many in this life have wealth and health but if asked to state how they are using them, we would be shocked speechless! I have heard of people who loose millions in gambling joints in one sitting! If only they could give to the hospices, orphanages and other equally good causes! This would be a far better and rewarding gamble as they would be giving loans to God who has promised to repay. He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done.
EVEN THE POOR GIVE TOO!
The bible has several instances where the poor and needy people gave of and from themselves to God and to others. The Widow of Zarephath gave in the days of Elijah (1 Kings 17:8-16) despite her dire need. The People of Jerusalem gave when Nehemiah was rebuilding the broken walls of Jerusalem. Remember the rich and learned had been taken to captivity and only the poor had remained in the land. Dorcas (Tabitha) the woman in the book of Acts 9:36-39 gave clothing to poor widows. None of the above missed their rewards. Jesus pointed out a poor old woman (Luke 21:1-4) that brought two mites into the offertory and testified that she had given more than the rich ruler! It was all she had.
DO NOT BE HINDERED NOR BE CARELESS.
Owing to abuse of the ministry of giving unto God and man, many givers have been discouraged especially when they see that which they have given being misused. God expects every giver to be wise and accountable in giving, it is good and proper to be convinced that you are doing it in line with God’s will for you. Continuing to give towards a worthless cause is not only being stupid but careless since you will be supporting sin.
Let us therefore not stop doing good by dispensing God’s grace bestowed on us, but while at it let us give God an opportunity to direct our giving, be it to His Kingdom or in service to fellow man.
DO NOT GIVE OUT OF SPITE.
Some people give out their very old rags that they themselves can no longer use. It is okay to give that which is still in good condition and we no longer use or have outgrown to those in need. God indeed loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7) and every gift to God’s work or His messengers is a good deposit in our heavenly account (Phil 4:15-17).
GIVE TO GOD AND TO MAN.
Yes, it is good to give to God and to Man as lead by God’s Spirit. Indeed the bible states that; it is blessed to give than to receive. Let me challenge you to give today to a cause that God has been leading you to but you have been holding back, may be due to uncertainty or fear of being taken advantage of. Let this WORD be yours and may you prosper in your giving. Give and it shall be given back to you; the measure you use will determine the measure of return. Do not get stuck at the 10% rule of tithing, but let that be your lower limit. God bless you as you give worthy offerings. The hands that bless shall be blessed in return.
PS: 19-03-2006. I have always wondered how Africa can be recieving donations from tiny Europe and elswhere yet we have all the resources we need. I no longer wonder, their citizens have been sensitized to a level where many donate a percentage of their incomes to national charitable organizations for use to support tragedies all over the world. We have opportunity to do the same in Africa, but how many of us working or wealthy do that? Kenya and many other nations in Africa have been witnessing terrible famines and I was impressed when the media and other organizations mobilized people to donate cash and kind. That is how God blesses a nation. Unfortunately, we also heard of embezzlements by those tasked to disburse relief supplies; that too is how curses occur.