Gifts and Giving
Gifts are voluntarily given by a benefactor, bestowed by choice on another. This is in contrast to what is demanded, obligated or expected for services rendered such as wages or items bought. A gift is of no real value until received and enjoyed by putting to its intended use.
Giving reflects God’s generous nature, as the expression of giving is a natural response to love.
The more you give of yourself, the more you receive (Prov 11:24). A farmer who looked for a crop to harvest without first having sown seed beforehand would have little basis for such optimism.
Giving should be in proportion to what we have been given, is appropriate and can be afforded.
The Bible mentions much about giving including: “Give and it will be given unto you" (Lk 6:38); “If we sow sparingly we will reap a sparse harvest but if we sow generously there will be abundance” (2 Cor 9:6-14); Giving and doing good works should come from a pure motive of dedication to the Lord and love for people, not seeking a reward or public recognition (Mt 6:3); “Give as freely as you have received” (Mt 10:8); “To those who much has been given, much will be required” (Lk 12:48); Jesus, when He came to earth gave up His power, glory and rights so we might become rich (2 Cor 8:9); “If the willingness is present the gift is acceptable” (2 Cor 8:12); “Our plenty should provide for other’s needs, maybe sometime their plenty can provide for our needs and so we should learn to give and receive, humbly accepting and not refusing through pride” (2 Cor 8:13,14); Paul said, “I’m not looking for a gift but what will be accredited to your heavenly account by such an action” (Phil 4:17); “It is more blessed to give than receive” (Act 20:35); “We must give account of every word, and action” (Mt 12:36; Rom 14:12); “What can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mt 16:26).
The Bible encourages us to be liberal givers, with any giving done without drawing attention to it whether to our local church, Christian ministries or directed to those who are struggling in life and require a hand-up (Mt 6:1-4; Act 2:45; Rom 15:26).
Giving financially is not to become an area of bondage or condemnation, because Christianity is not a performance ‘obeying the rules’ based religion but a love relationship with Jesus whereby each person gives as they have decided in their heart (2 Cor 9:7). The prosperity doctrine and manipulation place a distorted emphasis on giving. Our gifts of kindness to others is an expression of compassion, reflecting the nature of God. This should not lead to dependency by the receiver or be used as manipulation by the giver, but a genuine gesture of love in action (Rom 12:13; 2 Cor 8:13-15; Jas 2:16).
Giving can classified as:
1/. God to man
God gave His Son – the greatest gift giver ever!
godliness…” to accomplish His purposes, this includes the Holy Spirit to guide and purify (Mt 7:11; Lk 11:13; Act 2:38; Jas 1:17; 2 Pet 1:3). It is He who gives various gifts and abilities to individuals as He chooses (1 Cor 12:7-11, 14:1-5; Heb 2:4). Spiritual gifts bring encouragement and strength so do not neglect them, rather with divine love use these supernatural abilities to benefit the body of Christ and bring Him glory (Rom 1:11,12:6-8; 1 Cor 13:1-3 ; 1 Tim 4:14; 2 Tim 1:6; 1 Pet 4:10).
2/. Man to God
OT sacrifices and offerings presented to God were to be the best quality with no sickly or second-best items permitted (Lev 22:19-25). This was a foreshadowing of the perfect, sinless life of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 5:21; Heb 4:15; 1 Pet 2:22; 1 Jn 3:5). We are to honour God by giving Him the first part of our income (Prov 3:9,10; Mal 3:10). David said, “I can’t give to the Lord what costs me nothing” – inferring there must be a price tag to be of value (2 Sam 24:24; 1 Chr 21:24). Even meager resources, offered to Christ can miraculously be multiplied as in the feeding of a multitude with a boy’s lunch (Lk 9:12-17). Although the rich gave greater amounts it was out of their surplus with the motive to impress others while the humble widow gave all as a sacrifice, even giving beyond her ability – what she needed to live on (Mt 6:2-4; Mk 12:41-44; 2 Cor 8:2-4). The size of a gift is not as important as the motive and cost to the giver – not how much is given, rather how much is left.
Do I give God my all?
further His Kingdom (Lk 10:39; Rom 12:1). Salvation is His gift to me; my life lived for God is my gift to Him. Jesus gave His life for us, can we with a clear conscience do any less than giving our total self to Him (this includes loyalty, commitment and submission to His authority) as His servants to do with us as He sees fit (Mk 12:30; Lk 17:10; 1 Pet 3:18). In heartfelt gratitude we should say, “Not my will but yours be done”. In giving ourselves to Him we don’t lose; it is giving what we can’t keep to gain what we can’t lose (Mk 8:35-37). Any subsequent giving should be an extension of having first offered ourselves to the Lord (2 Cor 8:5).
God’s Kingdom operates on a ‘giving and receiving’ basis, the worlds system on a ‘buy and sell’ basis. His intention is to bless us with everything we need, then from our resources to be a blessing to others. Insufficiency in the lives of God’s people does little to glorify Him as their provider. Nor does the Bible condone giving that incurs great hardship by giving beyond a person’s capability to meet their basic personal needs and family responsibilities, unless He gives a specific ‘faith' challenge.
Giving reminds us of the source of our provision. “Remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth’’ – even our ability to give to God is dependent on the fact that God gives to us first before there can be giving to others (Deut 8:18; 1 Chr 29:14-19).
Although tithing is not mentioned in the NT there is a high level of encouragement to live compassionately, thoughtfully and generously towards the disadvantaged, the ministries and people extending the Kingdom of God (Mt 25:31-46; 2 Cor 8:13,14; 1 Thes 2:7-9; 1 Tim 5:3-8,18). “See that you excel in this grace of giving. I am not commanding you...Each should give what he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion for God loves a cheerful giver” (1 Cor 8:7,8; 2 Cor 9:7). Such giving to God is primarily a response of personal gratitude or devotion to a generous God, not a mechanical duty. Money represents life (the time and effort taken to earn it). Therefore, when you give (or don’t give) you are giving (or not giving) of yourself to God. Produce, service (time) and finance are all valid ways of giving to God’s Kingdom.
Being generous results in many blessings. “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper...” (Ps 112:5-9; Prov 3:9,10, 11:24,25). “With the same measure you use to others is the same measure we receive” (Lk 6:38). By giving, this guarantees we will receive, and with the same proportion that we have sowed – either generous or sparingly (2 Cor 9:6; Gal 6:7). As giving is a key to receiving sow the kind of harvest you want to reap.
Love for God and a desire to see the extension of His Kingdom should be the motive to sowing or giving to God, not just to receive back.
For our gift to be acceptable to God any reconciliation or putting matters right with Him or our fellow humans should take place before presenting our offering to Him (Mt 5:23,24). From a life and conscience free of sin (through addressing the sin by repentance on our part and forgiveness on His part) fellowship and relationship can occur, because sin blocks the life flow.
3/. Man to man
How do I bless others?
friends (Prov 18:16, 19:6). We are to give generously to others in need, in fact not to respond is contrary to God’s standard (Rom 12:8; 1Jn 3:17). We are also to “give others what we owe them” (Rom 13:7). This includes, a smile extended, a compliment or word of encouragement given, an appropriate helpful action done, or a physical gift which will bless the recipient and we will be rewarded (Mk 9:41). We should do to others as we would like done to us if we were in their position, especially to those who will never be able reciprocate (Mt 25:31-46; Lk 6:31, 14:12-14).