God Wants Your Heart
Strange as it may seem, God does not want you to give because He wants or needs your money. He wants you to give because He wants your heart. Jesus said, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21) A powerful, positive spiritual truth was stated when Jesus said, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." God wants you to be a faithful steward of your money because this is the way He gets your heart. If each member of the Walnut Street Church of Christ was a liberal giver this would mean God had all our hearts. The result of God having our hearts (every member being a liberal giver) would be that an amazing amount of work could be done to the glory of God.
God provides us with practical instructions to govern our giving. He gave these instructions to the church in Corinth. These instructions apply also to Christians in Greenville, Alabama. Paul said, "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come." (1 Corinthians 16:1-2)
Our giving should be planned giving. Christians must plan and budget for New Testament giving. Each Christian should, "lay by him in store" or "put aside and save" something for giving. Christians must purpose to give. "So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians 9:7) Decide what you will give ahead of time and this will avoid the mistake of "impulse giving." You should decide ahead of time what you will give. Pray about your giving and make a commitment to give that certain amount. Planned giving pays.
Our giving should be regular and first-fruit giving. Christians must give regularly. Our giving has a pattern. "On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come." (1 Corinthians 16:2) We do not give out of surplus or at irregular intervals. We do not give out of what's left at the end of the month. God does not want leftovers. He wants first-fruits. "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." (Matthew 6:33) Look at how God has blessed you. Decide what you will give this week based on how good God has been to you. Make God your "first creditor." Your giving is to be a free-will offering of your first-fruits given to God!
Our giving should be proportionate giving. Paul said, "On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come." (1 Corinthians 16:2) God does not want you to give a portion, but rather He wants you to give a proportion. God blesses those who sow (give) bountifully. "But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians 9:6-7) Recognizing ownership helps us know that all we have belongs to God. Many passages teach that we are stewards and not owners. Consider the following:
When we give we are giving of God's own. "But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly as this? For all things come from You, and of Your own we have given You." (1 Chronicles 29:14)
Everything under heaven belongs to God. "Who has preceded Me, that I should pay him? Everything under heaven is Mine." (Job 41:11)
The earth and all its fullness belongs to the Lord. "The earth is the Lord's, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein." (Psalm 24:1)
The cattle, beasts, and all things belong to God. "For every beast of the forest is Mine, And the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains, And the wild beasts of the field are Mine." (Psalm 50:10-11)
The silver and gold belongs to God. "The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine, says the Lord of hosts." (Haggai 2:8)
Even our souls belong to God. "Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine; the soul who sins shall die." (Ezekiel 18:4)
If you are a Christian you belong to God. "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
The heaven, earth, and everything in it belongs to God. "Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the Lord your God, also the earth with all that is in it." (Deuteronomy 10:14)
Giving is made so much easier when I recognize: (1) God's ownership of everything (Psalm 50:10-11), and (2) the blessing which come from giving. "He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch." (Proverbs 11:28) I do not own anything.
Our giving should be a proof of our love. Paul spoke of our giving as a test of the sincerity of our love. "I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of your love by the diligence of others." (2 Corinthians 8:8) He also referred to our giving as a proof of our love. "Therefore show to them, and before the churches the proof of your love and of our boasting on your behalf." (2 Corinthians 8:24) God's giving stands as a proof of His love for us. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) Just think what could be done if every member of the Walnut Street Church of Christ had the same attitude about giving that God has!
Money is neither good nor bad; but, it is always powerful. What is your attitude about giving? Our attitude will determine the amount we give and the blessing we receive from giving. To become a Christian you must hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus as the Christ (Mark 16:16), repent of all sins (Acts 17:30), confess Christ as Lord (Romans 10:9-10) and be baptized for remission of sins. (Acts 2:38) After baptism remain faithful to God. (Revelation 2:10) Life on earth is always better when we learn to give.
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, 306 Walnut Street, Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA