It is the duty and privilege of every Christian to give to the Lord. As God’s people, we are called to honour the Lord with our substance and to return to Him our gifts for His rich blessings upon us: “Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase” (Prov 3: 9).
As we look further into this subject of giving, it is important to acknowledge that all that we have and own come from God. Christians are mere stewards of God’s manifold grace and blessings (I Pet 4: 10). Therefore, we must duly return a portion of our substance to Him Who has given so richly to us.
King David understood this principle of stewardship well when he prayed on behalf of his people: “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee” (I Chron 29: 14).
This truth helps us to understand Jesus’ commendation of the poor widow who cast her two mites into the treasury. She was commended by the Lord for casting in “all the living she had” (Lk 21: 3-4). Obviously, this poor widow understood that all that she owned belonged to the Lord. Thus, she faithfully returned to Him “all that she had” (Mk 12: 44).
What lessons can we learn from Scriptures about this important spiritual duty?
1. Giving is our response to God’s rich blessings upon us
In love, God sent His only Begotten Son to die for us on Calvary’s cross (Jn 3: 16) and to deliver us from sin’s bondage. Set at liberty from the yoke of sin, we are now enabled to live a life that is well- pleasing unto Him.
Moreover, as God’s people, we have been bountifully blessed by Him Who is “the Father of mercies” (II Cor 1: 3). Not only is God our Redeemer, He is our Creator, Provider, Sustainer and Defender. We enjoy good health, and mercies that are new every morning (Lam 3: 23). As such, it is only right that we, the recipients of His great favour, should express our love for Him through our gifts.
2. Give according to our ability
The apostle Paul exhorted the Corinthian believers to designate a certain portion as their offering to the Lord: “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come” (I Cor 16: 2).
We are to consider carefully our gifts to the Lord so that we can give prayerfully and meaningfully. The phrase “lay by him in store” – in the original Greek – has the idea of carefully setting apart a sum “when he is at home, when he can calmly look at the evidence of his prosperity. Let him do it, not under the influence of pathetic appeals, or for the sake of display when he is with others; but let him do it as a matter of principle, and when he is by himself” (Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible).
Giving to the Lord is the privilege of every believer. Whether rich or poor, young or old, every Christian is expected to contribute to God’s work according to their ability and the increase of their worldly substance – “as God hath prospered him”.
3. Give willingly and cheerfully
“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (II Cor 9: 6-7).
The offering of our substance to the Lord must not be done out of compulsion or coercion, but with a willing heart. We are to give as God has laid upon our heart, and “not grudgingly”. In the original, “grudgingly” means “with grief”. This teaches us that our giving should not cause us grief or regret.
God does not desire a generous gift that is given reluctantly. He does not look at the quantity of the gift but at the heart of the giver. He is pleased when we give cheerfully: “for God loveth a cheerful giver”.
“Valuable as any gift may be in itself, yet if it is forced and constrained; if it can be procured only after great importunity and persevering effort, who can esteem it as desirable? God desires the heart in every service. No service that is not cheerful and voluntary, none that does not arise from true love to him, can be acceptable in His sight” (ibid).
It is our happy privilege to give to the Lord Who has richly blessed us. As we consider what to offer to our Lord, let us be reminded that we are stewards of God’s bountiful grace and blessings. All that we have and own belong to Him. Let us prayerfully set aside our gifts as “as God hath prospered” us. Let us also give willingly and joyfully to the Lord for He “loveth a cheerful giver”.