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I’ve recently been studying New Testament financial giving i.e. tithes, offerings, free will offerings, first Fruits, etc. and I’ve kind of come to the conclusion that our primary motive for giving should be our love for God. God wants us to give cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:7), He wants us to give hilariously and he wants us to give because we love Him and the people that the
money will be used to bless.
God doesn’t need our finances; Bible says the cows on a thousand hills belong to him (Psalm 50:10), what would He ever need our money for.
But God’s interest if you like, in our giving is His love for us, He loves the people He created, He wants them cared for and provided for and because it would be illegal for God to print money in Heaven and just make it rain down on us, or automatically appear under our pillows or in our bank accounts He must use people. God wants His people to be blessed and to be a blessing. God wants to see the receiver blessed as much as the giver is being blessed. In fact He says that it is more blessed to give than to receive. He wants the Gospel spread far and wide, and that takes money. He wants to see the orphans being provided for, the homeless housed, fed and with clothes on their backs. Who else is He going to use except us believers?
The scripture in Matthew 25:31-46 depicts this very clearly.
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, He will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the
sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on His 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.
I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and The verse 40 in the scripture above says “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” what a statement. There is a direct correlation between what we do to men and what is perceived to have been done to Jesus Himself.
Whatever we do for one of Jesus’s brothers or sisters we have done for Him. I guess the reverse could also be said to be true in that whatever we might have done to hurt or offend one of His brothers or sisters, we have actually done to Him. That is why it is very important to be careful how we treat people especially His brothers and Sisters in the Household of
faith (Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Galatians 6; 10
Anyway, back to the topic at hand. The Macedonian Church was highly commended by Paul (See 2 Corinthians Chapter 8) in that they gave as much as they were able to give and even beyond their ability and in the midst of deep poverty and sever trial. However it is said of them that they “gave themselves first to the Lord” and then they were able to give to man.
The only way that they were able to give to man so freely, sacrificially and cheerfully, was because they had first of all given themselves whole heartedly, completely to the Lord. This would suggest that giving has a lot to do with the conditions of our hearts and it depends on the extent to which we are able to give ourselves to God. Giving is not primarily about money, it is about our heart and how much of our lives, our substance, our energy, our time etc. we are prepared to give to God.
Someone once said that a good way to measure our love for God would to go through our Bank statements and see how much of our finances were dedicated to God and His work.
One more thing I would like to bring to our attention is that the goal in giving was equality. “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.” (2 Corinthians 8:15, Exodus 16:18)
This is just like what operated in the Church of the Acts of the Apostles where - “they had things in common so that all had enough. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:44-47.
We had representatives from an International Communal movement of families and singles visit our Church last week. They came bearing gifts of a free book (Rich in years) for every member of our church.
The group is called Bruderhof (http://www.bruderhof.com/) and to quote from their website:
“Like the first Christians described in Acts 2 and 4, we feel called to a way of life in which all are of one heart and soul, no one possesses anything, and everything is shared in common. We also draw inspiration from the Anabaptists of the Reformation era who revived the early Christian example of discipleship in full community'.
Here in the UK, they have communities in East London, East Sussex and Kent. I was so fascinated about such a group and how they lived as a community, and I spoke to them and asked them how things worked in their community. They have their
own schools, and small businesses and they meet sometimes in people homes or in the community .
For so many of us I’m sure living as a community probably wouldn’t be our cup of tea. But the principle of love, of sharing, of giving, of seeing our brother or sister in need and coming to their aid, surely we can’t but agree with that.
Finally giving is a grace from God and Paul encourages believers to excel in this Grace (2 Corinthians 8:7), maybe for the blessings that come from giving, but more importantly because of our Love for God.
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