In my last article, we considered spending time in devotion and
service to God by giving into the church treasury. We concluded
our study suggesting that by giving, we turn our financial efforts
into service and devotion to God because we are constantly working
in service to Him. We not only give into the church treasury, but
we must also provide for our families (I Tim. 5:8) and work to have
financial ability to give to others who are in need (Eph. 4:28;
I Tim. 6:17-19).
The first point I want to make is that one's obligation to give
is not completely fulfilled by giving into the church treasury.
As noted in the opening paragraph, we individually have financial
obligations, to the Lord, besides those laid upon the church. Paul
says: "But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially
for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse
than an unbeliever. ... If any believing man or woman has widows,
let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that
it may relieve those who are really widows." (I Tim. 5:8, 16)
Here, Paul notes an instance wherein an individual is to be charitable
so that the church is not burdened. We will study personal obligations
of charity in future articles, but remember that giving into the
church treasury is only one part of our responsibility to give.
We have more information concerning giving in II Corinthians chapters
eight and nine than any other Scripture. Paul had encouraged several
churches to prepare a gift for the Judean saints. He gave the command
to the Corinthians in his first epistle (I Cor. 16:1-4). In II Corinthians
8-9 Paul encourages the brethren to finish what they had begun a
year ago and informs them of his plan to come to them with brethren
In II Corinthians 8:1-9 Paul gives examples of the Macedonians
and Jesus who gave of themselves so that others may prosper. The
Macedonians gave beyond their ability (vs. 3) and in so doing gave
themselves over to poverty (vs. 2) so that they may have fellowship
in the ministering to the saints (vs. 4). Jesus also gave. He self-impoverished
Himself so that we may become rich with eternal life (vs. 9). The
examples Paul uses to introduce his lesson on giving teach that
we are to give liberally (vs. 2). And in giving liberally, we make
This lesson of liberal giving is easily exemplified in these two
stories. There was a mother who was told that she would most likely
die if she gave birth to her child. Her doctor gave her the option
of aborting the child. She inquired and found that the baby had
a 50 percent chance of living even if she died in childbirth. Her
decision was to give the baby a chance to live at the risk of losing
her life. The mother died, and the baby lived a normal life. Did
the mother give liberally? Did the mother become poor so that the
baby could become rich?
The second story comes from Luke 21:1-4 and says: "Then He
looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury,
and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He
said, 'Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than
all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings
for God, but she out of her poverty has put in all the livelihood
that she had.'"
When it comes to giving, the amount is not what is important. Besides
our heart, the amount in relationship to all that we have is what
we must analyze. For example, it is nothing for the rich to give
10 percent of their income because they give out of their abundance.
But, it is difficult for the poor to give 10 percent because it
comes out of their poverty. What is the lesson here? We must all
turn ourselves over to poverty - not just the poor. Also, for us
who are rich, we should not think it a big thing to give our 10
or 20 percent because there are poor people, in relative terms,
giving more than us.
The point is that Christians freely and liberally give to an extent
of living impoverished compared to how they would otherwise live.
This does not mean that we must live on the streets and that our
families must go hungry. But it means that we will give up earthly
things so that others may prosper spiritually and physically. We
may drive a used car instead of a new car so that we can give liberally.
And, we may live in a less expensive house so that we can give liberally.
Simply put, we must give up some of earth's treasures so that we
may "be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share,
storing up ... a good foundation for the time to come ... lay hold
on eternal life. (I Tim. 6:18-19)
Lord willing, we will continue these thoughts next time. It requires
a deep faith and love for God to give as we are taught in the Bible.
Our faith gives us confidence that by supplying to others in time
of need and by giving to accomplish the work of the church, we will
never be without life's necessities. This may be the greatest test
of our faith. Ask yourself: Am I passing the test?