|Giving Joyously by Pastor Lee R. Harder|
Have you ever noticed how nobody wants to spend time considering the "G" word? What is the "G" Word? GIVING. Right away we think money, dollars and cents, in an offering plate. While that's a part of what giving is about, it's a small part. We don't like talking about giving, either out of exasperation or fear. Yet, Christians can't avoid the subject, because the Bible spends a whole lot of time talking about it. In the Bible, giving is considered a thing of joy. Remember the verse in 2 Corinthians that goes, "God loves a cheerful giver." In truth, I think God loves a hilarious giver.
The joy of giving finds its soul in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. John 3:16 proclaims, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."
At Calvary, Jesus gave His life for our sins, even the sin of our stinginess. With His death and resurrection, Jesus paid the price of our sinfulness -- all of it for each of us. That's real giving!
While Jesus endured great suffering and knew sorrow better than anyone, He is also a man who took joy in His work on the cross. Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us, "Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of God."
This joyous Gospel of Christ is the foundation of all Christian giving. He gave His life for us; we give to Him in return. Or at least that is the way it's supposed to work. Because of His saving Word, we should be transformed, thus living in new ways. Everything we have, we are, we will become is from Him. He has given us eternal salvation. He has given us all that pertains to this body and life we call our own.
In truth, our clothing, house, fields, cattle, all our possessions come from Him. They're just on loan to us to use while we live in this world. If our faith is genuine, then we want to use these gifts given in His service. We do so joyfully.
When we work at the vocations we have been called to, no matter what they might be, we are giving of ourselves in ways that benefit others, as well as ourselves. Thus God blesses all.
We also give to the Lord when we support the ministries and mission of the church in the congregation. Jesus says, "Where two or three are gathered in My name, there I am in among them." (Matthew 18:20). When we give in the local congregation, we give to Him.
Naturally, there are the typical things -- utilities, salaries, materials, and such -- that must be paid for. However, they won't trouble us in heaven because they are of the world.
For the time being, we will joyfully contribute to the work of the congregation in obedience to the Lord, who loves a cherrful giver. In this way, the church can support greater ministries beyond the local congregation, because giving is never about ourselves but about reaching out to help others. Call it Gospel Giving! God spoke to His people in Malachi 3:10 saying, "Bring then full tithes into the storehouse. That there may be food in My house. And thereby put Me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need."
As we consider our giving, sometimes we look at our resources and wonder how on earth we are going to make ends meet to cover our expenses. God's promise is that when we honor Him with our resources and set aside a portion for His service, then He will help us stretch those resources and more.