Giving what God has Given (2 Cor 8-9, 1 Cor 16)

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Giving What God Has Given

Tough Stuff–2 Corinthians 8 & 9, 1 Corinthians 16

A man inherited multi-millions, but he had a weak heart.  His wife asked his pastor to break the news to him so he wouldn’t have a heart attack.  The pastor said, “Sure.”  He thought about it, then came to the man, and asked him, “Bob, what would you do if you inherited millions of dollars?”

Bob said, “Pastor, I’d give half of it to the church.”  Right then, the pastor died of a heart attack.

Why so funny?  I think, because we have funny attitudes about giving.  As shepherds, our elders are continually burdened with the struggles and pains of our family, and want to address from God’s Word the issue of finances.  Many are struggling, many are hurting, many do not have a Biblical mindset when it comes to being a steward of their money, time and gifts, and it is shown most clearly through the issue of giving.  So out of love for you, and a desire to help you begin to order your financial world . . .

#1  Why do we struggle with giving?

Giving has always been a problem for God’s people.  Turn to Malachi 1:6-8, between Genesis and Revelation (the last Old Testament book).  Here the Israelites were giving God less than their best, so in verse 6 God says, “’A son honors his father, and a servant his master. Then if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My respect?’ says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests who despise My name.  But you say, ‘How have we despised Thy name?’  ‘You are presenting defiled food upon My altar.’  But you say, ‘How have we defiled Thee?’  ‘When you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil?  And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil?  Why not offer it to your governor?  Would he be pleased with you?  Or would he receive you kindly?’  says the Lord of hosts.”

When it came time to show their love for God, they were to go to their flocks, and pick out the best sheep–Lambo . . . rippling mutton, long attractive curly fleece–and give their best offering to the Lord.  They should give their best–that’s why it’s called a sacrifice.  But they were giving Wwwwimpy sheep . . . their leftover, sick, blind, I’m-not-gonna-eat, breed or sell this lamb, so I guess I’ll just give it to the Lord.  And the Lord was offended.

Like the Israelites who wouldn’t give their best, but only their leftover, ready-to-die lambs to the Lord.  Many so-called church-going Christians give only what is extra or leftover.  Believers often forget God their Father can be grieved.  Those careless, after-thought, sick lamb offerings wound God deeply.

At offering time, everyone has the opportunity to give God a lamb.  The kind you select from your herd is a strong signal to God as to how you feel about Him, and He takes careful note of each and every offering that’s offered.

If you grab an easily expendable lamb, loose change, or that $20 bill, that’s a signal to God, isn’t it?

If you grab a mid-range lamb, one you haven’t given much thought or prayer to, that’s a signal to God.

But if you take time, pray, bring to God the best lamb you have, and give it to Him in worship, that delights God, and sends a signal to Him of how you feel about Him.

In practical terms, that’s not your life savings or your kid’s piggy bank, but a generous portion of your earnings each pay period.  God cares about the kind of offerings you bring to Him each week, because it reflects the kind of love you have toward Him.  But with the Israelites, it got so bad, God told the people, “You’re literally robbing me.”  Turn to Malachi 3:8-10, “Will a man rob God?  Yet you are robbing Me!  But you say, ‘How have we robbed Thee?’ In tithes and offerings.  ‘You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you!  ‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘if I will not open for you the windows of heaven, and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.’”

God considered it robbery the way the Israelites were giving so poorly.  But instead of leaving them in their guilt, God says in verse 10, “Test me.”  Give the way you are supposed to, and watch how I will bless your life in ways you can’t even imagine . . . wow.  All these gifts coming into the storehouse were providing food for the Levitical families who served in the worship services in Israel.  It’s like supporting pastors and missionaries.

The Bible says, if you bring your gifts into the storehouse and leave them there, God promises to open the windows of heaven.  He’s talking about rain.  He’s going to bring rain so their crops will yield more than they ever dreamed; because they’re doing what God says, they’re honoring Him by bringing in the offering; therefore they’ll receive an earthly blessing from God.

Rain for farmers meant wealth for farmers.  That’s the truth, but many of us don’t experience blessing from God because our motives are wrong.  If your motive is giving in order to get more money, then you’ll not be blessed.  That’s the problem with the health/wealth movement and those pro-wrestler pastors on TV.

If all that’s true, then why do you and I still struggle with giving?  Let me offer three reasons–you’ll have more, but here are three . . .

First   A wrong worldview

We battle with giving when we have an external, temporal and pleasure-seeking perspective.  It is only when we see things from God’s perspective that we don’t struggle with giving.     When our hearts are focused on the internal, eternal and God’s glory, we will give.  But we need new eyes to see things God’s way.  It’s not complicated–we live for heaven or earth?  We live for Christ or self?  We live for God’s purposes expressed through His Church, or we live for our pleasures expressed in our toys?  We live to see how much money we can make and enjoy, or we live to see how much money we can use for His glory?

Do you only see the giants in the Promised Land, or can you see a God who can wipe out all obstacles to accomplish His purposes?  Are you willing to leave that which is familiar like Abraham in faith, or are you hanging on to all your things in fear?  Is your budget and money held on to with a closed fist, or are all your possessions and money held in an open hand before God?

And in order for us to give, we have to see things from God’s perspective, with a Biblical worldview, with the reality of eternity clearly in mind.  When we give, we are investing in eternity.  But our problem is also that we have . . .

Second   A weak view of God

Turn to Revelation 4.  You and I often forget who God is, so we give $5-$10-$20 per week.  Do the math, $20 per week is $1040 a year.  If that’s 10%, that means you make $10,400 per year.      If you give $20 per week, and you make $50,000, that is giving only 2% of your income.  What is wrong with us?  Some of us think we are really doing God a favor, doing our duty, or making some huge sacrifice, when it is God who owns all of it anyway, right?

Who gave you life?  God.  Then, Who gave you eternal life?  God.  Revelation 4 and 5 tell us we will be worshiping God forever for giving us life, then eternal life–4:11, “Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created.”  And 5:12, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.”

All true Christians are doubly indebted to God, Who not only gave us life, but after we rebelled sought us out and bought us back so we could have eternal life with Christ in eternal heavenly bliss forever, when we should be in hell in torment.  That is why I Corinthians 6:19 says, “you are not your own,” or 1 Corinthians 4:7, “what do you have that you did not receive?”  There is nothing we give to God we did not first receive from Him.  That’s why I titled this message, “Giving What God Has Given.”  Even as believers . . .

God gives us gifts, so we can give Him ministry through those gifts

God gives us love, so we can love Him and others

God gives us joy, so we can enjoy Him and share His joy

God gives us the Gospel personally, so we can share the Gospel

God gives us material gain, in order to give to Him and others

God gave us life, new life, to give our lives to Him

Everything we have and everything we are belongs to God.  Your body belongs to God.  Your ability, your job, your time is all a gift from God.  Psalm 50:12 tells us the world is God’s, and all it contains; Psalm 50:10, He owns the cattle on a thousand hills.  God is not broke, He owns it all, and it’s our responsibility to be good stewards of what He has given us.

He has given some to you to manage for Him.  And part of that management involves giving your resources for His work in the world to and through His Church.  All you and I give was first given to us by God.  But because of a weak view of God and a worldly perspective, we struggle with giving, and because we’re . . .

Third   Unwilling to surrender our lives to Christ

Like Romans 12:1 says, “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”  Because Christ gave His life for us, which can never be reversed or taken away from us, God calls us to give our lives to Him.

And what is the acid test of the reality of your surrender?  What’s the absolute proof you’ve given your heart to Christ, where your life is surrendered to him?  Jesus told us in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  Why do we struggle with giving?  Simply because we have a heart problem–our hearts are not His.  We have not given up our life to Christ, we have an earthly perspective and a weak view of God.

#2  Why do we give to God?

Why does Jesus teach on money more than heaven or hell combined?  Why do Christians give their money to the Church?   And to make it more personal, what does God think about your giving patterns?  Why do we give to God?–because God first gave to us.

First  Our giving comes from a heart changed by salvation by grace–our giving is from grace

Turn over to 2 Corinthians 8 and look at the example of the impoverished Macedonians.  Verses 1 and 2 state, “And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.”

The word used for “their extreme poverty” is where we derive the English word bathysphere referring to depth.  The Macedonians were at the bottom depth of poverty–they were really poor.  Being poor Biblically doesn’t mean thinking twice before going out to dinner, but it means being uncertain as to whether you will be able to feed your family at all.  And the Macedonians were under the most severe trial.  Literally, they were being squeezed by the difficulties of their life.  Their situation was impossible:  grinding poverty and severe trials.

But out of it came incredible grace, and their extreme poverty and severe trials mixed with overflowing joy, “welled up in rich generosity.”  This was the grace of giving.  But this is nothing.  Listen to what else Paul says about them in verses 3 and 4:  “For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.  Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.”

They gave “beyond (lit. “contrary to”) their ability”.  They pleaded with Paul for the privilege to give, not Paul pleading with them.   Can you hear these starving folks, “Please let us give, Paul.”  A congregation pleading with its leaders to let them give more . . . the grace of giving has nothing to do with being well-off.  It’s not dictated by ability.  It’s a willingness to give.  Giving is viewed as a privilege.  It’s a joyously enthusiastic attitude that pleads for the opportunity to give more.

What produces such giving?  Paul gives the answer in verse 5, “And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will.”  Their remarkable giving was the result of their first giving themselves to God.  It’s so simple: when someone has given all to God, giving to others becomes the natural result.  You see, it’s easy to surrender part when you have already given the whole.

All giving starts with our Father, who gave us everything we have.  Aren’t you thankful we have a giving God, for life and eternal life?  Our Lord Jesus has given, and continually gives to you and me everyday.  Romans 8:31-32, “If God is for us who is against us, He who did not spare His own Son . . . will He not also with Him, freely give us all things?”  Galatians 1:3-4, “The Lord Jesus Christ who gave Himself for our sins”–God is a giving God.  Jesus gave up His very life for us on the cross, therefore, in contrast to our culture, and in order to bring God glory, the Bible calls all who love Jesus to give like Jesus gave.  Salvation by grace creates a passion to give.

Second  Our giving demonstrates our commitment to God

2 Corinthians 9:6-7, “Now this I say, he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully.  Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.”  There is no force from the Lord here, no grudging, guilt-motivated giving.  But giving is a demonstration of our commitment to Christ, and an expression of our faith– if we give a lot, we believe God and will receive a lot now and later, but if we don’t, we won’t.

Jesus says basically the same thing in Luke 6:38, “Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”  Jesus spoke a lot about money and is very interested in your giving and your money.  He knows what you have left, He knows about your bills, and He knows about our excuses; He knows when we are willing to be good stewards and when we refuse to be, and He knows how tight our finances are.

Jesus is constantly bringing up the issue of money in the Gospels.  We come up with little clichés like “the church is always asking for money.”  No, it’s not.  This body isn’t.  Why did you say that?  What screen are you putting up to protect your interest?  The Word of God boldly teaches us about giving, and since we teach the whole Bible here, we’ll teach on money, because money demonstrates your commitment and faith.

Third  Our giving brings us reward

Turn to Matthew chapter 6.  Many of us have worked hard, and have received some form of earthly reward–a thank you note, a gift or a blessing we never expected.  Others of us have worked hard, and have received little.  But one day God will straighten it all out, for He is going to give us an eternal heavenly reward.  Why do I give my money?  For a heavenly reward–verse 4, “That your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”

Is God going to reward you for what you’ve done?  You bet.  No cup of cold water given in His name will miss being rewarded by our Father in the future–the only condition God puts on it is this.  It is to be given with the right motive, and in His strength.  Friends, as you give to the ministry of the Church, you share in the eternal reward of every soul saved, every church planted, every leader trained and sent out, and every Christ-like change.  You’re a part of it as you give.  Turn over to 1 Corinthians 9.  Why do we give?

Fourth  Our giving supports those who preach the Gospel

I’m for helping everybody, but I have a real hesitancy in supporting any charitable organization that doesn’t tell people correctly how to go to heaven.  I can give all of my money to help someone in poverty, to feed the hungry or medically heal them, and I should as God leads.  But if they go to hell, what have I done for them?  Sure I have demonstrated Christ–that’s good, but I have to think ultimately of their eternity as my major passion. Never forget, everyone’s greatest need is salvation, and God wants us to take as many men and women, students, boys and girls as we possibly can.

I also understand God has given us a responsibility to care for creation.  But I don’t understand the Christians who give all their money to “kiss the kitties” foundation (cats!).  How can we, when so many people are headed for eternal punishment in hell?  1 Corinthians 9 is summarized in verse 14, “So also the Lord directed [not suggested, but commanded] those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel.”  We need to support the work of the Gospel–those who preach the Gospel and establish churches worldwide.

Be careful to give to those who do good things in the name of Christ, but then undermine the authority of the Word of God, teach a shallow Gospel and don’t see the church as the primary place to reach the world.  So . . . giving shows our commitment, we receive eternal reward, and supports those who preach the gospel, but we could also add we honor God, receive earthly blessing and supply the needs of others by giving.  The entire reason we give can be summarized under . . .

Fifth  Our giving glorifies God

When you give your money, you glorify God.  You say, “How does that work, Chris?”

Second Corinthians 9:7-11 says God gives you all He has, and God has blest you the way He has, because He wants you to be generous.  Look at verse 12-13, “This service [his offering] that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people, but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God, because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will glorify God… for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.”

I know missionaries who prayed for God to meet their needs without telling anyone else.  When a family met that need, they praised God for His answered prayer.  They gave God glory.  The family that met the need didn’t think much about it–but because the missionaries were praying for it, they praised God for it.  They gave God glory for meeting the need.  God gets glorified, thanked, honored and praised as we give sacrificially.  Are you a sacrificial giver?  You ask, what does that mean?

#3  How do we give money to God?

I believe the Bible talks about three different levels of giving.  Level one is for every true Christian, single or family, and it’s found in 1 Corinthians 16:1-4.

Level One  Regular Giving

First Corinthians 16:1 tells us our regular giving is to be given to and through the local church, and verse 2 tells us how, “On the first day of every week, let each one of you put aside and save, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come.”  How do we give to God?

First  The Period—Weekly Verse 2 says the most appropriate period for giving is weekly, on the first day of every week.  God’s Word says giving should be systematic.  Set aside the money for your offering “on the first day of every week.”

Our giving should not be based on periodic emotional appeals, on bonus income, thermometers, or passionate cries for help, but on a regular, willing and grateful commitment of our possessions to the Lord, to His people and to His work, for His glory.  Now this isn’t a legalistic standard to make sure you drop something in the plate each week, especially for those who are paid monthly or occasionally, but giving is a part of worship.  It’s a part of being a New Covenant priest offering up spiritual sacrifices to God, and even when we have nothing to give on some particular Sunday, we should be sensitive to the needs of the church and to our part in meeting them.  The tense here literally calls us to “keep putting aside and saving.” Our giving is to be a consistent, regular part of our worship.  So let me ask you–do you support your church regularly, faithfully?

But you say, “God can’t possibly be speaking to me.  I’m bankrupt, broke, poor.  We’re new.  I’m on Social Security.  I’m in College and I eat Top Ramen.”  Who is God talking to here?

Second   The participants–Each one of you Look at verse 2 again, “Let each one of you.”

That’s pretty all-inclusive.  God through Paul makes it clear here that no Christian is exempted or excused.  Giving isn’t just for the wealthy, long-standing members or adults.  Everybody is to give.  Our generosity to the Lord’s work is best determined by what we give when we have little.  We’re still stewards of whatever the Lord has given us, no matter how little it may be in economic terms.  Are you contributing to the financial health of your local church?

But where are we supposed to invest our treasure so it counts for heaven?   Some will say, “I count my child’s camp fee as my offering.”  Or, “I buy Christian T-shirts as my offering.”  Where does God say level one regular giving goes?

Third  The place–The Church Just as giving is primarily for the Church, it’s also primarily to and through the Church.  In the first account of Christian giving in Acts 2, when the Church was new and unorganized, Christians shared directly with each other as needs arose.  Shortly after that time, in Acts 4:35 and 37, Christians began bringing gifts to the apostles for them to distribute.  The basic pattern established in Acts was to bring offerings to the Church to be disbursed as the leaders saw fit.

Paul says the same thing in 1 Corinthians 16–the first day of the week implies giving as a part of Christian worship on Sunday.  He says in verse 2, “Let each one of you put aside and save,” which means a storehouse or treasury where valuables are stored.  The church had a safe or some designated place to put the offerings that people brought as part of their worship.

The first day of the week is the day of worship, so how believers handle their money is completely tied to the depth of their worship.  That means, if we don’t give properly, we can’t worship properly.  As Jesus said in Luke 16:10-11, “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much.  If therefore you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous mammon, money who will entrust the true riches to you?”  Many Christians are ineffective because they are untrustworthy with money and material things.   As you examine how you give, you’ll know whether you’re trustworthy to minister to people, who are much more valuable than money.  But how much are we to give?  What does God say?

Fourth   The proportion–As you may prosper Verse 2 says, “On the first day of every week, let each one of you put aside and save, as he may prosper.”  Giving is to be proportionate to what we receive.  As you may prosper means according to how well you’re doing.  But how much of my check, what percentage?

The Old Testament required over 25% a year for festivals, taxes, the poor and supporting the priesthood.  Then beyond that, they’d give some freewill offerings–the total was about 33%.  In Christ, in this age, true giving is by grace–you are not under law, nor are you without the law of love.  That means your giving is not because you have to, or because you ought to, but true Christians give because they want to.  Do you really want to?

If you are looking for a starting place, 10% is generally accepted as a target for believers.  Most people in the church end up giving $20 to $1040 year–typically with our salaries, that means 1/10th of a percent, up to 4%.  The national average now is less than 2%–wow.  But New Testament giving is defined by two key terms showing two crucial attitudes of New Testament giving.

Giving is to be 1) sacrificial, like our Savior who, as the Holy Son of God, enjoying perfect unbroken fellowship with the Godhead, became on the cross an object of God’s wrath for your sake.  Because of that kind of sacrifice, we are to be sacrificial in our giving towards him.  As 2 Corinthians 8:9 says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.”

Giving is to be like Christ, sacrificial, which is different for each person here–different in amount, but equal in sacrifice.  Is your giving truly sacrificial?  Sacrifice has nothing to do with your wants, but has everything to do with your needs.

Giving is also to be 2) joyful, even hilarious.  As 2 Corinthians 9:7 reminds us, “Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.”  The word cheerful is hilaros, where we get our word hilarious.  God wants us to give with joy–freely, not because we have to, ought to, but want to.  The amount of our paychecks may differ, but we should all have the same attitude toward giving.

Do you give cheerfully?  Or when the offering plate is passed, do you have to forcibly remove your whitened knuckles from around the check or that $20 bill?  Is your giving a sacrifice?  Really a sacrifice?  Is 1/10th of a percent or 4% sacrificial?  Is it your best lamb, or your leftover, or what you dare?  Is it given with grateful joy?  And remember, sacrificial is different for each person.  What does it mean to sacrifice for you?

Jean and I left 10% behind several years ago, and seek to have our regular giving level increase from year to year.  I hope to be at 20% by the time I’m 60, and I am planning to make sure every dime goes to the Lord’s work when we die–maybe a little to our kids–but once they are set, they don’t need it.  But 10% is a good starting target for level one regular giving.

Giving is definitely by grace, and always done with joy.  And giving is between you and God–but friends, Biblically, God expects you to know what proportion you give, so ask the Lord Jesus what He would have you do?  When Jesus has your heart, you’ll give generously from the heart.

Level 1 God calls every Christian to regular, faithful, never-fail, consistent giving to the Church.

Friends, that means with each paycheck, God gets the first part.  Each payday at the Muellers’, the first check we write is to the Lord, to give Him the honor He’s due.  God doesn’t want my money, He wants my heart.  But if my heart is tender toward Him, He will be first with my money, every pay period, with every raise, in my financial planning, even in my will, God is first.  Regular giving should be consistent and faithful.  But there are times when there will be some . . .

Level 2  Freewill, special giving  This is always over-and-above regular level one giving.  In addition to level one giving, never instead of, at times the Holy Spirit will direct you to give at special times and in special ways.

Even Israel had freewill offerings God called for when He commanded Moses to build the Tabernacle.        In Exodus 25:1-2 God says, “Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering.  You are to receive the offering for me from each man whose heart prompts him to give.”  This was always over-and-above their regular giving.  They never took their regular offering and gave it to a short term teamer or another project, because their festivals would not have continued, the priests would have suffered, and the poor would have starved.  Special giving is always in addition to, beyond, and over regular giving.  These are the times when God moves you to give to a needy person or to a special project.

In some Russian gatherings, they actually have jewelry offerings, where gold and diamonds are collected, and then sold to pay for a special project.  For some of us, it could be a car, a house, an account, gold, jewelry, a budget item, an inheritance, a raise, savings, if given from a right heart.  This is like our monthly care fund for those in need in our midst.  So,

Level 1 regular giving for every Christian

Level 2 special giving at times, over-and-above, and . . .

Level 3  Abandoned giving.  This is the Macedonians, who Paul said in 2 Corinthians  8:2, “gave from their deep poverty,” and verse 3, “beyond their ability they gave of their own accord.”  This giving is Spirit-led, only for the mature abandonment of common sense, out of abundant joy, giving beyond your means to see how God will provide for your needs in a great way.

Occasionally there are some who are so in touch with God’s heart, they know they can give beyond their ability because of their confident faith God will provide for them in a direct way. They give what they can’t afford to give, but trust God to provide.

Once, when Jean and I were very, very poor, we had some friends who needed $70, and all we had was $70.  My wife encouraged me to give it to them, so we sent it to them anonymously.  We had no cash left, though we had our cars and clothes.  It was the only time I ever came close to abandoned giving.  The miracle of it was, within a week God gave us $100 in the mail.

Once, we were in a situation where we were destitute, and God provided a man I have not met to this day, who helped pay our bills at $500 a month for a year–God did that.  Abandoned giving is where God shows Himself in very outward amazing ways, but it must be directed by Him.

This is an important topic for us to hear as a church family.  As a church, we have always received more than we budget.  All our extra income is saved for our future–$850,000.  We are the only church I know with 600 people, only two full-time pastors, and our elders are really careful stewards with His money.  We are facing the need for additional staffing this year.  Our numbers have increased, but our giving has gone down slightly.

We are also looking at a permanent, long-term solution for our church family–land or a building–and we are committed to planting churches, sending missionaries, no matter what our finances are.  How will you respond–1%, 4%, 10%?  What kind of lamb will you offer?

Consider three questions as I close–the challenge for 2010 . . .

#1  What does your giving indicate about your heart?

In Luke 12:34, Jesus tells us a truth, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

To know how committed you are to Christ, just look at your giving.  Jesus says the Christian who doesn’t give or casually gives has a heart problem.  Maybe you need a new heart that only comes from Christ, or you may need to confess the sin of greed, selfishness, indifference or materialism.

#2  Is your giving a sacrificial joy?

I married someone with the gift of giving, and there have been times I thought my wife was crazy the way she gives things away.  I am the budgeter, planner, making sure all our money is being used in a way that honors God.  But I have to tell you now, for 35 years I have given faithfully, sacrificially to solid local churches, given over-and-above to build buildings, given to purchase land, even during times when all we could afford was mac and cheese, and our meat was hot dogs.  In all that time, even when we were destitute (and we were), as we continued to give, God has met our needs and exceeded our needs with gifts, surprises, support, encouragement in so many ways.  Learn to be a sacrificial giver, and you will know joy.

#3  Is your giving done with the cross in mind?

Christ died for you–Christ became poor so you could be rich.  If that is true, what kind of giver should you be?

About Chris Mueller

Chris is the teaching pastor at Faith Bible Church - Murrieta.