Someone once told his pastor, “Give, give, give! That’s all I ever hear from you!” The preacher smiled and said, “Thank you for the best three-word description of the Christian life ever!”
Scripture does not simply command us to give. It does that, of course, but over and over God’s Word gives us great reasons for being generous to everyone around us, contributing to the needy and poor, and generously supporting the work of the Lord.
I imagine there are 500 reasons for giving. But here are ten of the best!
One. When we give, the Lord takes it personally. We are handing it to Him!
“He who gives to the poor lends to the Lord” (Proverbs 19:17).
“Inasmuch as you did it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you did it unto me” (Matthew 25:40).
“When you give a reception (party, banquet, whatever), invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed since they are not able to repay you; and you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14:14).
And my all-time favorite: “God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love that you have shown to His Name in having ministered to the saints, and in still ministering” (Hebrews 6:10).
Two. We give because we have received so freely.
If you’ve received nothing, you are exempt from giving!
“What do you have that you have not received?” (I Corinthians 4:7) Answer: Nothing at all. We have been the recipients of ten thousand blessings from the Father. “Daily, He loadeth us with benefits!” (Psalm 68:19).
Our Lord said, “Freely you have received; freely give” (Matthew 10:8). When the Lord stops giving to you, then you may quit being generous with others. But not until then.
The pond outside our back deck receives water from the heavens in the form of rain and runoff. On sunny mornings, you can see the fine mist rising off the surface of the pond, as it gives back to the skies the same water that it received a day or two earlier. Imagine the pond complaining, “Oh no! I can’t give this small amount! I need it.” It is in giving that the pond receives.
Three. We give because the Lord makes it a condition for His giving us further blessings.
“Test me on this,” the Lord says, “and see if I will not open for you the windows of Heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows!” (Malachi 3:10)
“Give and it shall be given unto you…” (Luke 6:38).
Think of a pipeline between you and Heaven. While greed and covetousness clog it up, generosity keeps it open and the blessings flowing.
Four. We give to increase our love for the things of God.
“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:21). That little insight is profound. Now, personally, I would have thought it was the other way around: Wherever your heart is, you will put your treasure. But, our Lord said wherever you put your treasure, your heart will follows. That’s incentive aplenty for pastors to keep urging their people to be givers (in all of life, not just the offering plate!).
When your kid went away to college, all of a sudden you found yourself interested in the news from that town and that campus. Your treasure is there and so your heart followed.
Five. We give to increase our reward in Heaven.
“Whoever in the name of a disciples gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water, truly I say to you he shall not lose his reward” (Matthew 10:42). What could be a smaller gift than a cup of water? So, when I give to support a worker in the kingdom–even if it’s only a cup of water!– I share in the reward God will give him for his work.
“Lay up treasures in Heaven where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves cannot break through and steal” (Matthew 6:20).
We can’t take it with us, the old saying goes, but we can send it on ahead. And so we can.
Six. We give because of what Jesus said.
Our Lord commended the widow who gave–even when she needed what she had, when others were giving far greater amounts (and thus her gift was practically meaningless), and when the temple was under the control of a den of thieves!
Jesus approved her giving. He honored her for bringing her small gift.
Friend, you and I have no excuse for not giving! (I can hear it now: “I’m sorry, Lord! I need this money to pay off my new car!” New boat. Vacation.)
Mark 12:41-44 contains the definitive story on this. I love the story and enjoy preaching it. Every pastor has known of people who quit giving because they didn’t agree with the preacher, didn’t like a decision made by the church, or could not support the deacons. But our Lord commends the widow for bringing her offering even when the temple was under the control of a bunch of crooks!
Seven. We give to support the saints in their work of the Lord.
“…that there might be bread (provisions) in my house” (Malachi 3:10).
“…they begged us with much entreaty for the favor of participation in the support of the saints….” (2 Corinthians 8:4). “…your abundance being a supply for their want…as it is written, ‘He who gathered much did not have too much and he who gathered little had no lack'” (8:14-15).
Paul said to the church at Philippi, “After I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone. For even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs” (Philippians 4:15-16).
Eight. We give because money is an earthly possession with a temporary value. Eventually, we will lose it. (The only thing any of us will ever keep is what we give!)
“Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of people ought you to be in all holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning…. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found in Him in peace, spotless and blameless…” ( 2 Peter 3:11-12)
Nine. We give as a rebuke to our self-centeredness.
“He who is generous shall be blessed” (Proverbs 22:9).
I’ve been reading a book by a former director of the FBI. He talks about the time Martha Stewart broke the law on insider trading in order to save $50,000 on a stock sale. This woman, whose empire was worth perhaps half a billion dollars, risked jail time in order to save what was for her pocket change. (And she went to jail!) Why, we ask, did she do that? Answer: Greed. The money we have is never enough.
How much money is enough? they asked a tycoon. He answered, “Just a little more.”
Only by consistently, constantly setting a pattern of giving can we break the stranglehold of greed.
Ten. Giving is fun.
“The Lord loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Once you get past the initial barrier to becoming a consistent giver, you find yourself enjoying writing that check to a ministry, buying a suit for a preacher in private (without him ever knowing the source), and leaving a generous tip for the server. Soon, you surprise yourself in the realization that giving money is far more fun than getting it. The next step up is to find the joy in giving to people who do not deserve or appreciate your gifts. Our Lord said, “If you give to those whom you expect to pay you back, what credit is that to you? Lost people do that! But love your enemies, and do good and lend to them, expecting nothing in return.”
And when that happens, Jesus said, you will be like the Heavenly Father. “For He Himself is kind to evil and ungrateful men!” (Luke 6:35).
Be a giver, friend. Not just on Sunday when the offering plate is passed–but yes, there too!–but every day, in every relationship. Look for ways to bless people.
Do not keep count of what you have given. Just spread the joy. The Father will keep better records than you anyway!