I was listening to a recent sermon and it really made me think about a comment I received from a local business owner regarding not wanting to financially partner with FCA NE WI. His response as to why he couldn’t partner with FCA now seemed to make sense. He said that the business already donates to places like the local shelter, the food pantry, and other local organizations that help the needy. All great causes and in need of donations; no question. However, the sermon was talking about unperishable giving. Giving to causes that further the kingdom of God verses only giving to places who help the needy.
The above non-profit organizations are all good social services and are fine places to give money, time, and talents to. The Bible even speaks of Christians giving to those in need. Proverbs 14:31, “Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.”
Matthew 25:44-45, “Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ These are just two of many different Scriptures that speak to giving to those in need. Clearly, as we yearn to be an example of Christ to the world we live in, it is biblically correct to give.
Where the sermon got me and the answer that the business owner provided about where they give their resources, it dawned on me that none of what was mentioned had any eternal value. Now before that comment gets misconstrued, lets share more on what is meant by it. Matthew 6:19 tells us, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.”
So how does this verse relate to the topic at hand? Giving to the poor and needy? If we are doing just that, how is that a bad thing or wrong? It isn’t. However, the following two verses add some more detail on my question…What about unperishable giving? Matthew 6:20-21, “but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” The last verse is the issue.
Why are we giving to who we give to? Is it because God has placed it on our heart to give to that particular organization for a specific reason? Or do we give out of obligation? 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Pastor Rick Warren has these comments on giving:
“So how do you decide? Well, you can give by reason or by revelation.
- Giving by reason just means that you give based on what you can afford. But I'll tell you, God doesn't bless that kind of giving.
- Giving by revelation, on the other hand, means taking a step of faith. It's asking, "God, I want to depend on you, not myself. What do you want me to give? What will stretch my faith and make me trust you more?"
It's giving outside your comfort level. This is the kind of giving that pleases God.”
He goes on further to say, “If you ever feel pressured to give by anybody - in church, at your house, someone on television, or anywhere else - don't do it. In fact, you can use me as an excuse and say, "Pastor Rick told me not to give because the Bible says never give under pressure or out of guilt."
The question God put on my heart is, why do we give to those we give to? Does it make us feel better? Is it out of a sense of obligation or guilt? Is it because we know we should do something? Or is it because it is something that God has put on our heart? Are we simply writing a check so that we can cross it off our list? Then the next question is, does this support provide eternal value and/or is it biblically correct? In addition to giving, maybe serving should be included. For example, giving to the food pantry is terrific, but what about giving AND serving and showing the love of Christ to the people in attendance. Sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ so that they too can experience eternal life.
As Christians, I believe we need to wrestle with this question:
If Christians are to be focused on kingdom living and kingdom building, why wouldn’t we look more closely at organizations that are all about the kingdom and dedicate more resources to them?
Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” When we seek God’s wisdom and listen to the Holy Spirit’s prompting, then we will be in God’s will and not our own. Maybe that will change how we do things in our life and with our giving.
Giving to win favor with man vs Giving to win Souls for Christ?
Giving to make us feel good? Giving to advance the kingdom of God?
Giving money is a good thing, but are we giving for the right reasons? Are we also giving more of ourselves than just money? Sending a check is easy. Getting your hands dirty is whole different story.
These are questions we need to wrestle with, pray about, and do as the Holy spirit prompts.
Posted on Sat, January 27, 2018
by Jeffrey Middlestead