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The Biblical Principles of Giving
Why it is more blessed
to give than to receive
By Ken Raggio
The law of sowing and reaping
is a divine and universal law.
You can reasonably expect to see your returns in life coming back to you in direct proportion to the extent of your giving. Any farmer can confirm that for you. If you don't plant a crop, you certainly won't get one. If you plant a small crop, you will likely get a small crop; or a large planting produces a large harvest.
It doesn't take rocket science to see that if you sow sparingly, you will reap sparingly, but if you sow bountifully, you will also reap bountifully.
That is why, as we study the Bible, we will see, again and again, how God teaches us to invest extensively in life.
As we invest freely, liberally, generously and wisely, God assures us that we will be blessed. After all, He is the creator of this universal law. He is the one who created the seed in the earth that bore fruit which contained its seed in itself.
God practiced His own law from the first day of creation: "Give, and it shall be given." You and I simply must learn this lesson. That is why I am presenting this material here. We need to know this principle thoroughly.
Here are the solid biblical reasons why we should give. I will also show you the prudent and proper ways to give. And we will also look at the wonderful, wonderful rewards of giving.
Let's start with God's own example
Look at God’s example. Giving is one of God’s most common behaviors. GOD IS A GIVER! In the beginning, God GAVE light, the earth, the firmaments, the waters and the seas, and every living creature.
Everything good gift proceeds from God. Think of the term "Father" as "progenitor - life giver." God created, instigated, initiated, GAVE everything we know. God’s giving precipitated our very existence. HE gave us life in our mother’s womb.
You only need to experience a brief period of heart arrhythmia to appreciate the fact that every single heartbeat is a precious gift from God.
Every breath we draw into our lungs; the vital autonomic functions of our bodies are each miraculous gifts from God. If you can see, hear, taste, touch or smell you are the recipient of priceless gifts.
To have the love of family and friends, a roof over our heads, and a place to sleep comfortably at night, are all wonderful benefits from the Great Benefactor, our Lord.
God gives freely and abundantly, nourishing us like rains nourish seed sown in the ground.
Isaiah taught us that God gives us the rain and snow to water the earth so the earth will give seed to the sower, then bread to the eater.
Likewise, God sends - gives - His Word to men so we may prosper in His will. His Word informs us, trains us, teaches us the way of life so our lives will be full of blessing.
God’s character is the model for us all.
We should be holy because God is holy. Jesus taught us to forgive because God forgave us. Similarly, all true believers should be givers, because God has been the model giver.
When the preacher wrote, “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days,” (Ecclesiastes 11:1), he was suggesting that giving must often be done without the ability to foresee its results. When we give, we do not really know what the result will be, or when the result will come. We only know it WILL come - after many days.
The “bread” we cast on the water speaks of our sustenance, the stuff of our survival. The “waters” speaks of the people to whom we give. (In Revelation 17:15, the waters John saw represented people and multitudes.)
Jesus was the “bread sent down from heaven.” God was the first to cast his own bread upon the waters. In giving his only begotten Son, he brought MANY sons into glory, through Jesus Christ. God obviously believed that it would return unto Him after many days.
When we give, we cast our bread upon the waters.
We make an open-ended investment in others. By giving from all God has given to us, we are planting eternal seeds that will some day yield a wonderful harvest of benefits. That new harvest will again multiply the investment we made.
The eternal maxim came from Jesus Christ in Matthew 10:8b: “Freely ye have received, freely give.”
Jesus’ modus operandi was:
1. Recognize what the Father had given
2. Give exactly that to others.
In John 6:37-40, Jesus revealed one of the most significant rules of his ministry.
“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.”
Jesus believed his primary objective was to identify WHAT THE FATHER GIVETH.
His second objective was to GIVE to and support what the Father had GIVEN him so that it would not be lost.
This reveals something extremely important.
We are not responsible for just anything and everything, but for what God specifically gives us.
IN TURN, we are to support what the Father gives us by GIVING to that purpose or person.
John 17 contains a lengthy prayer Jesus prayed. In it, Jesus repeatedly acknowledged what the Father had given him.
Jesus listed the things the Father gave him.
V.2, Power to “give eternal life”
V.4, “the work that thou gavest me to do.”
V.6, “the men that thou gavest me out of the world.”
V.8, “the words which thou gavest me.”
V.9, “them which thou hast given me.”
V.11, “those whom thou hast given me.”
V.12, “those that thou gavest me.”
V.22, “the glory which thou gavest me.”
More importantly, Jesus systematically handed down everything the Father had given him.
V.4, “I have glorified thee on earth: I have finished the work that thou gavest me to do.”
V.6, “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world.”
V.8, “I have given unto them the words that thou gavest me.”
V.9 “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.”
V.14, “I have given them thy word.”
V.18, “As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.” Jesus even passed down his calling and anointing to His disciples.
V.19, “I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” Jesus practiced sanctification that they might learn sanctification.
V.22, “And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them.”
V.26, “I have declared unto them thy name.”
V.24. Jesus even made a future bequest by praying “that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me.”
He gave a portion of His heavenly residence and glory in the presence of God.
Jesus was a channel of God’s gifts.
Everything he received of the Father, he intentionally gave to those who were given to him. The flow never stopped in Jesus. As soon as revelation or blessing or power came to him, he passed it on to his followers.
We should conscientiously take inventory of what God has given us, and exercise good stewardship by passing it on to all those who are within our circle of influence.
We need to adopt Jesus’ modus operandi.
1. Recognize WHAT God has given.
2. Recognize WHO God has given.
3. Give WHAT we have received to WHO we have received.
Jesus passed the blessings outwardly in concentric circles. The blessings began with his twelve, then the seventy, then the multitudes.
The opposite of giving is greed.
If we are selfish or greedy, we miss entirely the purpose for which we were born. God never gave to us so we could greedily hoard or withhold from giving. Greed prevents others from getting their intended blessings.
Our very survival depends upon the gifts we have freely received - life, health, strength, talents, abilities, wealth, etc.
We are debtors, because we have already received more than we could ever repay.
The Apostle Paul felt his debt to God. He spoke of the dispensation of the gospel committed unto him: “Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16).
Paul also expressed his debt to the Romans. He said,
“For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established,” (Romans 1:11).
He admitted that he was a debtor to the Greeks, the Barbarians, the wise, and the unwise, and especially to the Romans.
We should thank God for Paul’s impartation toward those ancient people, because his gifts to them have now descended two thousand years to bless us today.
Every gift we set in motion develops a life of its own, and continues to bear fruit long after we have forgotten about it. Giving sets miracles into motion.
When the widow gave the prophet of the Lord her last bit of oil and meal, God miraculously re-supplied her with oil and meal.
When we faithfully, in good stewardship, hand down the blessings of God that we have received to others, we trigger a miraculous re-supply directly from the hands of God.
Give, expecting good to come of it.
“…for thou shalt find it after many days,” (v.1)
The “message in a bottle” illustrates giving with expectancy. Over the centuries, countless people have dropped a bottle into the ocean with a message sent to an unknown recipient. Often, the message in the bottle contains a name and an address to contact when it is finally found. It is always interesting to hear from a stranger who found the bottle and then learn how far and how long the bottle has traveled.
Unfortunately, there is no assurance that anyone will ever find the bottle, but the prospect of success makes the endeavor interesting and meaningful.
When we give, we never know how far or how long that gift may work, or how many lives it may benefit. On Judgment Day, however, when all secrets are revealed, it will be interesting to see how many rewards we receive because of our giving.
“Do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great,” (Luke 6:35).
We must recognize the difference in giving, EXPECTING a reward, and giving TO GET a reward.
Romans 12 contains a list of the so-called “motive gifts”, or spiritual gifts that motivate true Christians. The list in verses 6-8 include:
2. Serving (ministry)
6. Ruling (administration)
7. Showing Mercy
We might safely conclude that giving is one of the substantial pillars and ministries in the Church.
Specifically to the giver, Paul admonished, “he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity;” (Romans 12:8).
God promised to reward us if we give with good intention. However, we should not give for the express purpose of getting the reward or even recognition for the act.
“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men.
Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly."
We should give because it is right to give. Others need our gifts. We are the blessed recipients of countless gifts.
Giving stimulates the cycles of life.
Our giving benefits those we give to. Out of their blessings, they can begin to give. The cycle never ends.
“Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth,” (Ephesians 4:28).
The rich should give.
“Charge them that are rich in this world… That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute,”. (1 Timothy 6:17,18).
We have a responsibility to help those less fortunate than ourselves.
“But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth,” (1 Timothy 6:17,18).
Our giving should not be stingy or sparse. A farmer who holds back on the seed will suffer in the harvest. A saint who rarely gives will never see a rich and bountiful harvest.
“But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver,” (2 Corinthians 9:6-8).
God promises to reward us for liberality.
“The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself,” (Proverbs 11:25).
Do not despair if your resources are few, and you have little to give. The poor widow who cast in her two mites attracted Jesus’ attention outside the great Temple.
“And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had,” (Luke 21:2-3).
God is not concerned about the earthly value of the things we give. He is concerned about the spiritual and eternal value. Someone who may never have a sum of money to give away can easily write a kind letter or note filled with words of concern and encouragement that are priceless gifts.
At the same time, words alone are unacceptable if we are able to do more.
“If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone,” (James 2:15-17).
When someone in need comes to us asking help, we are obliged to help if we can.
“Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away,” (Matthew 5:42).
Jesus noted the insensitive priest and the uncaring Levite who ignored a fallen man by a roadside.
“But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, “ (Luke 10:33).
Jesus commended the Samaritan’s benevolence, and told his followers to “go thou and do likewise.”
The Early Church faced many challenges for survival, but they ministered to one another.
“And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need,” (Acts 2:44,45).
“And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common,” (Acts 4:32).
They even gave support to sister Churches in other cities.
“Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea,” (Acts 11:29).
It is more blessed to give than to receive.
Paul admonished the elders at Ephesus,
“I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive,” (Acts 20:35).
It is a touching story of the Gentile Centurion who came to Jesus in behalf of his dear servant who was sick and dying. The bystanders testified to Jesus, “That he was worthy for whom he should do this: For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue.”
This wonderful man so loved the Jewish people that he built a synagogue for them at his own expense. Jesus marveled at the Centurion and his great faith, and of course healed his servant.
In fact, all the Churches, Tabernacles, and Temples that were ever built were built by the free-will offerings of giving people. Moses Tabernacle was constructed from the free-will offerings of the people. Moses told the people,
“Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee,” (Deuteronomy 16:17).
“And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the LORD's offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments,” (Exodus 35:21).
David purchased the land where Ornan had his threshingfloor for 600 shekels of gold out of his own pocket. Then he had the Tabernacle of David made for the Ark of the Covenant and set it on that land.
Later, David made a bequest of many millions of dollars worth of materials to build a Temple unto the Lord.
Solomon added to his father’s gifts to make the Temple even more splendorous. He also made priceless offerings to the Lord on the day of the dedication.
Great gifts were given from each of the twelve tribes.
“If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be,” (Ecclesiastes 6:3).
Solomon’s commentary on clouds raining and trees falling argues that things already done cannot be undone. If the clouds fill with moisture, it must rain. If the tree falls, there it will lie.
By the same rule, if you sow enough seeds, eventually, something has to grow. There is no reason to refrain from giving, or sowing seed. Giving sets in motion a certain parade of miracles. It is impossible not to have at least some kind of harvest if you persistently keep sowing.
Sowing and giving should not be prevented by blowing winds or dark clouds of adversity. We must have FAITH in the sowing process. We must believe that as we obey God’s eternal laws, something good, positive, and fruitful will finally come of it.
Understanding the Law of Sowing and Reaping
God created SEED that would give infinite seed.
“And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food,” (Genesis 2:8,9).
In the Garden of Eden, and all over the earth, God sowed seed. Then He caused a mist to rise up out of the earth and water the seed. The seed grew into countless varieties of plants, each of which has its seed in itself.
God’s giving is a never-ending chain-reaction of benevolence. Every gift God gives precipitates an additional fruit and ongoing seed.
Our eternal salvation is the greatest gift of God to mankind.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” (John 3:16).
God is a free giver.
“Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price,” (Isaiah 55:1).
John the Baptist believed that “a man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven, (John 3:27). We have nothing that was not given to us from God.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights,” (James 1:17).
God commands us to give.
From Moses’ time, harvesters were instructed to leave remnants in the fields for the poor “gleaners” to collect. In the book of Ruth, they were called “handfuls of purpose.”
John the Baptist preached giving.
“He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise,” (Luke 3:11).
Our abundance should be shared with those who have need. We owe our abundance to others.
Jesus told his followers in Luke 12:33 to
“Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.”
He told the rich young ruler, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven,” (Matthew 19:21).
Jesus preached to the multitudes for three days. He told his disciples, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat,” (Mark 8:2).
As soon as he recognized the need, he set out to meet the need. Jesus was a giver. He took the small portions of food they could find (what the Father giveth), blessed it, and gave it to the people. It never ran out. 5,000 men, plus women and children ate, and there were basketsful left over.
Jesus thereby illustrated proof of his own teaching.
“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again,” (Luke 6:38).
From earliest times, Abraham gave a tenth of all to Melchizedek.
Jacob swore that he would always give the Lord a tenth of all his increase.
David adamantly declared that he would never offer a sacrifice to the Lord that had cost him nothing.
The wise man taught us to
“Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine,” (Proverbs 3:9).
GIVING AS AN ACT OF FAITH
Things We Do Not Understand
“As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all,” (Ecclesiastes 11:5).
The Way of the Spirit
At best, the law of sowing and reaping is mysterious. We never know when and where the seed will prosper, or the Spirit will work.
“The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit,” (John 3:8).
Growth in the Womb of a Woman
Modern science has documented the growth of the human fetus in the womb. It has categorized each and every stage of development from conception to birth. We even understand the molecular and cellular processes from insemination to adulthood and even death.
We DO NOT know, however, exactly how life exists in the first place. We cannot yet recreate life in a test-tube. We cannot start from scratch and produce any sophisticated life form. Only the Mighty God can create life. Only God can fuel the processes of life.
Similarly, it is impossible to understand the miraculous dynamics of giving. Who could have predicted the widow’s unfailing cruse of oil? Who can understand how God miraculously sends a financial miracle the very day after you give a special offering in Church?
Things We Do By Faith
“In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.” (Ecclesiastes 11:6)
We must have complete faith and confidence in God’s processes. We cannot know which seed will prosper or which gift will produce a miracle.
THE BLESSING OF GIVING OUR LIVES
God guarantees that the giver will be amply rewarded.
“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts,” (Malachi 3:10-12).
It is not only our giving to the work of God that will be blessed.
“Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble. The LORD will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies. The LORD will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness,” (Psalm 41:1-3).
The Lord even considers our giving as a personal debt He will repay to us.
“He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again,” (Proverbs 19:17).
The very first Gentile to receive the Holy Ghost in the New Testament was an Italian man named Cornelius. One of the biggest reasons why God visited him with an angel, and miraculously sent Peter to minister to him was because Cornelius was a giver. He was “a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always,” (Acts 10:2).
The angel of the Lord fastened his eyes on Cornelius and said, “Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.” Can we afford to miss the lesson that Cornelius’ generosity touched the heart of God?
Jesus taught that eternal rewards (not salvation itself) will be based on our giving. He listed several examples of benevolence that He is looking for:
Without God, Life Is Vanity
“Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun: But if a man live many years, and rejoice in them all; yet let him remember the days of darkness; for they shall be many. All that cometh is vanity,” (Ecclesiastes 11:7,8).
The brevity of life accents the need to do good while the occasion serves. An old saying goes, “Only one life will soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.” In our giving, we are laying up treasure in heaven.
Remember the Judgment at Life’s End
God promised to reward those who give, but those who selfishly hoard for themselves get a stern warning.
Jesus put forth a parable about a rich man who said,
“I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.
And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
Live With Eternity In View
“Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment,” (Ecclesiastes 11:9)
It is tragic to miss these urgent lessons of life. Paul said,
“though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing,” (I Corinthians 13:1).
Our heart and our motives must be right in all that we say and do. Otherwise, we endanger our eternal souls.
From the original premise of this lesson, God is the model giver.
There will be times when we should simply pause and reflect upon the many benefits we have received from him.
Count your blessings. Name them one by one.
Be sure you are aware of exactly what the Father has given you.
After you have taken inventory, you will realize that by the grace of God, you are truly rich in many ways.
But don’t stop there. Consider how many ways and places you can hand down those blessings to others.
If God has given you a loving spouse, love, cherish, nurture and care for that spouse with all the goodness of God you have in your heart. The same is true about your children.
If you are a pastor, a teacher, a caregiver of any kind, acknowledge those people God has entrusted to you. Consider them to be WHAT THE FATHER GIVETH.
Many foolish men have set out to save the whole world but neglected to care for their wives and children who God had clearly given them. What a misguided effort! Give what you have to who you have. That is the key. Even if it is a struggle, the promise of God is yours.
“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him,” (Psalms 126:5-6).
Make a quick mental list of the people you know God has given to you to care for. Include immediate family, and those within your immediate circle of influence. Determine to focus on those first and foremostly in your giving.
“I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me.”
How many of our prayers are for things that we need not be concerned about, and how many of our prayers are for the people and things that we are most accountable for?
What are the most important things to give? Consider the things Jesus gave to those He cared for: Truth, revelation, eternal salvation. How can you give these things to those you have access to?
Can you give your anointing, your inspiration, your ministry to others? Should you begin with strangers, or those closest to you?
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