Prosperity, Eternity (15): Learning to give to God acceptably
by Eferovo Igho
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For the Christian giving is a divine duty. It is an endeavor we are to engage in, and one that reminds us of God Himself. Giving reminds us of God Who first gave us of His Life when He breathed upon man at creation and man became a living soul; and thereafter gave man everything on earth.
In Genesis 1:26-30 we read: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to everything that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.”
Giving reminds us of this Creator Who gave us His Life, and the whole wide world. We give because He gave. When we give we must learn to give like God.
Giving also reminds us of God Who gave His Only Begotten Son. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. 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. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved” – John 3:14-17. We give because He gave. And when we give we must learn to give like God.
Giving is an obligation, a very serious command! And in carrying it out God has a lot of expectations; the way we must go about it, and our previous work details the fundamentals. Here we hope to further this subject matter by attempting to state what our manner must be as we give to God, His work or His children. It is learning to give like God; and so this must necessarily be a learning process that demands us daily approximating or becoming more like God in the matter of giving. Others who have gone before us and whose lives and giving were acceptable to God must also represent lessons on how to give to God acceptably; and we have considered saints like Abraham, Lot, Joseph, Job, Moses, David and Barnabas as representatives of the lot in some of the works in this series.
So, how do we give to God? What kind of giving is acceptable to God? It is necessary we consider this all important question if our giving must be rewarded now and in all eternity by the God who owns all of us and all that are ours.
Giving Holily or in Holiness
“And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him” – Genesis 4:3-7.
Abel was qualified to give his offering, because the reason why God did not accept Cain’s offering was stated: “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.” As early as the beginning of humanity God didn’t accept offering because of sin. So holiness or freedom from sin has always and will always remain God’s yardstick for accepting our giving or offerings. And this must always be emphasized in our congregations else we will be deceiving the people and ourselves.
Abel gave with a pure and acceptable heart. Let us be holy givers.
Giving Foresightedly with God’s Purpose in Mind
Abel did not only give in holiness but foresightedly and according to God’s purpose. Abel offered blood. He gave what was dear to God’s heart, and what has bearing to His plan of salvation of the world. His spirituality and deep insight into God’s will and purpose is not in doubt. He captured as early as the beginning of human history God’s ideal expectation of offering: Giving according to His purpose. And Abel gave according to His chief purpose.
Abel’s offering was spurred by or has root, as it were, in the Cross of Christ which he saw from afar. Our giving must be spurred by or propelled or have its root in Christ’s love; that love indescribable which the story of His Cross is! Abel’s offering connected with the Gospel. It connected with the Kingdom of God. And ours should. And there are a thousand and one ways our giving can connect with the Gospel, and the Kingdom of God.
Let us be visionary and purposeful givers: Giving with roots in the Cross; giving that connects with the Gospel.
Abraham represents example among men any day:
In Genesis 22:1-18 we read: “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you, And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen. And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, By Myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed My voice.”
Many there are who claim Abraham’s blessings are theirs but know nothing about Abraham’s giving. And there are many supposed children of Abraham who have been blessed who know nothing of what Abraham understands about the purpose of God’s provisions in the hands of man and Abraham’s lifestyle of giving.
Giving that Costs
We already noted David as an example of this kind of giving in a previous part of this series. We here refer to the relevant Scripture: “And Gad came that day to David, and said unto him, Go up, rear an altar unto the Lord in the threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite. And David, according to the saying of Gad, went up as the Lord commanded. And Araunah looked, and saw the king and his servants coming on toward him: and Araunah went out, and bowed himself before the king on his face upon the ground. And Araunah said, Wherefore is my lord the king come to his servant? And David said, To buy the threshingfloor of thee, to build an altar unto the Lord, that the plague may be stayed from the people. And Araunah said unto David, Let my lord the king take and offer up what seemeth good unto him: behold, here be oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing instruments and other instruments of the oxen for wood. All these things did Araunah, as a king, give unto the king. And Araunah said unto the king, The Lord thy God accept thee. And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. And David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the Lord was intreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel” – 2 Samuel 24:18-25.
Do you notice the healthy rivalry in giving to God and the cause of God here? Do you notice the rivalry in giving to God so that the people of God can live, and not perish?
Giving the 2 Corinthians 9: 6-and-7-Way
“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 Cor. 9: 6-7.
We see here two ways to give and two ways not to give: We should give willingly from the heart and cheerfully; and we should not give grudgingly or give of compulsion. And yet the counsel is to give bountifully and not sparingly. He that sows bountifully shall reap bountifully and he that sows sparingly shall reap sparingly. Jesus teaches same in Luke 6:38: “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.”
Ecclesiastics 11:1; Proverbs 11:24-25; Proverbs 19:17; Proverbs 22:9; and Psalm 18:25; Psalm 41:1-2 visits the same truth.
Let’s learn to give with genuine and sincere hearts. Failure in this was the beginning of the undoing of Ananias and Sapphira:
“But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things” – Acts 5:1-11.
That God may not react the way He reacted then because of relative want of holiness in the general Church today does not in any way suggests He accepts gifts and offerings given in self-deceit today. Ministers may accept them to expand their congregational empires but such gifts are not really needed by God to expand His Holy Kingdom.
Giving according to Ability or the Blessings of God
“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. Some interpret this Scripture as if it has no ‘B’ part to it. They are wont to say we give according to what we are able but hardly telling us what that really means. If you or the flesh is left to determine your ability it will hardly have any ability to give according to what this verse requires even though the barns may be filled to overflowing and the presses to bursting.
Actually the meaning of that verse is in the second section of it. The second section actually explains what the first section means. It is saying that every man shall give according to the blessing of the Lord our God which He has given us. So, how has God blessed us individually? Again, if we are left to answer this the flesh could rear up again. If God Himself is to weigh the blessing He has given us and compare it with what we are giving we would be most shameful. If we allow His Spirit to help us here we would see how easily we can be deceived by the flesh. Each and every one of us can give more than we are giving presently if we allow the Spirit to take full charge.
There are classes of givers. Many give below their ability because of the flesh etc. They falsely comfort themselves saying that is according to their ability. Really? How these people shares border with the evil of Ananias and Sapphira. Some give according to their ability; and that is ability properly defined by their spirit without any form of condemnation; and seen and accepted by God as such. The God who truly knows our ability is ever pleased with this. Yet, some others even go beyond this Divine approval. They give more than they are able:
“Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God” – 2 Corinthians 8:1-5. When men genuinely first give themselves to God, nothing is too much to be given to God, Christ’s true brethren, and the Gospel or the Great Commission.
Giving in Humility
This is giving to God, His work and the brethren as if you’re returning a thing to its owner. After all, this is the actual position. There is nothing you have that is not given. And if given, it must be for a purpose which the owner determines. We are just caretakers. So if He asks you to give it to Brother So-and-so, it only means that you were just a caretaker. And in giving it therefore to Brother So-and-so, you return it as if to the owner (not just to God the original owner but the very Brother So-and-so).
1 Chronicles 29:8-16: “And they with whom precious stones were found gave them to the treasure of the house of the Lord, by the hand of Jehiel the Gershonite. Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the Lord: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy. Wherefore David blessed the Lord before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed be thou, Lord God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is Thine; Thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and Thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of Thee, and Thou reignest over all; and in Thine hand is power and might; and in Thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. Now therefore, our God, we thank Thee, and praise Thy glorious Name. But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of Thee, and of Thine own have we given Thee. For we are strangers before Thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers: our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding. O Lord our God, all this store that we have prepared to build Thee an house for Thine holy Name cometh of Thine hand, and is all Thine own.”
In Philippians 2:5-11 we read of the incomparable humility of our Lord and Savior that gave Himself and salvation to us. Let’s see this example par excellent: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
And the command is let this mind which was in Christ Jesus also be in us. This is how we must endeavor to live. We should live humbly and give humbly. There is too much pomposity and self-importance in the giving of many in our day. Our giving to God and God’s work knows too much publicity and hype today. They that do this already have their reward. Let God only be honored in our giving to Him and His work. And of giving to individuals the next point tells how!
Giving in Secret
Matthew 6:1-4: 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.”
This again abhors pomposity, show and publicity characterizing many of our alms giving today. ‘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.’
Giving to the Needy
Proverbs 22:16: “He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.” This is the Word of God. It tells here of a class of people we should not give to: The rich. But how this contrasts with what most of us do! Giving to the rich may attract favor from them but not from God; and at the end both your gift and the favor it attracts will send you back to want.
There are many unfertile grounds people sow in that we must not sow in. One of them is sowing into the rich, especially to gain reward. He that gives to the rich shall surely come to want. Without the qualifying word ‘surely’ in that sentence it is already frightening coming from the Word of God. Yet, it came with ‘surely’. It may take time but it will come surely.
But this must not be confused with giving to fertile ministries dedicated to God, for to actually give to ministries truly dedicated to God is to give to God. But we may be aware of ministers who consume these things on their own lust and family lust; God would sort that out with them someday. May God help us all!
Do you want to see God’s visitation and reward here, and in eternity? Give to the
needy, and poor brethren within and then the needy and poor without.
Igho writes from Warri
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