The idea of tithing as the standard for acceptable giving has so permeated the church that very few (including pastors and elders) even question its validity or application to those of us who are living on this side of the cross. Giving legalistically according to a formula too often produces a reluctant giver who is giving out of compulsion. Giving generously by faith produces a cheerful giver who is giving out of overflowing joy.
Almost everyone has heard this statement, but few people actually know who originally said it and where it can be found. It might come as a surprise to you to learn that this statement was made by Jesus. But it is found in a very unusual place. This statement is found in the book of Acts. Paul includes this statement of Jesus in his farewell to the elders at the church of Ephesus after his three year ministry with them.
The house I am suggesting that we need to be keeping is not the one made of wood and bricks that contains our stuff, but the one made of flesh and blood that houses us and the Holy Spirit. Paul tells us in I Corinthians 3:16 (ESV), Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
When you really love… money is no object, giving is a delight, and no sacrifice is too great.
We can be generous in how we give without being generous in how we live. Conversely, a person who lives generously always gives generously. In other words, we may be willing to be extremely generous in giving what we want to give when and where we want to give it. But with what we don’t want to give, we can find ourselves being selfish and tight-fisted.
As you seek to personally embrace and consistently apply the concept of biblical stewardship in your own life, you might be surprised to hear that the term “generous giving” should create some uneasiness in you. Learn why!
One of the most compelling disincentives to people’s giving is a nagging sense of loss from what they give away. Many feel that if they give, they will become “poorer” in the same proportion as the recipient of their gift becomes “richer.” In other words, “Someone else’s gain is at my expense.”
One of the most common fears of giving is this, “If I get really radical in my giving, what I currently have in my barns and vats could be greatly diminished. Consequently, I may find them being only half-full or worse yet, entirely empty because I gave too much away.”
This article does not refer to the needy who have a material shortfall; it refers to the needy who have a material surplus. Those who have a shortfall need to receive, but equally critical, those who have a surplus need to give. Both are genuinely needy, but in different ways.
When abundant provisions appear, they can create a barrier that limits our ability to trust God more fully. I have seen this in my own life and the lives of many others. The more we possess, the more likely we are to trust Him less. In other words, the more He provides, the less we trust Him to provide. Odd phenomenon, isn’t it?