Investing in God’s Kingdom by Giving
“Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the best part of everything your land produces.” (Proverbs 3:9 NLT) To honor God is to show our regard, esteem, value, respect, and prizing of him. When we give to the Lord, we demonstrate to him, to others, and to ourselves that he is supreme in our lives. When we give, we attest that he is our most valued treasure. Giving shows that our hearts are set on him and not on our money or belongings. Giving honors God as supreme. Giving to him is an act of worship.
But there is both a non-giving and a giving that dishonors God. Not giving simply fails to honor God. Not giving demonstrates that our wealth and possessions and not God are truly what we treasure most. Not giving to God withholds honor from him and hoards that honor for us. By not giving, we elevate our wealth and possessions above him. So, not giving dishonors God.
“The world is not impressed when Christians get rich and say thanks to God. They are impressed when God is so satisfying that we give our riches away for Christ’s sake and call it gain.” – John Piper
As we said, there is also a giving that dishonors God. Giving that dishonors God is a giving out of duty or obligation. According to 2 Corinthians 9:7 NLT, we are not to “give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves the person who gives cheerfully.”
Consider a man who takes his wife out for their anniversary. During the evening it becomes clear to her that this date is not a result of his love and desire to honor her, but because of some rigid sense of duty he has toward her. Once she discovers the motives behind his actions, she would probably feel more hurt and betrayal than if he had not taken her out at all. Regardless of the cost of the evening, she would feel dishonored by her husband. Why should we think our relationship with God is any different?
“God loves it when the giver delights in the giving.” (2 Corinthians 9:7 MSG)
Giving to God must be a voluntary choice to honor (worship) him. Therefore, if we give merely out of duty, then God is not honored because our motives are faulty. Our motives betray that we are indeed self-centered and preoccupied with meeting our so-called obligation, instead of being centered on him and desiring his honor. Also, since our duty-based giving does not honor God, then whatever cost we spent meeting our obligation is irrelevant in terms of its worth as a gift. As one old sage put it, “If your parakeet is dead, buying it a more expensive cage will not help.”
Once we realize that genuine giving honors and pleases God, our natural tendency is to ask, “How much should I give?” Unfortunately, this question quickly degenerates into legalistic, duty-based thinking. We’ve already seen that our motives for giving matter as much to God as the act of giving itself.
Remember the two rich men in Luke 18 and 19? The rich ruler in Luke 18:18-23 was looking for another commandment that he could keep to fulfill an obligation to God. When Jesus told him to sell all he had and give the proceeds to the poor, Jesus’ request was not primarily about giving, but about whom or what this man served and loved. So, when Jesus asked him to choose between God and his money, he chose what he truly loved and lived for – his money. The price was too high and he went away very sad.
In contrast to the rich ruler, we find Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10. Here is another rich man, but when he meets Jesus, there is no contest this time between God and money. Zacchaeus chooses God! He honors Jesus (God) before all by voluntarily giving half his wealth to the poor and making four-fold restitution to those he had cheated! Jesus gets excited about Zacchaeus’ response because it clearly demonstrated a changed life in submission to God. Zacchaeus honored God in his giving and in the amount he gave.
So, again, back to the question, “How much should I give?” Our response: give an amount that is God-honoring. Give an amount or percentage that you know brings honor to God and demonstrates that he and not money is supreme and treasured in your life! As Paul told the Corinthians, “If you are really eager to give, it isn’t important how much you are able to give. God wants you to give what you have, not what you don’t have.” (2 Corinthians 8:12 NLT)
Jesus called his disciples over and said, “The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together. All the others gave what they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford–she gave her all.” (Mark 12:43-44 MSG)
© Rob Fischer 2005