The apostle Paul quotes Jesus as saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).” Jesus is saying that when we give – whether it is time, energy, service, encouragement, resource, or whatever – there is an even greater blessing than when we are on the receiving end. That sounds unnatural, almost counter-cultural, doesn’t it? I mean, wouldn’t we be happier if we were always on the receiving end of things? Well, even modern day psychological research has recently proven that giving leads to longer and more lasting feelings of happiness and well-being than receiving does. How is it more blessed to give than to receive?1. GOD is blessed when we give, especially when we give generously
One thing we know for sure is that God is a generous God who gives so much to each of us, day after day. He gives us the very breath that we breathe and life itself. He provides for our daily basic needs – food, clothing and shelter. He gives us the power and ability to get wealth. He is faithful in his love, mercy, and compassion towards us. He gave us his very best – His Son. Not only is God a generous God in the very fabric of his nature; he also loves it when we are generous too. Generosity pleases him greatly. When we give we are just like him. He delights in us as his children when we take on his character qualities. Through generous giving we prove that God is first in our life and we honour him (see Deut.14:23. Prov.3:9). Paul tells us that God ‘loves’ a cheerful (or joyful) giver (2 Cor.9:7)! In contrast, selfishness, tightfistedness or stinginess displeases him because it is opposite to his nature.
God is also blessed when we give because our generous giving helps his work on earth to grow. God is honoured and his kingdom expands. The gospel is free but it costs money to spread the good news and to build the church. God’s work in the earth is great and it requires resources (people, time and finance). Our generous giving provides for the building of the church of Jesus Christ and the extension of God’s kingdom. If everyone gave generously, according to their own resources and income, there would be ‘more than enough’ for the work of each local church, including the various ministries of the church.2. OTHER PEOPLE are blessed when we give
We’ve all been on the receiving end of someone else’s generosity. How does it make you feel? Special and loved (example: birthday and Christmas presents)! When we give we have the opportunity to do the same for others. What a difference a gift can make. Others are blessed in powerful ways through our generous giving. God does some amazing things when his people embrace a spirit of generosity in every area of their life. The early church experienced a powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which resulted in tremendous impact on the local community, city and eventually the entire world. An important factor in what God did was the generosity of believers in contributing voluntarily, willingly and joyfully to what God was doing – and to the needs of others (see Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-37; 11:27-30; 24:17; Rom.15:25-28). Generosity is a sign of the Holy Spirit’s work in the heart of a believer. A spiritual revival usually results in a surge of generous giving to God’s work and the needs of other people. Revival touches not only the heart but also the wallet.3. WE are also blessed when we give
This is the surprise element. When you give you receive! This is a powerful spiritual principle that often baffles the rational mind because it doesn’t make sense.
Natural wisdom says, “When I give, I make a loss.” God’s wisdom says, “When you give, you actually gain!” This is the miracle of giving! When we give or invest in the kingdom of God it’s not lost or gone. It is still “there” – in our heavenly investment account. God has a record of it and there is a multiplied return on what we give. Jesus teaches this (Matt.6:19-21), as does Paul (see Phil.4:10-19 and 1 Tim.6:17-19).
Natural wisdom says, “I’ll give when all my needs are met.” “I can’t afford to give” or “I’ll give when I’ve got some surplus.” God’s wisdom says, “Give now, even in your time of need, and watch me work!” The Bible teaches that when we give in faith (trusting totally in God) even when we are in a time of need; his miraculous provision begins to come our way. He only asks us to give of what we already have (not what we don’t have) and as we go first, in faith and obedience, we release his blessing into our life. This principle is taught explicitly throughout the Bible and there are also many illustrations of people who experienced the miracle of giving and then God breaking through to meet their need (see Gen.26:1, 12-14; 1 Kings 17; Luke 21:1-4; 2 Cor. 8:1-7).
Generosity has nothing to do with the ‘amount’ given. It has everything to do with the ‘attitude’ in which something is given. The Bible has much to say about the blessings that come through generous giving (Ps.112:5; Prov.3:9-10; 11:24-25; 19:17; Luke 6:38; 2 Cor. 9:6). When we give we are blessed too! Again, this should not be our motive in giving but it should be our expectation! We give because we want to and love to (not have to). As a by-product, we always receive in the process. If you sow, you will reap! If you don’t sow, you won’t reap. This is a law and a principle that God has ordained. To Tithe or not to Tithe?
There has been a lot of debate about tithing over the years. Some churches and preachers believe that all of the Old Testament laws of tithing still apply to Christians today. They believe that if Christians don’t tithe they are under a curse and will not receive the blessing of God in their lives (see Mal.3:8-12). One preacher is known to have said that there were people who were sick in his church – because they hadn’t been tithing faithfully. Other churches and preachers believe that the Old Testament teaching about tithing is no longer relevant for Christians today and that we are no longer under these laws. There are plenty of books and articles out there against tithing. Here at CityLife, we believe that Jesus came to set us free from the curse of the law. We are not under the Old Covenant any more. Of course, under the New Covenant, everything (100%!) that we have is to be seen as belonging to God and available for his use at any time. We teach that ‘tithing’ – giving 10% of our income to the work of God – is an excellent principle of good financial management (not a law).
Interestingly, Abraham, the “father of all who believe (Rom.4:11),” gave a tithe of the spoils of a battle he won (Gen.14:20), well before there was any law about tithing (under Moses). The teaching in the New Testament about giving focuses on “generosity”. We give, not because we have to (out of a sense of duty) OR because we are afraid of being judged if we don’t, but because we want to – voluntarily and willingly (see Paul’s teaching in 2 Cor.8-9). Giving 10% of our income to God’s work is just the starting point to a life of generosity.
We are thankful to our church partners who commit to support the work of God through the church by giving 10% of their income. Without them, we could not do the ministry we are involved in today. Notice that even Jesus commended the Pharisees for handling their giving well (Mt.23:23). They went the extra mile. They didn’t think about how little they could give. Jesus affirmed them for this, while challenging them to not neglect the more important matters of the law, such as justice, mercy and faithfulness.
Without God’s help we will easily succumb to materialism, become prisoners to our debt, and be unable to experience the joy of generous giving. With God’s help we can curb the spirit of greed that so pervades our society, live within our means, and have a generous spirit of giving. As a church, let’s seek to excel in everything, including giving (2 Cor.8:7). How would you describe yourself? Are you a non-giver, a giver, or a generous giver? Make a choice to give more generously … in every area of our life.Sample Discussion Questions
1. Why do you think ‘money’ is such a sensitive subject to talk about, especially in church?
2. Ask for any testimonies of the benefits or blessing of generous giving.
3. Share a time when you benefited from the generosity of someone else. How did it feel?
4. Share ways we can live more generous lives other than through financial giving.
5. Discuss the practice of tithing (giving 10%) and how it’s a good principle for honouring God financially.
6. Have some testimonies of the benefits of serving – giving our time generously for the benefits of others.
7. Pray for business owners, those who believe they have the gift of giving, those facing financial difficulty (including unemployment), as well as for all employees.