We have each been entrusted with time, talents, and resources which we are to carefully and responsibly manage. I believe the Bible has much to say on this subject, because our motivation for giving is as important as the act itself. The precept of Stewardship is the basis for my devotional book, First Fruits—giving God our first and best.
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all you that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:7–8 (NIV)
After C.J. and I married, we gave our offering on Sundays and felt pretty good about it, both having grown up in Christian homes where giving was taught. We understood the concept of giving to help the church continue its ministry to “the least and the lost.” We were living on the meager salaries of a high school teacher/coach and a secretary, so it wasn’t a huge amount, but it was our effort to reach the goal of tithing 10%.
One Sunday morning, a very successful member of our church gave a testimony on tithing. I was surprised to learn that he did not invest on Wall Street, but what he said next struck a chord within me. He had found that investing in the Lord’s work was the only investment he and his wife would ever need. He reminded us the stock market could be volatile, but the consistency of giving to God paid immeasurable, incomparable and irrefutable dividends. Luke 6:38 was his reference:
“Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
As my husband and I began faithfully tithing ten percent of our income to the Lord, we soon found that we truly could not out-give God. Our blessings came to us in ways we did not expect and at times we could not have appointed. It has been a source of encouragement to us that even though we may not have the gift of teaching or preaching, we can share in God’s work to reach those in need of a Savior, as well as giving for their physical and emotional needs of clothing and counseling – both in our community and around the world.
Of course, giving our money is only part of the equation. If we truly want to please God, we have to think about the other practical needs believers and non-believers share. Remember the parable Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 25:31–43 (NLT), paraphrased:
After the Second Coming of Christ, Jesus returns with all His angels and sits on His throne, all the nations gather and He separates them, putting the sheep on the right and goats on the left. He tells the sheep on His right to take their inheritance because “I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.” Then his sheep, the righteous, ask him when they had done these things. His reply: “I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!”
God expects us to use our hands to share the gifts He has given us, whether it is giving financially, encouraging, cooking, listening, sewing, repairing, delivering, singing, writing, teaching, inspiring—whatever we can give to others to make their life better will be remembered and rewarded when Jesus returns. What a glorious inheritance awaits those whose minds are set on Him.