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- Jacob Ninan
'Giving' probably receives the greatest emphasis, statistically speaking, in sermons worldwide, especially on TV, and yet it looks as if very few Christians have understood its true spirit. Giving is commonly promoted as a means for receiving back multi-fold. Call it a business deal with God. This is beefed up on the other side with threats of judgment on those who don't pay up! What is happening in effect is preachers trying to pry open the closed fists of people who are very reluctant to give otherwise. One gets the impression that greedy men with determination are trying to persuade half-converted men with worldly interests to part with the thing they want more of.
God certainly wants us to learn to give. But He hates this giving under compulsion. He loves those who give cheerfully (2Co.9:7). He wants us to understand that it is actually more blessed to give than to receive (Ac.20:35). In other words, God is looking for people who will be delighted to give--to the work of His kingdom and to those in need.
Someone has said that we can know the genuineness of a man's conversion by the openness of his purse. It takes a genuine conversion of our heart--from the greedy, self seeking, pleasure loving hearts to hearts that love God above all things, and love, value and respect other people as much as ourselves (Mt.22:37-39)--to start giving cheerfully. It is only then that we start wanting to give.
Look at the example which Paul gave to the Corinthians of the Macedonian church. They gave of their own accord, according to their ability and beyond their ability (2Co.8:3). Their liberality overflowed with joy in the midst of their afflictions (v.2). How did this happen? Because of Paul's manipulative exhortations or fearsome threats? No, they first gave themselves to God and then to the others (v.4,5). It is where these are lacking that there is a reluctance or hesitation to give.
Another thing to keep in mind is that whatever we have is given to us by God as a stewardship--for which one day we have to give an account. We must get rid of the concept that once we have made a certain contribution to God, the rest belongs to us to use as we please. God has purchased us with the blood of His Son and He has the ownership rights to ask us to do whatever He likes, with our bodies, time, money, talents, etc. We need to live in recognition of this as 'living sacrifices' (Ro.12:1). Without this acknowledgment from our side, our hands cannot really become open for giving--we will always be looking out for receiving. What is lacking is not exhortation but something deeper inside us.
God richly rewards those who give. If we sow sparingly or abundantly, our reward will be according to that (2Co.9:6). He rewards us materially and spiritually, and we value both. But when we give from the heart, our eyes will be on who or what we are giving to, and not what we will get in return. Slowly we learn that it is much better to give than to receive.