Those are some of our first words when it comes to things we own.
They also are words that remind us that deep within each of us there is this kind of possessiveness about our stuff.
That’s why when it comes to money, wealth and possessions we need to constantly check our heart and seek to align it with God’s Word. Jesus said that we need to be careful what we treasure because our whole life has a way of organizing itself around the things we treasure. He went on to say that the only way to get it right and put things in perspective is to seek the Kingdom of God first, above all else (Matthew 6:20-21, 33).
And here’s something else, when it comes to giving the Apostle Paul says he wants us to “excel in the act of giving” (2 Corinthians 8:7). So how do we do that? How do we excel in the act of giving?
The truth is there’s much we could say, but to get us going here’s a few biblical principles to ponder:
First, honor God with all that you have. Again and again, the scriptures call us to honor god with our life, which includes our money and possession. Why is that? Well, in part, it’s because He owns it all. It’s all his. Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.”
Moses once told the people of Israel to “remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth” (Deut.8:18). And King David prays, with the whole nation joining him—“Who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us!” (1 Chron.29:14).
The first principle is the same throughout scripture. It’s all God’s. He’s the owner. We are only stewards. And it’s our responsibility to honor God with everything—to use it, or better, steward it for his glory (Genesis 2:15; Matthew 25:14-30; Colossians 3:23-24).
Second, give regularly. The Bible says, “You should follow the same procedure I gave to the churches in Galatia. On the first day of each week, you should each put aside a portion of the money you have earned.
Third, give to God first. Before we pay our bills. Before we go out to eat. Before we spend on entertainment, the scriptures remind us of the importance of giving to God first.
In an Old Testament principle, the people were called to give of the “first fruits” of their crops (Exodus 13:2, 23; 23:19; Leviticus 23:10,14).
Fourth, give generously. This doesn’t mean we give irrationally, or that we give such large sums of money that we put ourselves or our family’s well-being in jeopardy. But if we seek first the Kingdom of God and we are seeking to honor God with our lives then it is a natural response to give generously.
When we read about the first-century Macedonian believers we find that though they were very poor, they “over-flowed in rich generosity” (2 Corinthians 8:1-2).
Fifth, give sacrificially. Our giving ought to flow out of our willingness to put God first in everything (Philippians 4:14-19; Romans 12:1).
Sixth, give joyfully. The Apostle Paul teaches us that “God loves a person who gives joyfully” (2 Corinthians 9:7). Now that doesn’t mean that we are supposed to force a sense of joy in our lives. What Paul is getting at, and speaks about in other places (Philippians 4:4-7) is that joy ought to be the overflow of our life in Jesus Christ. It’s a natural response to the Father’s love.
Finally, give locally. There’s much that we could say here but suffice it to say that the scriptures call us to consider our place in the local body of Christ. Each of us is a member of the other (Romans 12:5). We all have gives that are meant to serve the great good of the whole (1 Corinthians 12).
God calls us, and then places us in a specific location, with specific relationships. This is our family. And in that family God calls us to flourish.
“We (note, the word “we” is plural) are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10).
So how do we get started? How do we “excel in the act of giving?” Let me suggest three ideas to get us moving forward on this.
1. Begin by checking your motives. Do a heart check. Give some time to pray and reflect on the scriptures. Listen to how the Holy Spirit is directing you. Are you giving with joy or is giving kind of just an afterthought, something that comes from the “leftovers?” Are you giving what’s convenient, or are you always seeking to be generous?
2. Take the next step. Don’t just think about it. But actually commit to take a step. Maybe it’s making a commitment to give regularly. Or maybe it’s saying that you’re going to give a tithe (10%). Whatever it is, make it happen.
3. Finally, take a step of faith. Don’t do just what you know you can control. But do a little more, take the step of faith, knowing that God will have to come through in a few areas of your life.
That’s a lot to ponder I know. But maybe that’s exactly what God is asking us to do these days. To be the kind of people who reflect his love, who live life for His honor, who and give generously to others.
Grace & peace,