17 Dec Really Living Starts with Giving
Malachi 1:13b-14: “You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the Lord. Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations.”
God is the most generous person there is. From the planet we walk on, to the food we eat, water we drink, air we breathe and grace we enjoy, everything is a gift from God.
In response to His generosity, God had a plan to have us also be generous. In the Old Testament, there was a base tithe of 10 percent of one’s gross income. In addition, with various offerings, feasts and festivals, charity for the poor etc., the total amount God’s people were expected to give was at a minimum somewhere between 25-27 percent depending upon which Bible scholar you trust to run the numbers. Admittedly, in a society where much of the giving was done with such things as crops and livestock, getting precise percentages is more difficult than dealing with dollars.
Before long, however, some people kept trying to find a way to cheat God by keeping a higher percentage of His wealth for themselves. This just goes to show that most people are generous, but they are only generous to themselves.
Some people brought the most pathetic offering possible. God always wants our first fruits, meaning we give to Him first and we give Him our best. This includes the first and best hours of our day and dollars of our paycheck. But, people from Malachi’s day to our own try and give God their worst instead of their first. This included lame, diseased animals that were worthless even though God had given them an unblemished male in their flock to present to Him. Perhaps even worse, rather than giving to God of their own portfolio, they stole things and gave them to God hoping He would not notice the theft. These are the spiritual ancestors of Judas Iscariot who stole from God and kept the money so they could buy a rope with which to hang themselves.
Thankfully, when God sent Jesus Christ, He did not send a lame, worthless sacrifice. No, Jesus is God’s first fruits – the first and best of all who have walked the earth. For those who belong to Jesus Christ, we learn four things about giving.
One, giving is a blessing. Acts 20:35 says, “remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Two, giving is a joy. 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 says, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
Three, giving straightens out your heart. In Matthew 6:21, Jesus says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Lastly, giving is for all of life and not just your wallet. Generous people give their money, time, love, encouragement, blessing, words, deeds, and time to others. Giving people are more naturally forgiving people. Giving people make better Christians, spouses, parents, friends, co-workers, leaders, and siblings. The key to really living starts by giving.
Do you believe that God is pleased with your level of generosity towards both ministry and those in need?