By Cindi McMenamin, Crosswalk.com
In this economic recession, it’s easy to believe we can’t afford to be generous with others.
Whether we’re giving of our time or money, it seems there is barely enough of either for us to get by, let alone give to others.
Yet, a true test of our faith is if we’re willing to believe God when He says He’ll be generous with us when we are generous with others.
Under the New Covenant, Jesus instructed His followers to give generously in proportion to how we would like God to be generous toward us (Luke 6:38). God also wants us to give out of a grateful response to what we’ve been given. We’ve been given salvation, so haven’t we been given everything? In that regard, Jesus didn’t teach us to give just a tenth, as the Old Testament law mandated. He taught us, in some ways, to give our all. Giving our all to Jesus—of our time, talents and treasure—is evidence of not just our obedience, but our love for Him.
It really doesn’t matter how much you have—or don’t have—when it comes to giving to the Lord’s people so He can bless others through you. It’s more a matter of trust. How much do you trust God to bless when you seek to bless others in His name?
For nearly 30 years, my husband and I lived on a small church pastor’s salary—including a few years in which my husband took a much-needed (but unpaid) sabbatical and supported our family on a couple of minimum-wage paying jobs. I can honestly tell you that God has always provided everything we have needed and so much of what we’ve wanted. Even during those sparse times, we were still able to be generous with others. Based on three decades of seeing God come through for my family financially and otherwise, here are just five ways God blesses when we give to others:
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1. God blesses us with a looser grip on our possessions.
Material possessions can tend to have a hold on us. Especially if we really like what we have—that nice new car, that beautiful home, the expensive designer handbag. Yet what do we have that God hasn’t ultimately given us? When we begin to share—or outright give—to others what we have held dear to ourselves, it frees us from being in bondage to things that can wrap themselves around our hearts and become objects of worship. It also brings us joy.
At a women’s conference where I spoke, I genuinely (and without intention) complimented “Dara” on a beautiful jacket she was wearing. She told me she had purchased it in Paris, while on a wedding anniversary trip with her husband. As I was getting ready to leave the conference, I found the jacket draped over my book bag. I panicked, thinking Dara had forgotten it. A friend of Dara’s, who stayed behind to monitor the situation, said: “She left that for you and got out of here quickly so you couldn’t refuse it.” I got Dara’s email address from the conference director and emailed her my gratitude and shock that she would do something so generous. She responded and let me know the blessing was hers. Dara explained she had learned that life is fleeting and possessions are temporary and there was more eternal gain in giving me a jacket I admired, than keeping it for herself. Dara’s joy—at releasing something to someone else that held sentimental value—apparently exceeded my own thrill of suddenly owning something I could never afford to buy. I have since looked for opportunities to do the same for someone else. Having a loose hold on our possessions is truly a blessing.
2. We gain more of an eternal mindset.
By nature, we invest not just our time, but our money, in what is most important to us. So, does that mean we continue to rack up more for ourselves? When we give to others, we are refraining from stacking up stuff and we are living out Jesus’ command in Matthew 6:20-21 to “store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:20-21).
That is our command to invest in the eternal. God’s Word also tells us to be heavenly-minded by setting our minds “on things above” (Colossians 3:2). As we give to God and His people and invest in His kingdom, that’s where our hearts will be fixed and focused. Giving to others prioritizes our lives and reminds us that God is first, others are second, and we are last—evidence of our love for Him and others (Matthew 22:37-39).
3. We receive the joy that results from obedience.
We are commanded in 2 Corinthians 9:7 to “give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” The Greek word for cheerful is hilaro, where we get our English word hilarious. Although many pastors teach that verse is saying we are to give hilariously (and who really does that?), the word hilaro in its original context to its original audience meant “joyful, cheerful, non-reluctant, already inclined, won over.” In other words, give preparedly and with an anticipation of what God will do to multiply it for His purposes. That kind of giving produces joy, and an excitement of wanting to give more. That’s another blessing of giving away money and possessions, even if you don’t think you have enough to give.
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4. God gives us a greater awareness of the needs of others.
In Second Corinthians 9:6-11, we are told that as we give generously and cheerfully “God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others” (verse 8 NLT).
Scripture further promises that God “will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous” (verses 10-11).
The more you and I give, the more God will give us…so that we can continue to give. Did you catch that? We don’t give because we’ll get. We give out of gratitude for what God has given to us, and so that God will give us more so we can give more. Jesus said, “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back” (Luke 6:38 NLT).
When we give to others we not only become less selfish (by holding onto less for ourselves), but God begins to open our eyes to see the needs of others, both spiritually and materially. It causes us to pray that we would become aware of the people who need our help and available to help them as God directs. It makes us surrender our lives as the vessels through which God can work on this earth and provide for and bless others through us. We often say we want to be a part of God’s work. We can do that through a mouth that is willing to speak, hands that are willing to help, and a heart that is willing to surrender all—even our finances and possessions—to God so He can multiply the works of our hands and treasures.
5. God increases our faith in His provision for us.
Jesus told His followers: “If God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?” (Matthew 6:30).
There is nothing more exciting than watching God come through for us, time and time again, as we are obedient to Him and faithful with what He has given us. God’s not obligated to provide for us. He does it because He’s a good Father who loves to give gifts to His children (Matthew 7:9-11).
When you give and see God continue to give back to you, it erases any room for doubt, worry, or anxiety. Wouldn’t it be nice to live without financial stress? You can when you give to others and watch God provide for you. Jesus said, “don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (verses 31-33).
In those words, Jesus gave us a formula for trusting Him daily for our provision, and not stressing about money or anything else by worrying about tomorrow. When you continue to give to God and others, He blesses you with a confidence that you can never out-give Him.
Lord, make us people who are ever aware of the needs of others and willing to give as You direct. Help us to trust You to meet our every need and the needs of others through what You have given us. In Jesus’ mighty and capable name, Amen.
For more on trusting God for your provision, see Cindi’s books, When Women Walk Alone, and When Couples Walk Together: 31 Days to a Closer Connection.
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