Theology of Giving (with some Practical Ideas)
I believe that generations are won or lost to the gospel by how God’s people GIVE. God chooses to primarily reach people through people: the generous and sacrificial expressions of love. These expressions take on many forms: gifts of time, service, money, and most importantly, the knowledge of salvation, as what God has done in our lives gives us the impetus to give like Him! “We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19. We understand, based upon the Word of God, that our physical resources are limited and temporary, and so we give of these temporary things with the hope that the eternal things may be realized and received! So though Jesus Christ came to earth to be with us as one of us, in temporal, physical form of a tangible, fragile baby, it was for the expressed purpose of giving something eternal and priceless! “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)
When we give like the world, the world is not that impressed. When we give sacrificially, like our Lord, people sit up and take notice! Though this took place at a unique point in human history, I can’t help but think of Peter and John, after Pentecost, going up to the temple, and being used by God to heal a crippled beggar in Acts 3. Peter said in verse 6, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." Of course this caused a commotion, with all kinds of people running to them (3:11), and these new apostles take the opportunity to preach the Gospel, including repentance unto salvation. After Peter and John were threatened by the “authorities” to “not speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus, their final response in 4:20 is “we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” And I love the narrative in verse 13 which says, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”
Most if not all of us reading this right now cannot answer the way Peter and John did in verse 6, because we do have “silver and gold”, or at least a regular monetary means given by God by which we bless our world. Even the poorest among us have certain amenities that rival the lives of ancient kings! We also live in the richest of nations, with benefit upon benefit provided to us. These gifts from our Heavenly Father are for a purpose; the least of which is to test us to see whether we stay true to Him, but also it is to be used as temporary resources to invest towards the eternal Kingdom of God! (Matthew 25:14-30) We also need wisdom from God in weighing that which is good, and that which is best: James 1:16-17 “Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. Philemon 1:6 “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.”
What then, do we do with these “talents” and gifts from God, living in the richest nation in our world, and living with comparatively abundant religious liberty? We become careful stewards of God’s resources, and GIVE! Gift FIRST to the local church you are most committed to, and don’t let it end there! Remember our brothers and sisters in our eternal, spiritual family who have far less than us! 2 Corinthians 8:14 “At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality,” So in addition to the giving towards my local church, I would ask you to consider these other opportunities, which will not only provide occasion for sharing the Gospel, but also bless your own walk with Christ:
Support a Gospel-preaching missionary/evangelist who can keep you up-to-date on what God is doing in that region of the world (Child Evangelism Fellowship, Converge Worldwide, World Venture, Send Intl).
Sponsor a Child overseas (or two), raising them up in the Lord, through World Vision, Compassion International, Samaritan’s Purse, or a like-minded organization.
Give to the needs of the Persecuted Church, through Open Doors, Voice of the Martyrs, News Service 2000 (Dr. Pat).
Give to Bible translation and/or Bible distribution, so that others may receive the Word of God in their own native language! (Wycliffe, Open Doors, International Bible Givers, or Gideon’s)
Give to those who provide emergency care, but also do everything in the name of Christ (MN Adult/Teen Challenge, World Vision, etc).
Give generously, from the top, and not from your leftovers. Give as the Lord gave to you! May God richly bless your giving as you’ve already been blessed beyond measure! “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15)