Inspiration

The Ministry of Giving Part 1

Whenever a sermon is titled Giving, first thing that comes to mind is putting money in the church coffers. But is that the be all and end all of giving? Let's talk about it.

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Does giving to the church equate to giving to God?

What a question! A question I will answer mathematically and say that giving to the church is not equal to giving to God. Before I lose you let me present this equation with mathematical symbols.

 Giving to the church≠ Giving to God

And this is because : Giving to God > Giving to the church

(Giving to God is greater than giving to the church)

For the right side to be equal to the left side, there are other variables, other forms of giving that a believer should engage in to ADD on to it (mathematically). In summary giving to the church is definitely part of giving to God but it is not the one and only way to give to God. Allow me to clarify as well that by “church” I refer to the institutions that give rise to denominations, the finance departments and not necessarily the unified body of Christ.

The reason I decided to address this is because whenever a sermon is titled Giving, it becomes synonymous to dropping money in the offering basket or tithing. Although a lot of non-Christians are critical of this definition of giving, for Christians it has become a comfort zone. I am not saying parting with your money is any easy, but if we are to be honest, this will have to be the easiest way to give to the Almighty God who dwells in Heaven above. It is a simple act of putting your money in the offering basket on a Sunday, holding on to the promise that you will get it back pressed down, shaken together and running over. For some it is met with instant gratification as they are paraded on the pulpit as highly generous and blessed and praised by the whole congregation. It is indeed hard to part with your money for the church (the institution), but it is less challenging than the other forms of giving required by the Word of God.

GIVING YOURSELF TO GOD

Most giving-titled sermons are based on John 3v 16, ‘’For God so loved the world that he GAVE…’’. This is used to explain that giving is a sign of love, which is very true. However, what catches my attention more about this Gift that God gave was that it was the MOST PERFECT GIFT. It was perfect because for the Giver, He was giving His most prized possession, and for the receiver it was the most needed gift. Man was in dire need for salvation, without it he was going to perish, and to God, Jesus was His most valued possession, His begotten Son whom he dearly loved.

The most perfect gift

When it is now our turn to give back to God, what is the most perfect gift? Is it our offering? If giving to the church is the most perfect gift, that would mean that man’s most valued possession is his money and God is in dire need of this money and wealth. I’m sure we can all agree that this is not so. God gave up His Son so that he could save Man, his heart, his soul and his spirit and this is a sign that this is God’s deepest desire, the heart of man. On this other end, while we can point out that, where a man’s treasure is, that is where his heart is, it goes on to prove that God is indeed asking for your treasure for the sole purpose of getting your HEART. The heart of man then is the perfect gift, because to the giver, it is his most prized possession and to the receiver, now God, it is His deepest desire. In this whole equation of Giving to God, I would think this form of giving definitely holds the most weight, giving yourself to God.

It is from this form of giving that all the other forms of giving will fall right into place. God desires for a man’s heart to be fully turned to a heart that deeply loves and obeys God. When He created man, (Genesis 1v 26), His desire was to have a man who is exactly like Him, with a heart and will fully aligned to His. He desires sons and daughters that are like Him, in character and power, led by His Spirit (Romans 8 v 14). Hearts turned away from darkness, living in righteousness and holiness. Hearts full of truth, light and above all, love.

Laying our lives down

This is the hardest form of giving for most believers, myself included. Because of our fallen state, it is not easy to give up our egos, our desires and ambition to God. This surrender is not just raising your hands in church on a Sunday, but an everyday walk where we totally give ourselves up to the will of God. A surrender where we are obedient to His instruction. We are, however, battling selfish intentions with every decision we make, and in some we make the wrong choices. Even Paul talked about this struggle in Galatians 5 v 17. Our spirit man who is easily aligned to God, battles with the heart that is inclined to the selfish nature of the flesh.

It is this giving that gives the true definition of what Christianity is about. We however hide our hearts from God and get comfort in the fact that we have given money to the church and to his children as substitution without realizing that God desires our obedience more than our sacrifice (1 Samuel 15 v 22). Giving to the church is only a way to train us to give our hearts to God. There are also other ways that teach us to do so like praying, fasting, worship and reading and meditating on the Word of God.

A case of Mary v Martha

God wants us to lay down our lives before Him as a living sacrifice, to give our whole hearts to Him and to dwell in His Presence. Mary was one example of what Jesus desired us to be. While we can honor Jesus with our money, our acts of service, our gifts or efforts like Martha did, Jesus preferred what Mary did, to sit at His feet, and pay attention to His Word, listening to what was on His HEART. Jesus would prefer us to stay close to Him, give our attention to His heart and give ourselves to Him. It also reminds me of Peter and John. Peter was loved by Jesus because he was always busy with things to do, but John was dearer to Jesus’ heart because he loved Jesus’ presence, he loved listening to His heart. He gave himself up entirely, his abilities, his ambitions to learning the will of Jesus and I believe that was the reason why he got access to many secrets and mysteries.

The Macedonians were commended for their sacrificial gift that they gave to the saints and they were able to do that because they gave THEMSELVES first to God, before the gift (2 Corinthians 8 v 5). When we give ourselves and our hearts first and fully to God, it is easier for us to give to the saints, to our local churches and to others.

GIVING TO YOURSELF

I was shocked when I read for myself the passage of scripture that talked about tithing. If you were like me, and took the pulpit definition of tithing only, I challenge you to read for yourself Deuteronomy 14 v 22.-26. God instructed the Israelites to have a tithe separate for one’s self. For him to eat a tithe of his own grain and if he was far away from the temple, he could sell this grain and buy for himself whatever he desired. This was different from the Levite tithe though. The reason for this tithe, as per instruction, was for the Israelites to learn to revere God always and to rejoice in God’s presence. 

Why we should give to ourselves

God desires for us to be happy and to rejoice in His presence too. He desires for man to enjoy the fruits of his labor. God requires us to love others as we love ourselves. This means that for us to love others deeply, we should be able to love ourselves. This does not mean to regard ourselves high above others, but to have the same kind of love. We usually learn how to love others from the way we love our own selves. When we are consciously aware of how to love ourselves, it is easier to comprehend and understand how others are to be loved. Thus, the rule will apply, do unto others as you would like it done to you.

C.S Lewis gave this example on the concept of forgiveness. He said it might be hard to grasp the concept of hating the sin and still love the man when we look at the next person, but there is this one person you will love despite their mistakes, and that is yourself. When you learn to forgive yourself for your mistakes and errors, you can also extend this same forgiveness to others. When you love yourself purely, not with any pride, you will learn the value of extending the same grace to others. 

 Ephesians 5 v 28 instructs husbands to love their wives as their bodies. Believers ought to give care to their bodies, because it is in this way that one will learn to love their significant other. We cannot give from an empty cup.

What can you give to yourself?

You can give yourself the fruits of your labor as instructed by the tithe, for you to rejoice in it, but money and material things are not the only things to gift yourself with. You can;

  • ·         Give yourself time to REST. Even Jesus would take time off in the mountains to recuperate and find his strength again for others.
  • ·         Give yourself HEALTH, to every extend possible to you. Take care of your body, which is the temple of God and treat yourself with respect and honor.
  • ·          Give yourself time to heal from the traumas of your past for they will only wear you down. A bitter soul will only damage itself because it blocks all avenues of healing.
  • ·          Give yourself the opportunity to love and feel love. Give yourself the opportunity to be the best version of yourself.

·         Above all, give yourself the opportunity of the salvation of your soul by accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.

To be continued……

 

 

I exalt you higher than every thought, every god and all desires. You are worth it Yahweh

Vanessa

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My name is Vanessa Banda-Chidhumo. Welcome to Reverence, a lively and thought-provoking blog focused on dissecting the word of God, acts of charity and pure worship.

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