Where your treasure is there your heart is also. — Matthew 6:21
Sadly, there is a real reluctance among preachers to talk about giving. Why is this topic so distasteful to — in fact, hated by — so many?
One of my mentors summed it up this way. Nothing gets more personal than one’s money and how it is spent. If a preacher wants to step on his congregants’ toes, he just to talk about giving and he will be accused of meddling.
On the other hand, nothing is a better indicator of one’s spiritual walk with the Lord (one’s faith) than his or her attitude toward giving. Just look at your checkbook or you debit statement, and you will see clearly what your priorities are.
So, are you a cheerful giver, or does God have to squeeze it out of you?
According to Jesus, giving is not about the law but rather about your heart. What is the condition of your heart toward giving? Or better yet, what is the condition of your heart toward the Lord? Are you sold out for Jesus? Or are you sold out for things?
In his second letter to the church at Corinth, in Chapter 8, Paul describes two congregations, one in Macedonia and the other in Corinth. The Macedonian church was suffering from a great deal of affliction and deep poverty, yet they gave joyfully and with liberality to the special offering for the saints in Jerusalem.
Paul described their giving this way, "Not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God."
Jesus was their treasure or, in other words, they were sold out for Jesus and knew that you can’t outgive God.
The church in Corinth was a different matter. Paul describes them as having an abundance, but suffering from worldliness. They began the offering with enthusiasm but quickly put it on the back burner, and Paul had to send Titus to complete the work. Paul did not command them to give to the offering, for as he said later in 2 Corinthians 9:7, "Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."
Rather, Paul encouraged them to give out of a Christ-filled heart for Jesus. This is our guide in giving. How did he give? He gave it all (his very life) and took it all (the wrath of God that was meant for all of us)! Jesus gave out of the overflow of his heart and his love for us. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 8:9, "Though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor."
Therefore, in an attitude of gratitude, we give what we have now in anticipation of a great harvest some time later. For Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 9: 6, "He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully."
Banks is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church Hinesville and a member of the United Ministerial Alliance.