Our focus this year is “Back to the Basics,” and one of the basic parts of the Christian life is giving. She gives is one of the core components of our women’s ministry model that is available to download and print for free.
One definition of the word give is “to freely transfer the possession of something to someone, or to hand over.” I am drawn to that definition of freely transferring possession of something. God’s people were commanded to give offerings for sacrifices to atone for sins. The commands were rigorous and specific. In the wilderness, the people gave to help outfit the Tabernacle and provide all the special tools and apparel for the priests. Later, King David exhorted the people to give “for the service of the House of God,” the temple Solomon would build. And did the people ever give! Gold, silver, bronze, iron, and semi-precious stones were given in abundance. First Chronicles 29:9 says, “Then the people rejoiced because they had given willingly, for with a whole heart they had offered freely to the Lord. David the king also rejoiced greatly.”
I am convicted by that description of the Israelites’ giving “willingly,” “with a whole heart,” and “freely” because that describes the kind of giver I want to be. When giving is mentioned in church today, people automatically think about money. I certainly believe that Christians should give money. My husband is a pastor, and our livelihood depends on the generosity of God’s people. In 2nd Corinthians 9:6-8, Paul exhorts the people to give and reiterates the spiritual principle of sowing and reaping either sparingly or bountifully, telling the church that God loves a cheerful giver. Paul teaches that we should not give reluctantly or under compulsion. Sometimes though I think it is a far easier thing to give money than to give my time in ministry efforts or to give my emotional energy to be in relationship with and care for people in need around me. Committing to teach a children’s class weekly, or entering into a mentor or discipleship relationship, or walking closely with a friend through an illness or divorce can all be very costly in terms of time and energy. As I examine my heart, do I willingly, freely, enthusiastically, and joyfully choose to give to the Lord by giving both money and time in ministry?
My dad was an example of a super abundant, cheerful giver. He always taught my sisters and me that you can’t out give God. I remember him saying, “God doesn’t need your money, but you need God’s blessings that come when you give.” My parents both had a generosity of spirit as evidenced by opening their home, hearts, and wallets to support churches, ministries, and missionaries. Their lives bore out the principle of Malachi 3:10, which says, “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of host, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” My parents gave faithfully, and I witnessed how God poured out blessings as a result. I very rarely remember cars breaking down or appliances having to be replaced. My dad was a schoolteacher and later an administrator, so he never was a rich man, but I observed his abundant generosity to a level that almost didn’t make sense. My dad knew the secret that none of it was his anyway. Psalm 89:11 states, “The heavens are Yours, the earth is also Yours; the world and all it contains, You have founded them.” What a gift my father gave me by teaching me that everything—my time, my money, my talents, even my very life—is not mine at all but belongs to God. When I pair that knowledge with the fact that God gave first and gave Jesus so that I can have eternal life and abundant life here, how can I not be a giver?
When I get tired and don’t feel excited about preparing the Bible lesson for the 3rd-5th graders on Wednesday evenings or I groan at the thought of spending the evening listening to a friend who is hurting, I only need to turn and consider the cross and what Jesus did for me. How can I not be humbled and then rejoice that I GET to do ministry?
My prayer is that as we continue this journey, we will see every avenue the Lord opens to us for ministry as a new opportunity to rejoice because we give “willingly . . . with a whole heart . . . offered freely to the Lord.” What and where is God asking you to give today?