Gifts of the Spirit- Giving
We are continuing our sermon series on the Spiritual Gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives people gifts that help with the work of the church. No one is given all the gifts, but when we all work together then we are much more effective as we do God’s work in the world.
This week we are looking at the gift of giving. Every Christian is called to be a giving person, just as all Christians are called to be people who serve. And just as some Christians have a special gift for service, so some of us have a special gift for giving.
Giving is an important discipline for all Christians in the life of the church. Christians give because God wants us to learn to be generous people. Giving is a spiritual discipline that trains us to be thankful and to act and think in way that express our belief that all things belong to God. … Financial giving also teaches us to not bow down to money as an idol that has to be served. We learn to trust God with our lives, rather than trust money with our lives. We learn to use money as a tool, rather than serve it as a god (Matt 6:24).
Ideally Christians shouldn’t give out of a sense of obligation- We read that “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7). As Christians, our motivation for giving is rooted in our thankfulness for what we have received from God. We know that everything we have has been put into our hands by our generous and loving Creator- we read that
“Everything in heaven and earth is yours. … Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand” (1 Chronicles 29:11,14).So, we receive from God and in loving response we offer our lives to the One who made us. Our lives are to be “a living sacrifice…to God” (Romans 12:1). It is a beautiful back and forth. God offers to us and in response we offer to God. This is not out of duty, but out of sacrificial love, which is seen most clearly in God’s offering of Himself on the cross. We are called to a generosity that is in response to God’s generosity to us.
Isaiah shows us another angle on giving. In Isaiah we are encouraged towards faith that matters, saying,
“Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him …” (Is 58:7).These are tasks that require the sharing of resources. In Matthew 25 Jesus says doing these things for those in need is to do them for him. … The relief of the poor and serving the Gospel have always been important reasons to give for the people of God. It was important for Paul, as he went about preaching the Gospel, to also raise funds for the poor in Jerusalem. Jesus’ ministry was also supported by generous givers.
We won’t always know who those with the gift of giving are in our congregation, because they will often give anonymously. The practice of giving anonymously is a discipline that is helpful for the giver to keep them giving for the right reasons, rather than for the admiration of others. So they have often learned to give in secret where their heavenly Father (and as few others as possible) can see (Matt 6:1-4).
The person with the gift of giving receives joy from giving money, or other material things. They can’t usually be pressured into giving. They will usually resist this kind of pressure. They aren’t wasteful- quite the opposite. They give carefully, so they do their research and they pray about it. They give to ministries they believe are doing good and important work, and who use their resources responsibly. As they feel God’s inner prompting, they respond with generosity. They might even be woken up in the middle of the night with a specific dollar amount they feel called to give, and that is often the exact amount that is needed just when it was needed. Someone’s car breaks down and the bill to get it fixed is $320. They might feel prompted to give that exact amount without knowing about their car problems. This situation is a source of great joy for them.
They give out of a sense that what they own is really God’s and it is their responsibility to distribute it as God desires. They don’t tie strings to their giving, and they don’t give out of an ulterior motive to control or manipulate those they give to. They will, however, usually pay close attention to the work of the ministry and they will diligently pray for those who are involved. They might even send encouraging letters and will often show up to help in practical ways.
Givers are very wise when it comes to finances. They know how to make money. They know how to get a good deal. They don’t waste money, and they aren’t easily taken in by scams. They are wise in business. They seem to have a bit of a golden touch. It seems is if God blesses them with resources so that they can give. Their businesses ventures are successful. Their investments grow. They know how to save. And they know how to spend their money wisely. … This will show up in their giving as well. Quality matters to the giver. If they are going to give someone a car, they want it to be practical and reliable. They aren’t going to give them a clunker.
Givers usually have a strong belief in tithing. They are diligent in giving away at least 10% of their income and some will go beyond this giving away 20% or 30% of their income. I have even heard of rare cases of people giving away 90% of their income. They have such a strong belief in tithing that they consider not giving at least 10% to be theft from God. God is the source of all they have, so God has a right to ask for it.
Like the other gifts of the Spirit, there are temptations for those with the gift of giving. They may be tempted to attach strings to their gifts. They may feel that they have a right to control or make decisions that are connected to their gift. For example, If they give money to paint the church, they might be tempted to think they should have a right to choose the colour.
They might also be tempted to pressure others to give. Everyone is tempted to see the world according to their own gift. Those with the gift of service are tempted to think others should be more willing to serve. Likewise, givers are tempted to think others should give more and they might pressure others to give, rather than allowing them to respond to God’s prompting.
Givers might also give without involving their spouse and this can place strain on their marriage. The instinct to keep giving secret, and the desire to follow the promptings of the inner voice of the Holy Spirit can leave their spouse mystified because the giving can seem random and surprising. The giver should find a way to involve their spouse in those decisions.
The giver might also see their involvement with the church exclusively through their giving. They might not get involved in the life of the church in ways that are important for a healthy Christian. They might not serve, for example, and might use giving in ways that they think they don’t need to get involved in other ways. It is important for Christians to engage in the life of the Christian community. Of course, not everyone can be involved to the same degree because of health, or work that causes one to travel, but it is important to engage in the Christian community.
We are blessed to have those with the gift of giving among us. They inspire us to give generously and wisely. They show us the difference we can make when we are generous together. They show us that money is a tool to serve, not a god to be worshiped. They show us how good and generous God is and they remind us that all we have is really God’s. We are just taking care of God’s resources- we don’t really own any of it. Givers teach us to think outside of ourselves and of the needs of others. The inspire us to make a practical difference in the lives of those around us.