Giving--Part 2
by Robert J. Young

Another Look at Giving
[Note: developed in part from materials in the Sweet series on stewardship]

Interesting which of the NT metaphors to describe our relationship to God are often out of view. God is the store owner, I am the manager. When did you last hear that one? Or if you're not in management, what of the employer/employee relationship? Today, thinking about relationships. Sharing grows out of relationships. Generosity grows out of connections between people. Case in ministry, in missions, in growing in giving.

Begin with story--2/1; 5/2. Ever feel like that 5th sparrow? What can we learn about ourselves, about our God, about relationships, about God's plan for us.

1. Treasured creation--spiritual like he is.
Tit. 2:14; 1 Pet. 2:9; Exod. 19:5-6. Even before we commit ourselves to him, we are his, and he treasures us in our uniqueness among his creation. Rom. 5:8.

2. Special servant--godly/holy like he is.
As servants, we honor the master or Lord. He is the giver of all we have. He gives us for our own use. He gives us for his use.
God's ownership is clear in Scripture. Gen. 24:35, Ps. 50:10; Acts 17:25; 1 Tim. 6:17.
As servants, we must decide to use what he gives to serve him, and bring him glory, rather than simply satisfying our desires, 1 Tim. 6:18.
This view balances our lives. Whether we prosper or face difficulties, we praise him and serve without pride or greed. We will be separate and set apart and pure as he is. We will not be affected by anything other than our special relationship to the Master. Dt. 8:18; 1 Chr. 29:12. We can serve him with all we have, knowing that he will provide for us (2 cor. 8:12).
Thinking like a servant helps us keep our view of the world in check, and avoid becoming enamored with things. When we know God is the owner, we seek to please him in all ways and to avoid selfishness, 1 Tim. 6:6-10.
Knowing our servant status is so important, for it helps us avoid large debts and overspending. We do not become overconfident with misplaced trust. What does God want? rules the day. God wants us to enjoy the blessing he gives (1 tim. 6:17) and to make decisions that are good for us and for his kingdom and cause.

3. Trusted manager--faithful like he is.
Right thinking leads to right actions. Once we start thinking like the people we are in reality, treasured possession with spiritual capacity, special servants with an inside track to becoming like the master in holiness, we will be even more impressed with what it means to be God's trusted manager, and we will know better how to act as a manager of those things that are his.
We must recognize that our hearts and our money are tied together. (Mt. 6:19-21)
We must know that having a more spiritual heart assists us making more spiritual decisions. This is true even in how we spend our money and use our resources, for such decisions, as every decision in our lives, is spiritual because we are spiritual, treasured possessions.
Giving to God and his cause is a spiritual ministry. If we want God to consider us as trusted managers, then we must give generously to support the things near his heart (2 Cor. 9:6- 8). While this must not be our primary motivation, it is true that God gives more to those managers who demonstrate a willingness to use resources for his purposes. We can be both cheerful and generous because we know God will bless our efforts to serve through our financial abilities (2 Cor. 9:6-8).
Then when we read 1 Cor. 16:1-2, we find practical, inspired direction for keeping our financial management record on track. Give regularly, personally, systematically, proportionately.

4. Precious children--generous like he is.
God is training us because we belong to him and are of his family. God is entrusting to us resources because these can help prepare us for his coming kingdom. God's desire for us is not monastic. Since God owns everything and can make anything, it is obvious he could do the work without us. But....God gives us resources and lets us creatively decide how to use them, because he has special plans for us (1 Tim. 6:18). He wants us to know the joy of "rich in good deeds, willing to share, and life that is truly life." God wants us to discover this truth for ourselves, just as we want for our own children. Thus, God's training helps us become like Jesus, and like God himself (2 Cor. 8:9).
God is also providing for us because he loves us (1 Tim. 6:17). God wants us to enjoy his blessings, and God doesn't want us to be afraid to trust him. Some say, "If God will meet my needs, then I will trust him," but God says, "Trust me, and I will meet your needs."

A special story from Mark's gospel accentuates this truth. Mark. 12:41-44. The widow demonstrated personal faith and trust. She gave all she had and trusted God to provide. Are we willing to take God at his word, seriously, as she did? Even though the text doesn't tell us the result, we do know she sowed generously, and God's promise of faithful and secure (2 Cor. 9:6). Do you think God took care f her? Do you think he poured out more blessings on her or forced her into greater destitution? These are faith questions. Mal. 3:9, 10; Luke 6:38; 2 Cor. 9:10-11.

The answer you give, the answer I give, will reflect how willing we are to trust God. If he can take care of a widow who gave all, will he not take care of us?

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Last updated November 23, 2001.