“For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not…But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want, that there may be equality.” II Cor. 8:12, 14
“Every man, according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver.” II Cor. 9:7
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35
Young People, how much do you give? To your church! Parents! Christian Schools! Societies! Beacon Lights! Standard Bearer! Radio! Missions! Etc.!?
You would undoubtedly be somewhat shocked and perhaps even a bit offended if I would tell you that in spite of what you may say in reply to the above question, you really give nothing! You might vehemently disagree and point me to the undeniable facts that church budgets are higher than ever before; subscription rates to the above-named periodicals have doubled; society dues and assessments have increased; Christian schools are operating at higher costs; and to all of these things you contribute your proportionate share. How unkind it must seem to have such an insulting accusation hurled against you when you are obviously doing so much!
Yet, I hold to my claim! You really contribute nothing.
And, if this disturbs you and makes your blood temperature rise a few points, you had better now brace yourself and be prepared for a still greater shock, for next I am going to tell you that we not only fail to be real givers, but actually we are thieves. We steal from church, home, society, school, etc., instead of give.
Now, faithful member, do not quickly take offence at this but permit me to finish my essay. I am writing under “Truth vs. Error,” and when I consider the subject of Christian giving I find that, if not in theory, then at least in practice, error abounds much more than truth. The reason for this I find to be two-fold: (1) The sinfulness of our selfish old nature, and (2) Our failure to understand and practice the real and fundamental principles of giving.
Let us begin by discussing the latter of these in order that I may prove the allegations which I have made. To give, means that we freely impart that which is our own unto another. But, whereas we have nothing that we can rightly call our own, it is impossible for us to do this. Our life is not our own and much less the things which we call our possessions. None of us would deny that GOD is the sole Proprietor of all things. He has created them. They are all His and His alone. All things belong unto Him and we have nothing that we have not received. Because of this it is forever impossible for us to impart our own possessions unto another We have none to give. In all of our giving we can give, not our own goods, but those of God! We can give nothing!
This fact brings us to another fundamental principle of giving which is: that with respect to all things, we are never more than stewards of God. The Lord has committed much to our keeping, and unto Him we shall give a full account of our stewardship. To Him we are responsible for our use of His goods. When we analyze this concept a bit, we soon come to the conclusion that we are not only poor managers who mishandle much of our Lord’s goods, but from those goods we are constantly stealing. We are thieves!
Consider that the Lord requires of us that we serve Him perfectly with all things. Every moment of every day of every year we owe to Him. Every gift and talent and power He has endowed us with must be put into His service. Every penny of every dollar in our accounts belongs to Him. All that we possess, or call our own, we are to have, only that with it, we may be better equipped to serve Him. And whatever cannot be utilized in His service, we should not have in our custody. “It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” (I Cor. 4:2) That is what GOD demands!
What then do we do? As young people, some of us, undoubtedly, do not concern ourselves with church budgets even though we are gainfully employed and have a good income. Some escape giving attention to this matter because they have not yet made “confession of faith” and so have not “joined the church” (?) and consequently are not obliged to pay the budget. For them, a dime or a quarter per collection is “giving.” Others, confessed members, sometimes figure that they are not yet obliged because they are not yet “married” and the “head of a family,” and church budgets are only things of parental concern. They are figured in the family and the parents then “pay for them.” But is this our Christian stewardship? How can we say that we “give” in this way? Read again the texts above our essay!
Again, there are others, young people especially, (and I have seen it), who have “dollars” for tobacco, bowling, roller-skating, ball games, pleasures of every sort, and useless accessories to adorn their persons (or automobiles). These same folk regard three dollars a year too exorbitant a price for “Beacon Lights” and when the collection plate is passed, after an hour of catechetical instruction, they try to find a copper or small coin with which to adorn the plate. And if they so happen not to have any of these, they pass it by empty. Would you dare to call that “giving”? I call it stealing.
Then there are those who never have a contribution to their society. They come when they feel like it and stay away more often. They never participate in the programs and activities and use as an excuse, that they have no talent. Poor souls! God has given them nothing! (?) But the truth of the matter is that they don’t want to use what they have in the Lord’s service. These same individuals can do plenty in other spheres. Just observe them sometimes. The trouble is, they haven’t learned “to give.” Poor stewards, they are using the things of the Lord in the service of self. This, too, falls into the category of theft.
And so we might add more. If we have stepped on your toes it was not with the intention of hurting you, but rather in order to wake you up. We do not purpose to offend you, but rather to instruct. Neither do we beg for the cause of the Lord, for that cause needs no begging; but we only call attention to your Christian duty. It is your and my calling to “redeem the time for the days are evil.” Learn then to give of your time, talents, powers and possessions unto Him Who has given you all these things! Serve His cause well! And in doing so it is not so much a matter of how much you give but rather a matter of the spirit and manner in which you give. Be faithful always. Don’t give grudgingly. It’s just as well that you don’t give at all, as to give that way. Follow the Divine example, Who gave all in love! Remember that you can never begin to approximate such giving; but by grace you can only emulate it in a small measure. Remember, too, that your church, society, etc., needs you, and more important still, YOU NEED THEM! Give unto them that which you have and do so cheerfully, for that is blessed.
To do so is indeed grace! It is only the regenerated heart that loves God above all that is able to do so. Only the ones who have been freed from sin by the power of the TRUTH, are able to walk in the TRUTH; and the rest walk in darkness and ERROR. As we sow, so we shall reap. Sow, therefore, bountifully and you may expect an abundant harvest, for “The Lord loveth a cheerful giver,” and you, who so give, will reap the reward of His love.