Rev. John Willoughby
Jn 3:16. God has put into motion spiritual laws, which govern life – one of these is the law of generosity. It teaches us that, “whoever sows generously will also reap generously. ” (II Cor 9:6).
1/. PARTNERSHIP WITH GOD
The Bible says, “We ‘work together as partners -who belong to God. You are God’s field, God’s building — not ours ” (I Cor 3:9). It is important for us to understand where our responsibilities lie.
a) Ownership of all-is with God. IChron29:10-12. The Bible says, ” The heavens are Yours and the earth is Yours; everything in the world is Yours – You created it all” (Ps 89:11). Everything belongs to God, including all we have – possessions, careers, families. He has given us all of these things to enjoy (I Tim 6:17), however, when we realise that they still belong to Him, we can rest in the assurance that God also has ultimate responsibility for them.
b) Stewardship of what we have – is with us. I Cor 6:19-20. Unlike an owner, a steward manages that which belongs to someone else. Therefore as God’s stewards we have an obligation to be faithful in taking care of all we have for Him and He will hold us responsible for this (Mt 25:14-30). When we understand the Owner-steward relationship it becomes easy to give. Before God, stewardship covers every single thing that belongs to us – our time (Col 4:5), our talents and abilities (I Pet 4:10), our possessions (Mt 6:19-21), our finances (Mt 6:24) and the message of the Gospel (I Cor 9:16-17). Many Christians still struggle to tithe, but the action that releases us into the full blessings of good stewardship is surrender – the unreserved submission of one’s entire life, possessions and plans to God’s will and purpose.
2/. GENEROSITY IN THE EARLY CHURCH
Acts 2:44-45. 4:32. The attitude of the early Christians laid the foundation for every expression of giving that was to come later. It expressed their understanding of stewardship – that everything ultimately belongs to God and the words of Jesus, “// is more blessed to give than to receive ” (Acts 20:35) became a reality.
a) They supported the needy. Acts 6:1-3. Special men were chosen to serve as deacons, who made it their ministry to channel all the giving to where there was a practical need.
b) They gave sacrificially to one another. II Cor 8:1-4. When some Christians were in need, others supported them.
* They worked to be able to give. Eph 4:28.
* Giving was the proof of their love. IJn 3:17-18.
c) They supported ministries. Phil 4:15-18. The Apostle Paul, while travelling to establish new churches, sometimes worked with his hands to provide his own support (II Thess 3:7-9). On other occasions the Christians showed the true spirit of giving, which God commends, by supporting him and other ministries.
3. GOD’S PRINCIPLES OF GENEROSITY
In I Cor 10:11, we are told to learn from Israel’s example and to apply the principles given them by God, avoiding their mistakes and rebellion. In the area of giving, we find some excellent guidelines in the Old Testament that can help us today.
a) God expects us to tithe of our income. Mai 3:8-12. Let us note from these verses that we “rob God”, if we do not tithe (v8) and the result of this is a “curse ” (v9). If we “bring all the tithes into the storehouse ” (church which we attend), great blessings result (vlO-12). Jesus said, “If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving- large or small – it will be used to measure what is given hack to you” (Lk 6:38).
b) We are to give the first and best to the Lord. Prov 3:9-10. Under the old covenant when offering sacrifices to the Lord, they always needed to give an animal, which was without blemish – the best of their flocks. How much more so do we, who live under a “better covenant” need to give our best. The Bible says, “a generous man devises generous things and by generosity he shall stand’ (Is 32:8).
I realize the importance of having a generous heart and attitude towards others. Today I commit myself to begin a life of giving, by starting to tithe (a tenth of my income) to the Lord’s work. I will also.