Giving is not a minor topic in Scripture. In fact, the word give in its various forms is used 2,162 times throughout the Bible—that is more than believe (271 times), prayer (268 times), and love (714 times) all combined! Of the twenty-nine parables Jesus told, sixteen deal with money or possessions.
In addition to the parables on finances, Jesus preached on giving:
Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.—Luke 6:38
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.—Matthew 6:21
Yet, how many times have we heard it said: “I can’t afford to give”?
Is this statement valid? Does it represent a true lack of resources? Can we really not afford to give?
Actually, the opposite is true—we can’t afford not to give. Here’s why:
1. Giving Meets Our Needs
God does not command us to do that which we cannot do. Thus, God’s commands for giving do not rob us of our resources.
God does’t need our money; He is the one who has given it to us!
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.—James 1:17
He doesn’t command us to give to meet His needs; He has no needs.
For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.—Psalm 50:10–12
God commands us to give to meet our needs. More than we need material goods, we need to know God as our Provider and Sustainer. Giving reminds us that everything we have comes from God, and it increases our awareness of our dependence on Him.
2. Giving Points Us to Our Provider
Giving frees us from the belief that we are our own providers. As someone once commented, “The trouble with some self-made men is that they worship their creator.” Giving to God is a tangible way of acknowledging that we are not self-made, that all we have comes from God.
Jesus told of a man who missed this truth to his own detriment.
And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.—Luke 12:16–21
Notice how many personal pronouns this wealthy farmer used—a total of twelve, just in verses 17–19. For all the mentions of himself, he omitted references not only to God’s provisions, but also to the hired servants or family who surely helped him plant, tend, and harvest this bountiful crop.
This farmer’s pride gave him a false security. He wrongly translated God’s prosperity into a misleading confidence in temporal wealth and abundance.
Because of our tendency to place our security in possessions, poverty is sometimes a greater blessing than prosperity. When we seek prosperity, we tend to lose our focus on Who has provided our blessings.
3. Giving Teaches Us to Live by Faith
Obedience to God’s plan for giving forces us to live by faith, for faith is displayed by obedience.
God made an incredible promise to the nation of Israel:
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.—Malachi 3:10
Although we are now living in the “church age” or the “age of grace,” it is my conviction that a Christian would not give less under grace than the Old Testament saint did under the law.
If there were no other reason to give, obedience would be a sufficient compelling factor. Yet God desires that we would not give out of obedience only, but also from hearts of love.
Truly, we can’t afford not to give.
In God’s economy, giving meets our needs, points us to our Provider, and teaches us to live by faith.
In God’s economy, we, the givers, are truly the recipients. When we give, God blesses us with far greater blessings than we yielded. And when we grow in the grace of giving, we discover the incredible joy of living on God’s economy!
[This post is adapted from the small book I wrote a few years ago, Living on God’s Economy. For more information, to order a copy, or to find discount pricing on buying in bulk for your church, visit strivingtogether.com.]