“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7
I can very easily give “mechanically,” or “grudgingly,” or out of “necessity.” However, God is looking for His people to give from their hearts and to do it cheerfully. I want to draw your attention to three examples of heart giving in the Scriptures. Each of these examples involved some godly women that ministered to their Lord (men, perhaps there’s a lesson in this for us!). In each instance their giving involved five aspects.
1. Each of Them Had Some Substance to Give
“There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment.” Matthew 26:7a
“And certain women…which ministered unto him of their substance.” Luke 8:2-3
“And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.” Luke 21:2
What substance can you give to the Lord? He has provided you with something to give back to Him, and it is more important that you give it out of a heart of gratitude to Him than it is that you give what men would call large gifts. It may be in the form of a monetary tithe; it may be a physical possession (a car, a ring); it may be a child that you would loan to the Lord, as Hannah did; it may be a certain talent that you would use for the Lord; it may be your faith promise offering for missions. Whatever it is, God has given it to you so you can give it back to Him (see 2 Corinthians 8:11-12).
2. Their Substance Was Precious to Them
The woman in Matthew chapter twenty-six gave very precious ointment. The women in Luke chapter eight gave of their substance, which quite possibly amounted to all they had. The poor widow in Luke chapter twenty-four gave everything she had. My pastor, Dr. Paul Chappell, has said: “If you give what you don’t need, it really isn’t giving.” Although these women put a high value on their gifts, they were of little value in comparison to what God had given them.
Isn’t it amazing the system we have of valuing things? One day my wife and I were on our way to a meeting at a church in San Diego. I will admit that I have a “lead foot,” but what passed us on the interstate that day made us feel as though we were sitting still at seventy-five miles per hour—an expensive, new, red Lamborghini and a new, bright yellow Lotus convertible! I immediately said to my wife, “Wouldn’t you like to test drive one of those cars for a day?” Then I immediately began to think of how much just one of those sports cars was worth and how many people could fit inside them.
Though I could never afford one, I did a little pricing research: the Lamborghini has a hefty price tag of $350,000-$475,000 and the Lotus was a very good deal at $75,000 (by the way, the Lamborghini was not that far ahead of that “cheap” Lotus).
Imagine what could be purchased with the value of those two sports cars—cars that can’t haul more than two people each to church. We could buy five brand new church buses, plus five brand new fifteen passenger vans to transport people to God’s house, plus have plenty left over for gas and insurance! Now I ask you, what is more valuable to the Lord—sports cars or the eternal souls of men and women?
In Windsor Castle in London, England sits the throne of the Queen of England. It is overlaid with gold and has inlaid jewels, but only one person is allowed to sit on it. What a waste! How does it compare to the seventy-two old wooden chairs that cost $1.70 each which some dear people in churches across America purchased for us so countless souls could sit in our church in Albania to hear the Gospel and be saved over the years? How could we put a value on the eternal souls that sat on those old wooden chairs? Do we value things the same way that God values things?
A pastor friend of mine once said, “You are wealthy if you possess what you value.” Well, my friend, I am wealthy because of the great gift I possess (2 Corinthians 8:9; 9:15). You can have this world, but I’ll take Jesus! What or whom do you value? God has His own value system, but oftentimes it is very different from ours. What do you have of value that you are willing to give to God, seeing that He has given His all for you?
3. They Gave Their Substance As unto the Lord
The woman in Matthew chapter twenty-six lavished her substance on the Lord. She gave her ointment (some commentators say it cost her as much as one year’s wages), her tears, her hair, her love, and her heart-felt affection. Oh, how this woman lavished her gifts on the Lord! The women in Luke chapter eight ministered unto Jesus of their substance. Perhaps they gave Him money, but they also could have given food, clothing, a bed, sandals, or many other things. Who can doubt their giving was unto their Lord?
We sometimes get hung up with the mechanics of our tithes and offerings and forget that we are giving them to the Lord. For example, if my gross income last week was $325.20, must my tithe be to the exact penny, $32.52, or could I give a little more? More than likely, all those women gave more than a tithe. No doubt, they were grace offerings given by grace givers.
Would to God that we could all get ahold of this grace giving concept (2 Corinthians 8:6-7)! Someone said, “Grace bestowed is always grace expressed.” So please consider: Who they gave to was of far more value to each of them than what they gave up. Who or what do we see ourselves giving to: the church, the pastor, the missionaries, or a certain project? We must constantly examine our hearts to see if our giving is really unto the Lord.
4. Their Giving Was from Their Hearts
“I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.” 2 Corinthians 8:8
Our giving is under the Lord’s microscope. Is it from the heart, or is it done grudgingly out of necessity? Recall the example of those women: how they gave was of far more importance to the Lord than the gift itself. Is there enough room in your heart for the grace of giving?
5. Their Giving Was Often Unnoticed, Overlooked, or Criticized by Men
Do you ever feel that your giving is unnoticed, overlooked, or criticized by others? Don’t worry, you’re in good company! As far as these women were concerned, as long as the Lord saw their giving, that was all that mattered to them.
The widow in Luke chapter twenty-one practiced unnoticed giving. Who in the temple that day noticed the giving of that poor widow woman? The Lord noticed it, and the Lord notices our giving today!
The women in Luke chapter eight practiced overlooked giving. Jesus, however, mentioned them all by name and knew what they shared with Him. The Lord notices even the small gifts of a little child.
The woman in Matthew chapter twenty-six practiced criticized giving. Men still criticize giving today, yet the Lord commends it. What this woman did is still being told as a memorial of her!
Does your giving pass the heart test? Will your giving be told as a memorial of you?