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GIVING

     True Biblical giving from the heart to the Lord.  The Lord himself illustrates this kind of giving.  "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16)."  God displayed His love toward us by giving Jesus to die on the cross for our sins.  Nowhere do we ever find in Scriptures that we must give anything in order to be saved.  Salvation is given by God and received by us through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).

"Herein is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins."  I John 4:10.

     Giving, therefore is a way of physically demonstrating our love to the Lord.  It is "The proof of your love" according to II Corinthians 8:24.  Also, it is a way "to prove the sincerity of your love" as II Corinthians 8:8 tells us.

     Under the Old Testament law the believer was obligated to practice the giving of tithes.  In the New Testament we are not under the law (see Colossians 2:14-17), but under grace.  The people under the Old Testament laws of tithing gave about 22-25% of their income.  The first tithe was 10% of everything that the people produced from the land and of animals (Leviticus 27:30-33).  There was a second tithe in Deuteronomy 12:6-7, and a third one in Deuteronomy 14:28.  The first was called the Levites tithe, the second was called the festival tithe, and the third was called the poor tithe.  The first tithe was 10% of their gross income, the second tithe was 10% of the remaining 90% (or 9%).  The third tithe was 10% of the remaining 90%, once every three years (or 3%).  Ten, nine, and three percent totals to 22%.  In addition to that, there was profit sharing on the corners of the fields (Leviticus 19:19), a temple tax (Nehemiah 10:33), and the Sabbath land rest (Exodus 23:11), when you couldn't grow any crops every seventh year.

     New Testament giving is grace giving.  Someone once asked, "Should we give less under grace that we should give under law?"  The example for grace giving is Jesus Christ, who "though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich (II Corinthians 8:9)."  Notice that Jesus gave everything.  He gave His life.  We should also first give our lives for Christ's service.  "But, first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God."

     Willingness, not law, is the key to grace giving.  "If there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that man hath, and not according to that he hath not (II Corinthians 8:12)."  Also, "Every man as he purposeth in his own heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity, for God loveth a cheerful giver (II Corinthians 9:7)."

There are several things we can learn from the following passage, which sums up New Testament giving.

"Upon the first day of the week, let everyone of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come."  I Corinthians 16:2.

1. "Upon first day of the week."  Scriptures do not say much about what Christians should or should not do on Sunday, except that they should assemble with believers in worship (Hebrews 10:25), and do their giving (I Corinthians 16:2).  Giving should be on a regular basis.  God set aside each Sunday as that day.

2. "Let every one of you."  Every believer is to give.  Although having nothing to do with salvation, giving is something every Christian should do.

3. "As proportionate to how much God prospers you."

4. "Lay by him in store."  A percentage should be set aside from your income first, before you pay your other bills.  Then this money should not be used for any purpose except to give to the Lord.  "Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase (Proverbs 3:9)."  Firstfruits speak of the first percentage of your earnings, and not what is left over.  God doesn't need our money, but God wants to use us so that He might reward and bless us.  Have you prayed about your giving lately?

     It is the giver that is blessed by the Lord for his giving.  "It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35)."  Jesus said in Luke 6:38, "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure pressed down, and shaken together, and running over shall give into your bosom."  Your blessing is related to how much you give.  "But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully (II Corinthians 9:6)."  A farmer who plants a small crop cannot expect a large harvest.  If you only give a little, then you can only expect a little in return.  If you give a lot, then you can expect a greater return.

     The amount you give, a little or much, is based upon how much you have to give.  According to I Corinthians 16:2, giving is to be "as God has prospered you".  If you have little, then little will be required of you.  If you have much then much will be required of you.  In the story of the widow's mite, she is said to have given more than the rich men who cast large sums of money into the treasury.  She gave all that she had.  She gave 100% whereas the rich men only gave a small percentage.  (Read Luke 21:1-4).

     God asks us to prove Him as to giving to see if He will bless us abundantly as a result.  "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)."  Have you ever thought about testing God in giving.  God wants to bless you and to pour out a blessing you will not be able to contain  (Malachi 3:10).  Why not take God at His Word and give?

     Our giving to see that souls are won to the Lord and that fruit is gathered with eternal life (John 4:36) will mean fruit (souls) will be added to our account in heaven.  "Not because I desire a gift; but I desire fruit that may abound to your account (Philippians 4:17)."  Souls won to the Lord indirectly through your giving will be added to your account in heaven.  Isn't that great!


THE PERSON WHO DOESN'T GIVE CHEATS HIMSELF OF HEAVEN'S BLESSINGS.

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