Responding to God in Giving
Tim Temple

Introduction

We want to continue with our studies concerning responding to God. For a number of weeks we have talked about the things that God has revealed to us about Himself—the various attributes of God, the things that He has given us in His Word that we can know about Him. We have been looking at some of the things Scripture says about ways that we can respond to God. Today we are going to conclude that series of studies by looking at what the Scripture has to say about responding to God in giving .

As you might guess, I have saved this particular topic for the end of the series. It is always awkward for preachers to talk about money, but you would not know that from the amount of times preachers spend talking about money. It is an awkward thing, but it shouldn't be, because it is an integral part of our relationship with the Lord.

I hope you will think carefully about what we have to say about what the Scripture tells us is one of the ways that we respond to God. It is nothing more than that, but it is nothing less than that. A part of responding to God is what we do with the money that He has given us. We respond to Him in giving the same way that we respond to Him in these other ways.

An Evidence of Spirituality

One of the most important evidences of true spirituality is something that is not often discussed in sermons or books about Christian living. We tend to think of spirituality in terms of deep Bible knowledge or lengthy times of prayer or being prominent in serving the Lord. This is not only unbiblical, but it can be a very discouraging thing to the average believer, who for various reasons might never achieve those various things.

Often believers conclude that they will never be all that they could be spiritually because they can't get up in front of people and teach or they don't have the time to spend lengthy time in prayer, or they don't have a deep Bible knowledge.

That is a misconception, because as we have talked about a number of times as we have been looking at what the Scripture says about responding to God, God holds us accountable for what we can do. God doesn't hold us accountable for what we can't do. God doesn't hold us accountable for more knowledge than He has given us the ability and the time to acquire. He doesn't hold us accountable for more prayer than He gives us the time to spend in prayer. However, He does expect us to do those things that He has given us the opportunity and the ability to do.

There is nothing wrong with deep Bible knowledge and lengthy times of prayer and prominence in the Lord's work. Those things are legitimate, and they have their important places in God's work, but our love for God is proved by being faithful to the things that He has given us the ability and the time to do.

One of the things that He has given everyone of us the ability and the opportunity to do, to one extent or the other, is the use of our money, the handling of our financial resources. In fact, I think there is a sense in which this matter of giving to God and handling the money that God has given us is, in a way, a more genuine indication of our spirituality than any of the others, because there is a sense in which all of those others can be faked.

We can give people the impression that we know a lot about the Bible whether we do or not. We can claim that we spend large amounts of time in prayer whether we really do or not. I hope that nobody would want to fake those things, but it would be possible to do it. But the use of our possessions shows us up for what we really are. You have all heard the old expression, “Put your money where your mouth is,” and there is a sense in which that is exactly what God does for us, and that is exactly what God tells us to do. God tells us in various places in His Word, “If you love Me, put your money where your mouth is.”

One of the ways that you can indicate your spirituality is in the way that you handle the money God has given you. In fact, I am convinced that this is one of the major reasons that God has created a monetary system in the first place. God could have created a society in which money didn't have a part. Some of us wish that He had, probably, but one of the reasons that He has created a monetary system, I am convinced, is to give us a way of demonstrating our response to Him. We are going to see before we are through that it is one of the most important ways in which we can respond to God.

Many Christians don't give much thought to the matter of giving to the Lord. To them it is simply a matter of giving God His ten percent and then getting on with the business of life in everything that is left over. Being faithful in tithing is the greatest extent to which a lot of Christians, maybe even the majority of Christians, think about the matter of giving. But actually, the Scripture gives us a much broader picture of the handling of our money. It is a picture that can be characterized as stewardship. In fact, that is the way that the Bible refers to it in most instances, and we need to look at as much of it as we can in this study.

I want us to think about three things. First, we are going to think about the source of our possessions. Then we are going to talk about the stewardship of possessions, and last, we want to say a little bit about the secret behind the stewardship of our possessions.

The Source of Our Possessions

Let's think about the source of our possessions to get the overall background of this matter of stewardship. The first thing that we need to be reminded of, and I think really it is just a reminder for most, if not all of us, is the fact that everything that we have comes from God in the first place. The source of all of our possessions is God's provision and God's blessing upon us. James, chapter 1, verse 17 says:

James 1

17Every 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.

Matthew, chapter 6, verse 28-30, says:

Matthew 6

28And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
29And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
30Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Everything that we have comes from God. Of course, when we say those kinds of things, immediately people tend to think, “I don't know about that. I have worked hard for everything that I have.” That is true, and that is commendable. That is part of the American system that we are blessed to live under, but on the other hand, where did you get that physical ability to work hard? Where did you get that mental ability to learn and to do the things that you do? Where did you get the intellectual capacity to go to whatever level of education that you attained to be able to get into the business that you are in? At one level or another, everything we have comes from God. God honors our hard work, and God honors our diligence in attaining an education, but everything that we have comes from God ultimately.

The Concept of Stewardship

Not only does God give us everything that we have, but I Corinthians, chapter 6, verses 19-20, tell us that we are His possession:

I Corinthians 6

19What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
20For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

God created us; then, after we fell into sin, He later bought us with His own sacrifice. So you see, we are doubly His. He has given us possessions, but at the same time, we are His possession. The concept of the Christian and his possessions is the concept of stewardship. You see, the picture that the Bible presents to us is that we are simply managers of God's estate. God has entrusted to each one of us, as a wealthy land owner might, some things to manage for Him.

Jesus told several parables about that very thing in describing our relationship to God. He has put us in a place of management of His assets. The New Testament uses the term stewardship to refer to that kind of management of God's assets.

Since the steward is not as common a household word as it was in Jesus' day, I want us to look at an example of it in Luke, chapter 16. I want you to see the kind of job that the steward had in the day in which Jesus lived and the day in which the New Testament was written. Luke, chapter 16, beginning in verse 1:

Luke 16

1And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.
2And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.
3Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.
4I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.
5So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord?
6And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.
7Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore.
8And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.

Our purpose in looking at this passage is not to talk about the lessons of the unjust steward. Jesus was not telling this story to say that it is all right to be dishonest. What He was telling His disciples was that we need to think as carefully, as we administer God's estate, as sometimes crooked human people think carefully—not that we should be crooked, but that we should think carefully. That is the basic lesson of that parable.

Duties of the Steward

The reason that I have chosen this one out of the various ones that Jesus gave about stewardship is that it touches on the kinds of things a steward does and the kind of power that a steward has. The steward was a man in that generation who handled the master's business affairs. You can see from the way that the steward called in the master's debts that he had full control over the master's business affairs. He was about to lose that control, but while he still had the position, he was able to call people and allow them to change their bill. He had all kinds of power over the financial affairs of his master.

The interesting thing is, that I Peter, chapter 4, verse 10, refers to you and me as believers in Jesus Christ as stewards of the manifold grace of God. You can see from this passage the kinds of things the steward did, the kind of power that he had. Look at I Peter, chapter 4, verse 10:

I Peter 4

10As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

This verse tells us, and Jesus makes the application in these various parables that He told about stewards, that we are stewards of all of the various aspects of God's grace that He showered us with. We have the power under God's authority to use the various aspects of His grace that He has poured out upon us.

The steward was always charged with making a profit for the master. The steward that was able to continue was the steward that was able to make money for the master. God, of course, doesn't need us to make money for Him. He already owns everything there is, but He expects us to be good stewards, to be wise stewards, to multiply that which He has given to us. He expects us to make investments that will pay off in eternity for Him. That is the true concept of stewardship.

The Stewardship of Our Possessions

That leads us to the next thing we want to consider in this study, and that is the stewardship of our possessions. So that you understand what a steward is and the concept of what stewardship is, let's think about the stewardship of our possessions. If we are to be stewards of the possessions, the talents, the abilities, and the grace that God has given to us, how do we go about that? What does God expect of us in that regard?

The Scripture reveals several different aspects of that. First, there is the fact that giving is listed as one of the spiritual gifts in Romans, chapter 12, verse 8. God gives some Christians the ability to give to His work. God especially equips some believers to do that. As with all spiritual gifts, every Christian is expected to give to God's work. The various spiritual gifts that God gives are things that in other places He tells every Christian we should do.

Evangelism is something that God has told all of us we should seek to do, but He gives some people a special ability to evangelize. Teaching is something that He tells us in one way or other all of us should do, even if it is just on the level with our children and our family. He gives some people the special ability to teach and God gives people the ability to give to His work. In most cases that gift seems to be accompanied by a gift for making money also. I know people who believe themselves that they have the gift of giving, who do not have large incomes and are not wealthy people. So it is not limited to the rich.

You should be careful that you understand the gift of giving is not limited necessarily to the wealthy, although many times God does let those two things go together. However, we are not talking specifically about the gift of giving; we are talking about the truth that God expects all of us to be stewards of His possessions; and whether you have that spiritual gift or not, God expects us to do it. That doesn't mean that we should leave all of the giving to those that have the spiritual gift of giving. We should respond as best we can when we are faced with a need of some kind.

The Grace of Giving

There is also what is known as the grace of giving, described in II Corinthians, chapter 9, verse 8:

II Corinthians 9

8And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

I am trying to show you a broad spectrum of what the Scripture has to say about this matter of giving to the Lord's work. This verse is the promise that underlies grace giving in general. It says that if we give when God leads us to, even if it is in a situation where we may not feel that we have the money to spare, if God is leading us to give to something and we sense that God really wants us to give to that thing and we give to that in spite of the fact that we may not feel like we have the money to do it, God promises to enable us to meet our other needs as well.

Don't misunderstand this verse. It has been misused, I think, by preachers mainly, trying to get money for their own causes. This is not saying that if you spend the grocery money on an appeal that some preacher makes that God is going to give you more grocery money. But it does say that if you spend the grocery money on something that you are convinced God is leading you to do and you have a clear indication in your heart that God wants you to do this, then God will enable you to do all of the other things that you need to do as well, because what you are doing is being a steward.

Stewardship involves following God's leading and principles and being the manager of God's estate. There probably will be very few times when God leads you to give money that you do not really have or money that you don't think is available to give to that particular thing. But if a situation like that ever arises and you follow God's leading about giving, God has promised to meet your other needs as well.

Second Corinthians, chapter 9, verse 8, is kind of a special occasion verse, but it is a very definite principle of God's Word, because God doesn't want us to look at stewardship as something that is just a cut and dried addition and subtraction thing. It is a matter of administering His estate.

Routine Giving

Thirdly, most of the Scripture speaks of what we might call routine giving. Most of the instruction that is in the Bible about the matter of giving is a matter of that week by week and month by month giving that God expects us to do. The basic passage underlying that kind of giving is I Corinthians, chapter 16, verse 2. It is a very simple verse, and yet it is one that is full of instruction:

I Corinthians 16

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

Even though there are some other verses that talk about giving, this one seems to me to be the basic, underlying verse of Scripture. The background of this verse was the fact that there had been a famine in Jerusalem and there were many Christians in Jerusalem, some of whom had been the very first Christians, who were now starving and were in real financial need. The Apostle Paul, who was primarily minister to the Gentiles, went around, wrote to people that he had ministered to; and he said, “I am going to be coming through your area, and I am going to be taking up an offering for those believers in Jerusalem who are in real financial need. I want you to be getting ready to give this offering.”

In the process of writing those letters, most of the instruction that we have about giving was written. This verse was in this same category. That is why it says in the last line of verse 2 that there be no collections when he came.

A Public Responsibility

The first thing that I want us to notice about that verse is what I call a public responsibility. It is something that all Christians should do. Look at the middle of verse 2:

I Corinthians 16

2…let every one of you lay by him in store…

It is something that every Christian is instructed to do. Every one of us are stewards of God's possessions. No matter how much money we make or how little we have, we are stewards of God's possessions. It is a public responsibility.

Proportionate to Prosperity

Then a second principle is that it is to be proportionate. Notice the phrase in verse 2: “Lay somthing aside as he may prosper. Storing up as he may prosper.” Our giving is to be on the basis of how God has prospered us. It is a proportionate responsibility. Giving is to be based, simply, on what God has given us. When prosperity comes, as it has for many Christians in our generation, one of the first considerations should be, when we get a raise or when we get a bonus or when we get a new client, when we get more money, how much more to give, not necessarily how much more to buy.

Our first thought, usually, when we have an increase in our income, is, “Boy! Now I will be able to buy this or that.” God says, “When you get an increase, one of the first things you should think about is how much more I will be able to give now.” Certainly He expects us to spend money on ourselves. It is perfectly all right, as we seek God's guidance, to spend money on ourselves, but we need to also include this matter of giving to the Lord's work and purposes, because it is to be as “God has prospered us.”

Something that I want to introduce at this point, that most of you already know, is that there is no fixed rate of giving in the New Testament. In the Old Testament, there was a standard rate of giving, but in the New Testament, the principle is “as God has prospered us.” It may be ten percent, which is what most people think the tithe is. It may be eight percent. It may be twelve percent. It may be fifty percent. There are Christians who understand the principles of New Testament giving who give ninety percent of their income to the Lord's work. But the principle is not based on a percentage; it is based on prosperity—as God has prospered you. If God has only given you a little bit, He only expects you to give to Him a little bit. He does expect you to do that. It says, “Let every one of you lay something aside,” but He doesn't necessarily expect you to give as big a percentage of your prosperity as someone else is giving. It is to be between you and the Lord, and it is to be in proportion to what He has prospered us with.

A Personal Decision

Another verse that speaks of this is II Corinthians, chapter 9, verse 7, and it says the same thing, but he states it in a different way:

II Corinthians 9

7Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give…

Do you know what? God expects you to decide how much you give. God does not expect me as the pastor of this church to even suggest to you how much you should give. God does not want the stewardship committee, in those churches which have that kind of committee, (Thank God we do not have such a committee at this church.) to decide what you should give. It is a personal responsibility that you are to purpose in your heart.

The idea is of deciding what has top priority in your finances. As I said before, God expects us to spend money on ourselves and our families. He says, “He who cares not for his own house is worse than an infidel.” God expects us to spend money on ourselves; it is part of being a good steward, but He also expects us to invest some of it in His work. It is not whether or not this giving that God may lead us to do will fit the budget; it is not a matter of what it will do to the tax picture; it is just a matter of deciding what God wants me to do with this money.

A Personal Responsibility

The third principle that we take from I Corinthians, chapter 16, verse 2, is that it is to be in private deposit. I take that from the way that the verse is worded. It says there in verse 2, “Let everyone of you lay something aside, storing it up as he may prosper.”

This may seem like a minor point, and perhaps it is, but to be faithful to the Scripture, we have to notice this. The verb “lay aside,” is structured in the Greek in such a way that it could be translated “lay aside to yourself,” or “lay by him in store.” In other words what this is saying is, “Not that we bring our offerings to the church, but that we have an account of our own.” It might even be a separate bank account or savings account, maybe just something that you keep track of in your head or in your checkbook, but what it is saying is that we are to have a part of our money that we know in advance that we are going to use for the Lord's work. Lay it aside, and lay it aside to yourself.

It implies a system of some kind, and it definitely rules out what some segments of Christianity refer to as “storehouse tithing.” There are churches, there are whole denominations, who say that you are to bring all of your offerings to the church. You are not to give to radio programs or TV programs or missionary projects. You are to bring it all to the church. It is called storehouse tithing. It is totally an Old Testament concept. It is not part of the New Testament at all, even though there are many churches who operate on that principle today.

That is not a New Testament principle. God said, “You lay this money aside yourself. You are responsible for this money. You don't bring it to the church for them to decide where it is to go. Obviously you are going to give some money to the church. That is why we take an offering every Sunday. God tells us to do that. One of your first priorities ought to be to support your church, but you are responsible for that money. You do not just turn it over to the church and let them decide what they are going to do with it.

You are to decide what the priorities are in giving. We could have a whole series of studies on giving. The first priority should be the local church, because this is the age of the church. God has designed the church to be the primary means of meeting our spiritual needs, but you should also include other ministries that God may lead you to give. Your first priorities should be ministries that are a blessing to you and that aid you in your spiritual life, but there should also be giving to some organizations, some ministries that are helping other people in other places where you may not be able to go—missionaries, for example. The basic point is that God expects you to administer that money. Lay it aside yourself. Have this amount of money that you are going to give, and you and your family decide where you are going to give that money. You don't just bring it to the church and let them administer it.

Periodic Giving

A fourth and final principle for giving is that it is to be periodic. This is suggested by the phrase in I Corinthians, chapter 16, verse 2:

I Corinthians 16

2Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store…

The basic instruction from this point is that giving should be done on a regular basis, perhaps at the first of the month or on payday. Some Bible scholars have said that in the New Testament world in which Paul wrote I Corinthians, everybody was paid on the first day of the week. The Christians began meeting on the first day of the week, and so what he was saying here on the first day of the week didn't necessarily mean that you were to give every Sunday at church, but it just meant give on payday. I think God expects that any time we get any income, we are to administer part of it to that fund for which He has told us to lay aside. Anytime we get any income we should think about laying aside some of it for the Lord's work.

I don't want to make too much of a deal about this, but it should not be overlooked that the verse does specify the first day of the week. In fact, this is something that I have been impressed with as I have studied this passage this time. I have studied this passage many times, but as I have studied this time around, I have decided that we shouldn't overlook the fact that it does say the first day of the week.

The New Testament doesn't say much about what believers should do and should not do on Sunday, but this is one of the things that it does specify about the first day of the week. The only other specific thing that is said about what to do on Sunday is in Hebrews, chapter 10, verse 25, which says that we should assemble together for church. It is significant to me that only those two things are specified. God allows us to make our own decisions about what we are going to do with Sunday. In the Old Testament the Sabbath was the Lord's day, and they were not to do any kind of work, but in the New Testament, He tells us these two things. We are to lay our money aside and assemble ourselves together.

Let me just throw this out. It is not becoming the law of Abilene Bible Church at this point, but it is a suggestion, and that is, I believe that there may be some blessing in at least writing the checks for the things that you are going to give to the Lord's work on Sunday, maybe taking the time sometime during the day on Sunday.

One person wrote a magazine article about the fact that he and his family got together each Sunday afternoon for a whole year and decided where they were going to do their giving, and they found a great blessing in doing this as a part of their Sunday activities. That is something to think about, to at least do some of that dispensing of money on Sunday. Certainly one of the places that we are to give our money is giving on Sunday when we come to church. It is significant that it is tied in with the Lord's day.

At this point somebody might say, “Why go to all that trouble and decision making? Why not just take the tithe out of the paycheck and put that in the offering plate on Sunday, and let it be done with?” That is the way that many, many, Christians—probably most Christians—do. The answer to that question is why that I have stressed this matter of stewardship. God does not tell us to operate that way with our money. God does not want it to be a cut and dried, mechanical kind of thing. God wants us to think about what we do with our money.

Old Testament Tithing

You might be interested to know, too, that tithing is not a New Testament principle. The word tithe is found in the New Testament only eight times. In the Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—it is describing what the Pharisees were doing in obeying the Old Testament law.

It is referred to in Hebrews, chapter 7, verses 5-9. Here it talks about tithing, and it is talking about the giving that was done by Abraham. There is not a single place in the New Testament that says, “Thou shalt give a tithe.” It is an Old Testament concept, and is not mentioned in the New Testament except as illustrations of an Old Testament concept.

There is no mention of it in what we call the Church Epistles , the letters that were written telling us what to do in our church activities. In the epistles there is no reference at all to tithing. There are a lot of references to giving, but not to tithing.

A standard argument in favor of tithing in this day in which we live is that tithing was done before the Old Testament law was written down. Abraham paid tithes in the Old Testament before the law was given hundreds of years later to Moses. Many people say, “Well, that means that since tithing was done before the law, we should continue to do it after the law.”

That sounds like a good argument at first. You would never expect to hear a preacher preaching against tithing, would you? I need to be very careful, but I want to say a few things about this, because this may be a totally new idea to some of you. God is not saying to forget about giving. We have already spent most of the morning talking about how important giving is in God's sight. Tithing would be a good idea on the basis of the fact that it was done before the Law, except for the fact that we do have some guidance in the New Testament for giving. If the New Testament didn't say anything about giving, we would assume that it was done even before the Law, and we should still be doing it in the New Testament. But the New Testament does give us some instructions about giving, only it doesn't ever talk about tithing.

Another interesting thing to think about is that the Sabbath was also observed in the Old Testament before the giving of the Law. I have never heard any Christian say that we should keep the Sabbath because it was kept before the giving of the Law. That is the standard teaching about tithing, but nobody ever says that about keeping the Sabbath.

We have clear instruction in the New Testament that on the Lord's day, on the first day of the week, we are to do our giving, that we are to assemble ourselves together, and it is obvious in the New Testament that the Sabbath along with the rest of the Old Testament laws are no longer binding. The principle is still there. We are to have a time when we gather together and remember the Lord, but the specific observance is not there. So tithing is something that was an Old Testament concept, cut and dried, and didn't take any thought. You just sliced up that part out of your income and gave it to God and the rest was yours.

In the New Testament, the Lord doesn't want us to live that way. He wants us to be stewards. He wants us to be priests. He wants us to think about what we do with the things that He has given us.

Incidentally, if you insist on tithing, you need to understand that it is not just ten percent. If you have been tithing and you have been giving ten percent and you want to continue tithing, you need to know that you are going to have to give more than ten percent.

First, the ten percent was to be given directly to the priest. An annual tithe of ten percent was to be given for the support of the priest (Leviticus 27:30-33). This is the part that everybody forgets. In addition to that, there was another tenth that was to be given to be set aside and consumed in a sacred meal in Jerusalem (Deuteronomy 12). Those that were able to were to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and spend ten percent of their annual income on a feast. What a feast that must have been for some of those folks! If they couldn't make the trip they were to send the money. Then every third year there was a third tithe of ten percent that was to be given to the poor and the homeless. If you average all of those together on an annual basis, people were giving about twenty-two percent. So, if you insist on tithing you will want to designate ten percent of it for the preacher. You also need to give another ten percent for food, and another ten percent every three years. So you see, ten percent is not tithing. If you insist on tithing, you need to think on much bigger terms.

The Secret of Stewardship

Turn with me to II Corinthians, chapter 8. The reason that we are going to look at these verses is to talk about the secret behind stewardship. Let's read I Corinthians, chapter 8, beginning with verse 1:

II Corinthians 8

1Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;
2How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.
3For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;
4Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.
5And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.

The Christians in Macedonia were very poor. They were in poverty, but they wanted to give to this offering that Paul was taking. They were anxious to give to that, and they gave so much that they had to actually beg Paul to take it. He probably tried to refuse because he knew they were poor, but they gave this huge offering, and they had to beg him to take it.

How were they able to do that? Many times we feel that we are impoverished, and we are just not able to give, and yet these people who were in that situation gave so much that even the Apostle Paul himself wanted to refuse. They had to beg him to take it. How did they do that?

The answer is in verse 5. “They first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.” Here is the basic underlying principle of all giving, of all stewardship. It brings us full circle to where we began—responding to God. Stewardship is a matter of realizing that not only does everything that we have belong to God, but that we belong to Him too. Stewardship involves giving ourselves to God, allowing Him to be Lord of our lives, allowing all of our decisions to be made on the basis of His standards and His principles and His instructions, because you see, the basic principle of giving involves giving yourself to the Lord before you ever give a dime of money to anything.

Conclusion

That is why I have included this in these series of studies on responding to God. If God has your heart, if God has your submission, He won't have any trouble getting you to give your money where He wants you to give it. It is a matter of that personal, daily, ongoing relationship of submission to God, even in this area.

As I said earlier, most preachers are reluctant to talk about giving and fund-raising, and congregations are reluctant to have them talk about it, but giving should not be something that we are embarrassed to talk about. If done properly, it won't have to be talked about all of the time. For the believer who understands the principle of stewardship, it will come naturally. It will be a natural way of responding to God.


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