The Attitude of Giving
Tim Temple

Introduction

One subject that preachers are famous for talking about, but which many sincere ones hate to talk about, is money. We really shouldn't feel that way because it is a subject that is very much a part of Scripture; so even though there has been a lot of poor teaching about money in our day, we are entering this series of study without apology. In our last lesson we talked about the whole general concept of stewardship and investing our resources, not just for this life, but for the rest of life, in Heaven and beyond the grave. Today we are continuing our study by thinking about the underlying attitude that the Scriptures teach about money. In our next study we will be talking about the principles of giving that the Bible teaches. Then in the last study in the series we will be talking about a special kind of giving, the faith promise , that God sometimes calls on us to make.

As we talk about this underlying attitude for giving, we are going to do so from three standpoints: the meaning of giving, the merit of giving, and the method of giving. The basic underlying passage from which we will see these things is one that is not usually associated with money and giving, but that is the starting point for any discussion of those topics. Notice I John, chapter 3, verses 10-23:

I John 3:

10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
12 Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.
13 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.
14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
17 But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.
20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.
21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.
22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.

The Meaning of Giving

As I said a few moments ago, the first thing we want to talk about today is the meaning of giving. Even a cursory reading of this passage will show that it is an obvious reference to material things. Look at verse 17, for example:

I John 3:

17 But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

The underlying principle relates to the giving of all things, an attitude of giving in every area of life—spiritual, emotional and material. Look at verse 16:

I John 3:

16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

This verse cites the best possible example of giving, the Lord Jesus Himself. How do we know that God loves us? “By this we know love…” What was the chief characteristic of the Cross? Philippians, chapter 2, verses 4-8, answers that question. Notice as we read:

Philippians 2:

4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

The key to understanding this passage is verse 5. “Let this mind be in you…” That phrase is there to illustrate the meaning of the statement just before it in verse 4. The chief characteristic of the Cross was that Jesus didn't focus on His needs and desires (His own interests) but on our needs and desires (our interests). Many times we are so busy seeing to it that we have our rights and our needs met that we can't think about the needs of others. The Apostle Paul is a perfect example of this. Look at Philippians, chapter 3, verse 8:

Philippians 3:

8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

There had been a time when he had focused solely on his beliefs and practices, his attempts to earn his own righteousness, but when He came to understand what Christ had been willing to do for Him, his whole focus changed and he became a “giver” of grace to others. So that is the meaning of giving—stretching far beyond the giving of money.

The Merit of Giving

We also need to think carefully about the merit of giving. What is so important about having this attitude? First, our text in I John, chapter 3, verse 17, points out that it is a manifestation of spirituality. Notice this verse again:

I John 3:

17 But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

A Manifestation of Spirituality

Many people think that the manifestations of spirituality are long prayer times, deep Bible knowledge, etc., and that they will never attain these. Those things are important and not to be overlooked, but Scripture gives a much more obvious sign, one that we don't often think of, and that is how we respond to the needs of others. The last line of verse 17 says, “How does the love of God abide in the person who is able to meet a need and yet won't do it?”

A Manifestation of Salvation

Another merit of giving is that it is a manifestation of salvation. Look at verse 19:

I John 3:

19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.

If you are absolutely unmoved by the spiritual, emotional, physical or financial needs of the people around you, you have reason to question whether or not you are even saved. Again, this goes against the grain of our traditional definitions of spirituality, but it is what the Bible says.

The Method of Giving

There is a third aspect of giving that should be discussed, and that is the method of giving. When we talk about giving, we assume that we are talking about giving money, or at the very least used clothing or canned goods, but let's think about that for a moment. First, it should be pointed out that giving is directly related to receiving. Look at verse 22 again:

Giving Directly Related to Receiving

I John 3:

22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.

If you will glance just above that verse to verses 17-18, you will see that they are some of the most “giving” verses in the Scripture. Yet, they are found right in the context of receiving things from God, and this is true throughout Scripture in regard to all aspects of life, not just money.

Being a Spiritual Blessing to Others

II Corinthians, chapter 1, verses 3-4, applies it to being a spiritual blessing to others.

II Corinthians 9:

7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
8 And 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:

We plan to look at these verses in more detail in our next studies, but for now, notice again the correlation between giving in verse 7 and receiving in verse 8. These verses basically say that if you will trust Him to do so, God will “give you the grace of giving,” enable you to give to the things He leads you to give to.

Various Helping Situations

The principle of giving flowing out of receiving also applies to our being available to other believers in all kinds of situations. Look at Matthew, chapter 7, verses 11-12:

Matthew 7:

11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

Verse 12 is what we commonly call The Golden Rule , and you can see that it is not “he who has the gold rules.” This is a very important rule. In fact, many claim it as their only religion, but notice that it comes in the context of giving and receiving (verse 11).

You see, what this law of receiving/giving means is that the important thing in any situation is not how rich you are or how talented you are or what a good host or hostess you are, but whether or not you stay under the stream of God's grace. Remember what II Corinthians, chapter 9, verse 8, says:

II Corinthians 9:

8 And 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:

Conclusion

I hope you see that the subject of giving is so much broader than just money. It encompasses every area of life, and it includes several important principles. First, there are some cases where money won't help. God may want you to give time or attention or prayer. Second, even if money is needed, He may not want you to give it. He may plan to supply it through somebody else and want you to pray for them. Third, whatever it is that He wants you to give, He can supply you with whatever it is you are supposed to give; but to receive it we have to “stay under the stream of His grace,” or like the old song says it, “Stay under the spout where the blessings pour out.”


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