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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « John Piper on the Current Economic Downturn | Main | God's Discriminating Love (Q&A) »

    Christian Giving

    Click here to download a PDF of the following.

    Christian Giving Is Worship

    God made us, sustains us, and lavishes us with good gifts. He loves us and gave his only Son for us. Our response of praise can and should be expressed through giving. The supreme reason to give away our money and possessions—the motive that permeates all other motives—is to worship God. Like a precious cut gem gleaming in the sunlight, every facet of Christian giving should reflect the glory of God's grace. The immediate beneficiaries of Christian giving are earthly, but the One who receives honor from each gift is in Heaven. It is nothing to hoard, to indulge, to beautify ourselves. It is divine to lay down all that we are and all that we have as a tribute at the feet of the King of kings.

    Christian Giving Is Faith

    Christian giving honors God because it is a tangible expression of complete dependence on him. God owns all things, and has pledged his support to those who follow him. His own beloved Son is the guarantee of his goodwill. The one who trusts that God will supply his every need has no fear of becoming generous. In giving away what the world says he needs to survive, he confesses that the source of his security is a good Father in Heaven. In giving away what so easily rules his heart, he renounces the god Mammon, and swears allegiance to the Lord and Giver of life.

    Christian Giving Is Love

    God gives to some people much more than they need, while he allows others to suffer want. Does he grant wealth solely for the consumption of the rich? No. He means for those who have to give to those who have not. He gives to you so that you can give to others. In doing this, Christians participate in God's merciful love, which we ourselves have received freely and undeservedly in Christ. "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich." If you can see yourself in the poor—if you can see Jesus there!—then let your love be genuine. Work hard to meet their needs.

    Christian Giving Is Mission

    Jesus was on a mission: to expend his life restoring the world to glorious peace with God. One Day, finally, in his Kingdom there will be complete wholeness and happiness for God's people in his presence forever. Until that Day, Christians are to adopt their King's mission in this world. This means we don't just give to missions, but that Christian giving, in and of itself, is the mission to which we are called: to give all that we have for the sake of the Gospel. Jesus Christ gives life to the dead, both spiritually and physically; Christians can imitate him, however humbly, by giving of themselves to the spiritual and physical welfare of others.

    Christian Giving Is Sacrifice

    Judas sacrificed Jesus for money. Christians sacrifice money and possessions to Christ. A genuine sacrifice is a good, desirable thing being surrendered to God's glory; giving up what is evil is simply obedience. For such an offering to honor God, it must be costly; it has to hurt to lay it on the altar, otherwise the glory of God is not exalted above the preciousness of the gift. The Lamb of God willingly climbed up on the altar, sacrificing his holy life on the cross for us. What would our love to him be if we did not respond in kind? Christian giving is relinquishing that which is dear to us to him who is dearest.

    Christian Giving Is Secret

    Secrecy reveals who you really are, whether you live unto God when no one else knows to applaud or despise. The one who draws attention to his giving is a hypocrite, selfishly seeking acclaim for his ostensible selflessness. The one who loves God, who cherishes his approbation alone, gives in secret. He does not sabotage himself by allowing others to confuse his motives with their esteem. Rather, he starves his fleshly appetite for recognition, and feeds his spirit with promises of heavenly reward that are assured to him in Christ. His is a quiet gift from his soul to God, which God does not forget.

    Christian Giving Is Joy

    Christian giving is like a release valve on a life bursting with unstoppable happiness. If your faith is in God, and in the One he sent to ransom you from your sins, then you are welcome to glorious love and everlasting joy in the communion of the Holy Trinity. Nothing can rob you of this. Not poverty or persecution. Not demons or death. So do not let fear of losing happiness paralyze your generosity. Give in order to share life and joy with the weak. You will only increase your participation with the Redeemer in his jubilant triumph over the effects of sin in this world. Besides, God loves a cheerful giver!

    Posted by Eric Costa on January 19, 2009 04:41 PM

    Comments

    Eric,

    Good article. I agree. What do you say to those who argue a very strict interpretation of the Regulative Principle and deny that the offering ought to be part of the worship service (since we cannot point to a Scriptural command to take up an offering in worship)?

    Seems to me that giving, as described above, is part our normal response to God's grace and mercy. The Heidelberg Catechism describes this as gratitude.

    I guess that I don't see why we would deny this corporate expression to God's grace. In my church we receive the offering after the sermon. As it is brought forward the congregation sings the Doxology. Then it is dedicated to God's glory with prayer. It is a high point in our service as the body of believers responds in unison to God's good gifts.

    Your thoughts?

    Dave, thanks for your comments. I agree, the offering is an important part of the worship service. I've personally not come across Regulative Principle folks who deny that, but in case someone did, I would refer to 1 Cor. 16:2, which says, "On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come."

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