THEY WILL KNOW
By Jeannette Haley
“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
Whether we like to admit it or not, we are always being watched—watched by the world, watched by friends, family, the church and, most importantly, the LORD Himself. Therefore, if “all men” are to know that we are Jesus’ disciples, one way to demonstrate that love is by giving to others as the Lord puts on our hearts, or when we have opportunity. As 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, not with an unhappy, miserly attitude, or because it makes us look good, or it’s something that we are “expected to do” but out of a grateful heart overflowing with God’s love and compassion. After all, giving is to be done as “unto the Lord.”
We also learn from the above Scripture that giving begins in the heart, and then it is to be put into action. There are times when deep emotional responses to the needs of others may temporarily stir us up, but without a heart commitment to give what the Lord may impress upon us to give results in a sour attitude, and is disobedience whether we give or not. Consider the last part of this verse, “for God loveth a cheerful giver.” Someone may say, “Well, God loves me whether I give or not.” That takes us back to the bottom-line fact that if a person is truly born again and a legitimate (adopted) child of the Father, then he or she will naturally delight in loving others, giving to others, and walking in obedience to the Lord.
One reason God “loves a cheerful giver” is because the heart is upright, and the only way to have an upright heart is to possess a new heart. Ezekiel 36:26 says, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” Therefore, if a person calls themself a Christian, yet is lacking in benevolence, one has to question by their “fruit” if they are truly saved.
Consider what the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy on this matter in 2 Timothy 1:5, “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.” Consider the powerful impact the words, “end of the commandment” had on the Jewish mind of that day, and the impact is also has on legalists today! The “end” means the goal or the purpose of the Ten Commandments of God. No one can perfectly keep the Ten Commandments outwardly, but inwardly they can be fulfilled through love out of a pure heart, a good conscience and unfeigned faith. Romans 13:10 tells us, “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” The Apostle John wrote, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” 1 John 3:18. It takes a lot more than “talk” to “walk the walk.”
About 30 years ago, the popular pastor of a fast-growing church in western Washington personally confided to us that the reason his church was so blessed was because of his policy of giving to widows, the fatherless and the poor. He said he knew this was what God required, and was a firm believer in maintaining this practice in his church lest he lose the blessings of God. When the offering plates were passed out among the congregation, he urged the poor among the people who had pressing personal needs to please take what they needed out of the offering plate as it passed by. I don’t know if anyone actually ever did that, but it was shocking to hear such a statement made from a pastor. In fact, we have never witnessed this type of obedience to the LORD in any church since that time. James 1:27, as with all Scriptures, still stands: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”
Some have asked us if struggling Christian single women, or those who are divorced qualify as widows, and the answer is they can be. King David’s concubines were considered to be widows in 2 Samuel 20:3. Isaiah 1:17 says, “Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.” (See Jeremiah 22:3). The Apostle Paul also made it clear that those who labor in the Gospel are worthy to be supported in their labor. 1 Thessalonians 4:12 13 says, “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.” In Galatians 6:9, 10 we read, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, “In all of my years of service to my Lord, I have discovered a truth that has never failed and has never been compromised. That truth is that it is beyond the realm of possibilities that one has the ability to out give God. Even if I give the whole of my worth to Him, He will find a way to give back to me much more than I gave.”
What a contrast these Scriptures (and many others concerning the heart of God when it comes to money) are to the frantic quest of organized churches and the scripturally ignorant among them for money, money and more money in order to build bigger buildings, or “monuments to man,” as some rightly call them. The plight of the poor, yet faithful, among them is ignored, overlooked and often dismissed as “unimportant” in the scramble to keep up with the latest “seeker friendly” model, the best and greatest “entertainment plots, props and platforms,” and the latest and loudest sound system available. And, woe be to anyone who dares not pay “tithes” to support this man-centered “show” that “must go on” or who asks just where in the Bible Jesus or the disciples set out to build buildings, or make big money, or compromise with the world’s way of doing things in order to appear “successful.” The love of God is not to be found in any of it; instead, pride, self-glorification, greed, and idolatry abounds along with the indictments of Christ against most of the seven churches in Asia. (See Revelation 1-3.)
We so desperately need to get back to the Bible, believe it, learn biblical principles, and then trust and obey. We need to step out of the complicated, defeating, oppressive man-made and often demonically-inspired, religious web of fear, guilt, and confusion. Jesus tells us, “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” Matthew 18:3. Jesus is saying that we must be converted (changed) to the ways of righteousness with the pure, simple faith of a little child if we are to enter the kingdom of heaven. The way is narrow, yet simple.
The Apostle Paul declared in 1 Corinthians 2:2, “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” And, in Galatians 6:14 he said, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” The question is, what has all this to do with how we should give? Much! —because in all of the “much ado about nothing” (nothing of God, and everything about man) in Christendom today the simplicity of giving based on God’s will, His Word and His example through His Son, Jesus Christ, is all but lost. Jesus didn’t come to build a “business,” complete with CEO’s, and clever marketing agents that know how to squeeze “blood out of a turnip” in order to fund their grandiose plans and agendas. “…he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity…” Romans 12:8b.
The Apostle Peter explained, “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” 2 Peter 2:5. What are “spiritual sacrifices” that are “acceptable to God”? They are prayers, praises, our will, bodies, time, talents and sacrificial giving as the Holy Spirit leads. This can include financially struggling members of one’s own family, friends, neighbors, or anyone the Holy Spirit prompts you to give to. He may put it on your heart to give to missionaries, front-line workers, or help fund Bible distribution to poor countries, as well as donate to people suffering from natural disasters. Keeping it pure and simple from a heart of love, as well as acting under the direction of the Holy Spirit, should alleviate any guilt associated with not always “giving” because it is expected of you. Giving should never be based on man’s traditions and culture; rather, giving must be according to Spirit and Truth. After all, giving is a form of worship.
Our Lord said, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give unto your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again” Luke 6:38.
God gave us His very best. “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. 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” 1 John 3:16, 17?
The bottom line is, we need to examine our priorities when it comes to giving. What comes first, keeping the “dead letter” religious church systems of the world in business, or giving to the poor and needy around us for whom Christ died? May the Lord turn those whose priorities are upside down right-side up, give us a spirit of repentance, and then send down the holy fire of revival!