Giving God's Way
God constantly gives us gifts. However, He never expects us to keep them in storage. As God gives to us of His bounty, we are in turn to bless others (Matthew 10:8). We receive of His love to give love to others. We are partakers so that we can be imparters.
"We are in danger of quitting too soon and of settling for too little"
In fact we get to keep all that we give away. In Luke’s gospel Jesus said, “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38, NIV). Paul quotes Jesus as saying there is greater blessing in giving than in receiving (Acts 20:35, NIV).
There is no doubt, even for the casual observer, that we are enjoying a wonderful season of extravagant blessing. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit continues to be punctuated by testimonies of amazing redemptive transformation. Souls are rescued from sin, bodies healed, and relationships are set right. We marvel at the power of the blood of Jesus to bring salvation.
However, we are in danger of quitting too soon and of settling for too little if we fail to express our complete gratitude for the blessing of God. Our thanks is the only original gift we can give God. Everything else we give first came from Him. Praise is powerful because it is freely given from hearts touched by His grace. Without gratitude, there is no praise. Without praise, there is no worship. Without worship, there is no intimate relationship with God.
"God not only gave amazing opportunities but also incredible answers to prayer"
Our thanksgiving however, must include more than words and songs of praise. Unless we give as freely as we have received (Matthew 10:8, NIV), our thanks is incomplete. Other necessary expressions of our complete gratitude for the grace of God are sharing with the poor, feeding the hungry, caring for prisoners, encouraging the hopeless, and winning the lost. These acts are actually easy because this move of God releases in us a joyful generosity. Sacrificial giving motivated by a “get to give” not a “got to give” attitude arises as we are touched by the limitless bounty of God’s grace and as we begin to understand ourselves to be privileged agents entrusted with giving away the blessings of God.
Recently this happened with some young men. After God had given them disturbing visions of hungry children living in an inner city housing project, they felt compelled to do something. They pooled their meager financial resources, bought all the food they could and went door to door in the project known for violence and oppression. As they fed the children and offered to pray with people, God not only gave amazing opportunities but also incredible answers to prayer. Now they return every week to continue with their ministry of compassion and to conduct Bible studies to mentor the young Christian force emerging there.
God is again calling us to Himself for a relationship and to the world for divine purpose as He did with Abraham. He is blessing us so that we might bless others.
Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthian church should resound in our hearts: “See that you excel in this grace of giving” (1 Cor 8:7, NIV). Anything less is less than God’s will for us. The same dynamic that moved the early disciples' post-Pentecost, to sell everything and lay it at the apostles’ feet is increasingly evident as God moves in these days.
God is love and He is a giver of good gifts. Are we ever more like God than when we love and give like Him? Where is the renewal taking us, or more important, where are we taking the renewal? Is our praise complete unless we take our blessings and extend real help to those in need? How can we continue to receive unless we are willing to be radical agents in extending the graces of God to others? Jesus declared, “By their fruit you will recognize them. (Mt 7:20 NIV)”