In a "what have you done for me lately" type of society this title alone likely ruffles some feathers. Why is that? Religion is great at this. Give to gain, do to earn. Yup, religion in a nutshell! Is that what we are saying here? Nope, not in the slightest. On surface level, sure it may yield similar results- I give of myself in my finances. I give of myself with my God-given talents. I give of myself in my service to the Lord.
I want to focus on "the why" after you read some Scripture below. Yes, we see in Scripture God calling all believers to give of their finances, talents, and overall service to the Lord. This is what this value is driving us towards. I want to end with a deep understanding of "the why" because I'm not looking to deepen religion. I'm prayerful this will flow from one place: relationship.
Where do we see this in scripture?
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. ~Acts 2:42-47
32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. 36 thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, 37 sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet. ~Acts 4:32-37
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administiring, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts. ~1 Corinthians 12:21-31
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. ~Ephesians 4:11-16
7 "Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, 'Come at once and recline at the table'? 8 Will he not rather say to him, 'Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink'? 9 Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'" ~Luke 17:7-10
Other passages: Psalm 41, Galatians 6, Proverbs 19,22, 2 Corinthians 8-9, 1 Timothy 6
What should this mean to us as followers of Jesus?
A question to ask yourself: Does the giving of my time, treasures, and talents show the love for God and people?
You can say no. In fact, we all have room to say no. You could become the poster child of perfection in all these areas, but we have to dig deeper. For the follower of Jesus this is about motivation! Life is too short to beat around the bush. There will be people who gave financially, used their talents, and served religiously who will spend eternity in Hell. So, what is the why? The why is a "response to" instead of a "hope to." You can give, serve, etc. hoping to receive whatever you are hoping to receive from our Savior. Again, religion. I'll do all those same things, but my why is different. My why? I love because He first loved me (1 John 4:19.) Colossians 2:6-7 says, "6 Therefore, as you recevied Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving." As I am abounding in gratitude for all Christ has done for me, I'm not forced to do anything. I do all the same things religious people do as a response to all God has done for me in Christ Jesus. With gratitude, I give God the first portion of all my finances. With gratitude, I use my talents for Jesus. With gratitude, I serve my Jesus. Those truly grateful for all that has been done for us in Christ, this doesn't ruffle feathers. This is simply a great opportunity to express gratitude in action. I don't want to be a church person who consumes the church, I want to be consumed by God expressing my gratitude for Him whenever possible!
Let me illustrate it this way. Are you dating? Bring your girlfriend some roses and after she thanks you say "Ya, I had to." That surely won't get you any smoochy face. Bring your husband a morning cup of coffee and after he thanks you, say "Ya, I had to." That won't lead to a morning cuddle session. Get what I'm throwing down? Bring your girlfriend flowers saying, "I was just in the car and thinking about how meaningful you are to me, I wanted to stop and get you a small token." Y'all will be kissing within a moment. A relationship cultivating deep love will always drive heartfelt actions.
Got any helpful resources?
Yup, check it:
Books: Unsaved Christian, How to be Rich, Total Money Makeover, What's So Spiritual About Your Gifts?
RightNow Media Series: Lead Like a Shepherd in the Workplace, If Money Talked, Faith, Work and Money, Spiritual Simplicity
Websites: Financial Peace, Dave Ramsey, Spiritual Gifts Survey
What is one practical step I can do this week?
Examine. Look at your calendar from the last month. Did you give of yourself? Look at your bank account on your banking app. Did you give of yourself? Think about your God-given talents. Did you give of yourself in those areas? Does this paragraph bother you? Examine your heart; are you looking at this from a religious perspective or a relational perspective?