There are many scriptures in the Bible where God encourages us to give. More to the point the Bible speaks of giving a tithe or a 10th of our income. In addition, the Bible talks about giving which is in addition to the tithe.
But consider this. Have you ever wondered why God asks you to give? Why is it important? Is there a benefit that comes from giving?
Because money is evil?
Many people attribute the phrase money is the root of all evil to the Bible, so perhaps we are to give because it is not good to be wealthy. Well, actually, the scripture says the love of money is the root of all evil. That is very different than suggesting money is evil. In fact God does use wealthy folks in the Bible. Abraham was very wealthy. King Solomon’s wealth was legendary. In the New Testament, Joseph of Arimathea provided the tomb that Jesus was buried in. The fact that he owned the tomb is an indication that he was wealthy. God also uses the poor many times to do his work as well. Jesus himself had very little in the way of worldly possessions. So having money or not having it isn’t really the issue.
It is true though that having wealth can be dangerous because we can begin to trust our wealth to provide security instead of God. By giving, we show that we are not placing our trust in our wealth. That is important, but I don’t believe it’s why God asks us to give.
God needs our money?
Maybe it’s because God needs our money. There is much good that needs to be done. God needs our money to care for those who are less fortunate.
This one is kind of funny really. God owns everything. We don’t give 10% back to God. He lets us use 90% of what He has given us. If God really, “needed” our money He could just take it. He is God after all. The Bible says that He owns the cattle on a thousand hills and, as personal finance guru, Larry Burkett, used to say, He owns the hills too.
Giving is a very tangible way of acknowledging that it all belongs to God, but that isn’t the most important reason God asks us to give.
The church needs our money?
Ok if God doesn’t need our money then maybe the church needs our money. It is true that the church depends on the tithes and offerings that come from its members to do the work that God has given it. However, we have just talked about how God owns everything. If God has a mission for the church, He is capable of making sure the needed funds are provided. He has generally chosen to make that provision through the gifts of His followers, but that isn’t the main reason God asks us to give.
A character issue.
So why does God ask us to give? Having grown up in the church, I’ve probably heard more sermons than I could count on giving. Many great messages. Some not so great.
The best explanation though that I have ever heard on why God asks us to give came from Dave Ramsey.
Dave tells the story of getting up early one morning to read his Bible and spend some time in prayer. Just as he was getting into the Bible reading his then 5-year-old son came walking down the steps. He told his son that it was way too early and he needed to go back to bed for a while, but his son begged him to be allowed to sit on his lap for a while. Dave says that he started reading his Bible again and he was overcome with emotion. His son asked if he had done something wrong and Dave said he told him no but the scripture he was reading had never really struck him quite that way until just then. That scripture was:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
Dave said that sitting there holding his own son, those words “God gave his one and only Son” hit him in a way that it never had before.
The real reason that God wants us to give is because He is a giver. It’s one of His core attributes.
When we accept Christ we don’t become like Him the moment that we make our confession. It is a process. Much of the Christian life consists of letting go of ourselves and taking on the character of Christ.
Each time we give, a little bit more of our selfish nature is chipped away and we take on a little more of Christ’s character. That is why God wants us to give. Through giving He can shape us into the person that He created us to be.
Learning to give cheerfully
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7
As God molds our character into the character of Christ, a natural by product of that will be a desire to give. As a giving spirit takes root within us, I think we learn to become the cheerful giver that He desires. As our character begins to be shaped into the character of Christ, we will find that giving is a joyful experience because God takes great joy in the gifts that He gives us.
The only way that we can learn this joy of giving though is by doing it. This is the real reason that God calls us to give. Not because He needs our money, but because He is molding us into the kind of person that He created us to be.