Biblical Principles of Giving
The apostle Paul clearly sets forth the biblical principles of giving in 2 Corinthians 9:6–11.
Our motive in giving is important.
“So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
The word for cheerful in this verse could also be translated “hilarious.” We should give hilariously, joyfully, not out of mere duty or guilt. As Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
As we give, God will give to us.
“God is able to make it up to you by giving you everything you need and more, so that there will not only be enough for your own needs, but plenty left over to give joyfully to others. God . . . will give you more seed to plant and will make it grow so that you give away more and more fruit from your harvest” (2 Corinthians 9:8,10 TLB).
God promises that if we have the right attitude and are generous, He will bless us. In reality, if our financial condition is bad, it could be because, in a sense, we have reaped what we have sown (we’ve sown little, we’ve reaped little).
“With what confidence can we ask the Lord for more substance if we have not honored Him with the substance we’ve already been given? What we withhold, withers, but what we scatter, gathers. What we lay aside spoils, but what we release, returns. If we fulfill another’s needs, God will fill our needs!” —J.H. Pickford
“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).
“Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the first fruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine” (Proverbs 3:9–10).
“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
Let us not misunderstand this great truth. Some people think that they can ask or claim anything their greedy little hearts may desire. Philippians 4:19 does not say that God will supply all your “greeds” or even your “wants” or “desires.” That is because God knows that for some, too much materially could hurt them spiritually.
A writer of proverbs insightfully describes the relationship of our material status to our walk with the Lord: “Give me neither poverty nor riches, feed me with the food you prescribed for me, lest I deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of the Lord” (Proverbs 30:8–9).
Our giving should be sacrificial.
The context of this familiar promise of God supplying our need in Philippians is significant. At the time Paul penned those words, the Philippian believers had just helped Paul in his hour of need. They believed that love should not just be in word, but also in deed. So, they had given Paul a financially sacrificial gift. As a result, they had a need. Their need was not created by bad stewardship or an unwillingness to work, nor by extravagance or foolish spending. Instead, it came from a heartfelt desire to assist a fellow brother in Christ in his work for the Lord.
Because their hearts were right, Paul assured them—and all believers—that God would indeed supply their needs. God would not be their debtor.
Some may say, “I can’t afford to give!” In reality, you can’t afford not to give. David said that he would not give to the Lord that which cost him nothing (2 Samuel 24:24).
Our giving should be generous.
Generosity is not measured by the size of the gift itself, but by its size in comparison to what is possessed.
The widow who gave two mites to the temple treasury gave more than the many rich people who gave large sums because, as Jesus said, “They put in out of their surplus, but one, out of her poverty, put in all she owned” (Mark 12:44).
Some might say, “If I had a million dollars, I would give more to the Lord.” But that is not necessarily true. It is all relative. The person who has a million could easily say, “If I just had ten million. . .”
Are you being faithful with what God has given you?
The question God would have for us is this: What are you doing with what I have given to you? Are you being faithful with that?
God promises to meet our needs, but that does not mean that we can strike a bargain with God, in which as we give to God, He must give back to us in a multiplied way. That would be giving to get. God will not honor that type of giving because it comes from an impure motive.
Instead, we should give because God has so graciously and generously given to us. As Christians, we have received the gift of forgiveness and the hope of eternal life. Others may have also received the healing of a marriage or the mending of a home. And you have received it from the Lord free of charge. We should give because we have received.