Summary: God expects believers to give in support of his kingdom work, but we must examine our motives for doing so.
Investing in God’s Program
A. Most significant event of the late 19th century.
1. Urban and city growth (immigrants and those from rural areas began to pour in).
2. Better education, culture could be enjoyed (theaters, museums, art galleries).
3. An exciting time but it brought many problems to the city.
4. Transportation was inadequate and so were health problems.
5. Slums began to develop and crime was on the rampage.
6. Churches responded with a giving spirit.
7. Social gospel gained momentum and people were concerned about the poor.
8. Provided food and homes for the indigent.
9. D. L. Moody founded mission schools.
10. YMCA and YWCA made religion a wholesome recreation along with study classes and musicals.
11. Salvation Army was begun by William Booth, a Methodist minister who wanted to reach the poor by open-air evangelism and social work.
B. Jesus now speaks of a giving spirit that his people should possess.
1. Some say a giving spirit just naturally comes for our innate goodness.
2. It is only a by-product of our relationship with Christ.
3. People are naturally stingy (just look at two young kids playing together).
C. Not to say that unbelievers do not give.
1. Their giving is infrequent and almost always motivated by desire for praise.
2. Before Christ, homes for orphans, sick and poor were nonexistent.
3. World of toil, poverty and slavery.
4. Great poverty lived side by side with great affluence.
D. Situation after Christ was different.
1. His sacrificial love and that of his followers began to make an impact.
2. Hospitals, care for the poor, reform laws for women, labor laws, slavery has been abolished for the most part.
E. Strong concern for charity in Judaism.
1. Giving of alms but this was mostly a duty and external thing.
2. After Christ, the motives for giving began to change.
3. Giving would now come from a divine love.
GIVING MUST COME FROM A SURRENDERED LIFE
A. A lot of giving is hypocritical.
1. Just as a lot of religion is hypocritical.
2. We can give because of a guilty conscience (we have more than someone else and we might feel guilty over the way we got what we have).
3. We give because we want to make an impression on someone or a group of people (announce that so and so gave so much to this cause).
4. Give a lot at the last of the year so we won’t have to pay taxes.
5. Much giving is simply a pretense or show.
B. Cain is an early example.
1. Cain and Abel both brought offerings to God.
2. Abel’s was accepted but Cain’s was not.
3. Abel brought fat portions from the firstborn of his flock.
4. Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil.
5. Cain gave with the wrong attitude.
6. When his hypocrisy was made known, he killed Abel.
C. The example of Ananias and Sapphira.
1. Sold some property and brought the proceeds to the apostles.
2. Ananias held back some of the proceeds but told the apostles he had brought it all.
3. He didn’t have to bring it all, but he lied and said he did.
4. Sapphira went along with the lie and both died.
D. Jesus warns against giving just to show off.
1. This giving does not come from a heart surrendered to God.
2. It magnifies the person and not God.
3. The only reward is praise from others.
4. Hypocrite was originally a Greek actor who wore a mask to portray a role.
5. Term came to refer to someone who pretended to be something they were not.
E. The example of the Philippian Christians.
1. First gave because they loved Paul, their father in the faith.
2. When he went to Thessalonica, they sent messengers to see how he was doing.
3. Took up a collection for his financial needs.
4. Did it a second time and throughout his lifetime.
5. When church council gathered at Jerusalem, they asked Paul to ask the Gentiles for money.
6. Christians at Philippi competed for the chance to help the Jews.
7. “And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will.” (II Corinthians 8:5)
F. Seven principles to help us give in such a way.
1. Giving from the heart is investing in God’s work.
2. Our giving is to be sacrificial.
3. The responsibility of giving has no connection with how much a person has.
4. Spiritual blessings come from material giving.
5. Giving is to be determined by each individual.
6. Give in response to the needs we are aware of.
7. Such giving demonstrates love in the truest sense.