Summary: Paul's discussion of the benefits of Christian giving is discussed.
“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written,
‘He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever.’
He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.”
Disgruntled Donor Sues Church. That headline appeared some years back in the Houston Post. A member of a large Pentecostal congregation in the city had drawn the conclusion, based upon a sermon about or an interpretation of LUKE 6:38, that God had pledged to reward those who give to support the church. You remember the verse: “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” The disgruntled former congregant complained that she had donated over eight hundred dollars in a year to her church and had not received any benefit. Viewing giving as an investment, she expected at least a thirty-fold increase, and I would presume she hoped for a hundred-fold return [see MATTHEW 13:1-9, 18-23]. Therefore, she sued for the moneys she had given, plus lost income, plus unspecified pecuniary assessment by the courts. The case was ultimately settled out of court when the church returned the eight hundred dollars to the disappointed investor.
Does a Christian have a right to ask, “What’s in it for me if I give to support my church?” Though we may view the motives behind such a question as suspect, I would remind you that God has pledged to reveal Himself as generous toward those who are generous toward His work. Saying that, I do not want to lead you into false assumptions concerning God’s obligation toward us—God is not obligated to anyone. It is, however, an axiom of the Faith that the blessings of God are in proportion to the generosity which an individual demonstrates.
THE PRINCIPLE STATED — “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” In a previous message, we discovered that there is a law of sowing and reaping which applies to the issue of giving. This law is not a law of material promise; rather it is a law of spiritual proportions. No court can compel God to meet material expectations. Neither can any human parliament reduce the promise of God to mere formulae. Nevertheless, God is pledged to review the heart of His child, taking note of the spirit which motivates giving, and when that spirit reflects the heart of the Master, God will return in abundance His love and care for that soul.
We discovered in an earlier message that the principle of blessing based upon our own participation in the work of God is stated throughout the Word. For the purpose of refreshing our memories through review, recall some of those passages, especially from the Old Testament. You will remember no doubt the pointed passages from the PSALMS and PROVERBS:
“One gives freely, yet grows all the richer;
another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.
Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
and one who waters will himself be watered.
The people curse him who holds back grain,
but a blessing is on the head of him who sells it.”
“It is well with the man who deals generously and lends;
who conducts his affairs with justice.”
I have often stated (and the truth is confirmed in this proverb applied to human action)—attitudes precede action. In other words, attitudes are of greater importance then are actions. God reviews the intent of the heart—the desire which underlies deed, the purpose hidden in the mind of every person—to discover why one does what is done. It is never comfortable to attempt to deceive God, for in the effort one succeeds only in deceiving one’s own heart. Consequently, each time the Word of God is read and applied that heart is exposed to itself as deceitful and corrupt. Consequently, the deceiver grows increasingly uncomfortable in the presence of the Lord and until the heart repents the individual resents God and His Word. This is the insight of the author of the Hebrew letter when that unknown saint writes, ”The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” [HEBREWS 4:12-13]. It is the thoughts and the attitudes of the heart which are judged because actions follow attitude.