Giving Tuesday happened this week. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that the Lord led me to write about the blessing of giving to others. However, the five years I spent studying Proverbs had more impact than this new annual tradition of charitable giving. Every December, I was confronted, convicted, and encouraged by proverbs relating to finances. When I created that study, I thought it would be wise to focus on finances during a month when I habitually overspent my budget. But inflation and the stock market declines this year have the positive effect of restricting my expenses since I just don’t have anything “extra.” It’s also good to remember that we are blessed when we give from our lack and put aside things we might otherwise “get” to help others. God kept His people, the Israelites, in the wilderness to reveal himself and teach them how to honor, love, worship, and enjoy him. For our purpose, his instruction for helping those who had fallen into poverty is of particular interest. “If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be…You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.'” (Deuteronomy 15:7-8, 10-11) We, indeed, have the poor among us—we always have and always will have others who are less fortunate than those of us reading this devotion. For sixteen years, I was utterly dependent upon the generosity of my supporters to live, eat, work, use a phone, drive a car, have medical insurance and funds for treatment and travel—for everything. This made a significant impact on me, but many of them have told me what a blessing it was to participate in the work of God. Was their blessing greater than mine? Perhaps it was, as the Lord led them to obey his statutes. God commands his people to give to others cheerfully as he has given to them and blesses all who fulfill his decrees for helping the weak. As much as possible, I hope we will all enjoy the blessing of giving meaningfully to others this Christmas season rather than submit to the world’s tremendous pressure to purchase and consume things.
Giving Versus Receiving
At the end of Acts 20, we read Paul’s parting remarks to the church leaders in Ephesus. He spoke of the need to care for church members and his model of bold, risky preaching of the gospel. Paul also addressed his lifestyle as a preacher. “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” (Acts 20:35) Paul “recommends himself to them as an example of not caring as to things of the present world; this they would find helps forward their comfortable passage through it. It might seem a hard saying, therefore Paul adds to it a saying of their Master’s, which he would have them always remember; ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive:’ it seems they were words often used to his disciples. The opinion of the children of this world, is contrary to this; they are afraid of giving, unless in hope of getting. Clear gain, is with them the most blessed thing that can be; but Christ tells us what is more blessed, more excellent. It makes us more like to God, who gives to all, and receives from none; and to the Lord Jesus, who went about doing good. This mind was in Christ Jesus, may it be in us also…This saying from Jesus, [‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’] is not recorded in the Gospels–a reminder that Jesus did many things that are not recorded in Scripture (see John 21:25). [BUT] was no doubt passed on to Paul by those who heard Jesus teach.” (1) “It is more blessed to give than to receive: it is more comfortable, honourable, pleasant, and profitable: the giver is in a more comfortable situation, having an abundance, at least a sufficiency, and something to spare; whereas the receiver is often in want and distress, and so uncomfortable: it is an honour to give; an honour is reflected upon the giver, both by the receiver, and others…to distribute to the necessities of others…and great are the advantages and profit which a cheerful giver reaps, both in this world, and that to come.” (2)
For the Corinthian church, Paul taught, “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.'” (2 Corinthians 9:7-9) “God loves such joy-motivated giving to others because it expresses contentment in God’s gracious giving to the believer (see 2 Cor. 9:14) that makes every good work possible and results in thanksgiving and glory to God. The good work of God’s people corresponds to the description of the man in Ps. 112:9, whose righteousness is manifest in his providing for the poor. [‘He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever; his horn is exalted in honor.’].” (3) Earlier, Paul reminded the Corinthians of Christ’s sacrificial giving of his life. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9) There can be no question that God commands his people to give to others cheerfully as he has given to them and blesses all who fulfill his statutes for helping the weak. We glorify him by enjoying the blessing of giving meaningfully to others this Christmas rather than yielding to materialism.
Giving Without Losing
Giving Tuesday has come and gone, but the efforts of local and global companies selling products will outstrip the email and text requests we receive to give to charitable causes. However, I think it best to pray until I am sure which person, ministry, or organization is the one or those the Lord would have me support. We would be foolish to give only when our heartstrings are pulled since so many are in need, and we want to honor God with our gifts. But let us give. If we don’t have funds to give, we can give our time, talents, and service sacrificially. And, we can give our praises and witness for God boldly, as Paul did. I am sitting in a lab’s waiting room now, thankful for Gods help to have my doctor’s order faxed after a glitch in communication. The waiting room is full, but they have received the order. However, a minute after I returned to have my blood drawn, the power went out. Others waiting are enthusiastic to tell the staff to proceed in the dark and are critical that they aren’t allowed to draw blood without power. So I did my best to imitate Paul. “You know who is in control, don’t you? God’s in control of everything.” We have so many ways to give! “The righteous gives and does not hold back…Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor.” (Proverbs 21:26b; 22:9) “Our Father holds the purse-strings, and what we lose for His sake He can repay a thousand-fold. It is ours to obey His will, and we may rest assured that He will provide for us. Saints know that a grain of heart’s-ease is of more value than a ton of gold. He who wraps a threadbare coat about a good conscience has gained a spiritual wealth far more desirable than any he has lost. God’s smile and a dungeon are enough for a true heart…Let the worst come to the worst, let all the talents go, we have not lost our treasure, for that is above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God. Meanwhile, even now, the Lord makes the meek to inherit the earth, and no good thing doth He withhold from them that walk uprightly.” (4) By the way, not long after my comment, the waiting room emptied of all the nay-sayers, the power returned, and I had my blood drawn in time to get to my next thing. I was blessed, and he staff were very appreciate of my peace and faith in them. I was sure to let them know that is it Christ in me who is work.
Related Scripture: Exodus 25:1-2; Deuteronomy 15:1-18; Psalm 37:21; 112:9; Proverbs19:17; Luke 14:12-14; Romans 12:8; 2 Corinthians 8:12; Ephesians 4:28; 1 Thessalonians 5:14.
1. Henry, Matthew, Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Bible, Acts 20:32-35, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mhn/acts-20.html
2. Gill, John, John Gill’s Exposition on the Whole Bible, Acts 20:35, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/geb/acts-20.html
3. English Standard Version Study Bible Notes, 2 Corinthians 9:7-9, (digital edition), Crossway, 2008.
4. Spurgeon, Charles, Morning and Evening Devotions, 2 Chronicles 25:9, November 30, Barbour Books, 2018.
December 1, 2022