“I have showed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, it is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)
Today’s message from the Sermon on the Mount is about an area of worship that many Christians would rather forget. If you are accustomed to listening to Christian radio or watching Christian programming on television, you are constantly hit with a recurring theme—sow your seeds! Plant your money! Send in your offerings! With each of these pleas, there is a promise of reward, and usually the reward is your guaranteed prosperity.
We have heard these messages so often that many people are convinced that Christianity is all about religious hucksters that are trying to make a fast buck. There is certainly prosperity in their preaching, only it is their prosperity not yours! The prosperity gospel is a terrible bane; it is blight on the true gospel of Christ that causes people to focus entirely on the wrong reasons for giving. Giving is not for the purpose of getting—it is for the purpose of worship. Giving is one of the centers of worship described in Matthew 6:1-18. Giving is how we worship God in relation to others. There is certainly a return promised for giving, but the value of the return is entirely dependent upon the spirit in which the gift is given.
If your purpose for giving is because someone told you that you could add to your rich storehouse of personal possessions and pleasures, then you have been duped with a false reward. God never intended that we should use anything that He gives for mere personal consumption. The richness of our treasures in Christ is primarily for the purpose of doing God’s work and blessing others with our resources. When God abundantly blesses us, He intends that we should abundantly bless others. As we do so, He keeps cycling more blessings our way which in turn are to be recycled their way.
The scriptures do not teach that you must live in poverty in order to worship God. Some are guilty of going the opposite way and they take vows of poverty because they believe this is a more virtuous life than living with much material goods. It sounds good, but for God’s work it is self defeating. If all Christians took vows of poverty, very little would be accomplished around the world for Christ. The poor must be fed; the sick must be treated; the gospel must be preached everywhere. Missionaries, pastors, churches—none of them can operate without money. God intends that we should be industrious and we should do our best to work hard and make money. What is the purpose? It is that we may worship God by doing His work. Withholding the increase and refusing to give is refusal to worship God in one of His vital centers of religious activity. Consider your gifts and give to the glory of God.
Pastor V. Mark Smith