Concerning the children of Israel, we read that in their giving they brought “much more than enough for the service of the work, which the Lord commanded to make” (Ex 36.5), so Moses had to restrain the people from bringing, “For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work … and too much” (v 7). May we imitate the example of God’s ancient people in the grace of giving and, in doing so, fulfil Paul’s injunction: “he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity [liberality]” (Rom 12.8). Thus we will prove that “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20.35).
It is not how much we give, but rather what it costs us to give, that pleases the Lord. What precious encouragement is given to the poorest of the saints in these words by Paul; “it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not” (2 Cor 8.12). As our Lord sat over against the treasury, He saw “the rich men casting their gifts” therein. He also saw “a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites” (Lk 21.1-2), and what did He say of such an one?
Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: for all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had (vv 3-4).
Dear fellow saint, your gifts may be very small because of your poverty, but to Him by whom “actions are weighed” (1 Sam 2.3), they are of the highest value. In a coming day, He will show His deep appreciation of the gifts, because of what you had to deny yourself in order that you might be able to give.
Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings [collections] when I come (1 Cor 16.1-2).
This was evidently a special collection for poor saints, and was to be taken up on “the first day of the week” when the saints were gathered together. The responsibility of each brother and sister to give is individual, suggested by the words “let every one of you”. Each saint should feel his or her responsibility to give, and not to leave the burden upon a few. Then we have systematic giving suggested by the words “lay by him in store”. The Lord’s portion should be systematically laid away from our weekly earnings, and this implies an exercise before Him as to the amount given, before we come together. We also have proportionate giving clearly implied in the words “as God hath prospered him”. With many it is simply a question of giving a stated amount each week; nothing more, nothing less, even though the Lord may have prospered them one week more than another. Our giving should be commensurate with our earnings; otherwise it falls short of the divine command as given by Paul.
In 1 Timothy 5, two kinds of widows are brought before us. There are widows who have “children or nephews [grandchildren]” (v 4), and there are widows who “are widows indeed” (v 3), and are “desolate” (v 5), having no relatives to support them. The “children” of the former are charged to “show piety at home” (v 4) and requite their mother or their grandmother, as the case might be, so that “the church be [not] charged” (v 16). Concerning the latter, the saints are exhorted to “honour” such an one, because she “continueth in supplications and prayers night and day” (v 5), that God may supply her temporal needs. From this we learn that some have a special claim upon the saints, so that their need might be met, while others really have no claim whatever. Discretion is therefore needed, to discriminate as to who should, and who should not, be supported. Even in giving to those who devote their entire time to preaching or teaching, wisdom is needed in the right distribution for the work of the Lord. The men who go from assembly to assembly (and often the largest assemblies) do not have the same need, perhaps, as the pioneer preacher who is in a remote place. The latter should be particularly remembered, especially if he is a married man having a wife and children to support, so there is need, we repeat, to use the Lord’s money in a careful and judicious way.
Results of Giving
We read “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully” (2 Cor 9.6). Again we read “Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine” (Prov 3.9). Our Lord tells us “If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?” (Lk 16.11-12). Paul exhorted “Charge them that are rich in this world … that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life” (1 Tim 6.17-19).
May we rise, beloved fellow saints, to our responsibility – yea rather, to our holy privilege, of giving what in truth God has given us, and thus prove that He will be no man’s debtor.
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it (Mal 3.10).