* Giving is what our attitude should be
The Bible does not say why God did not accept Cain’s sacrifice. Perhaps Cain’s attitude was improper, or perhaps his offering was not up to God’s standards. Proverbs 21:27 says, “God loathes the sacrifice of an evil person, especially when it is brought with ulterior motives.” God evaluates both our motives and the quality of what we offer him. When we give to God and others, we should have a joyful heart because of what we are able to give. We should not worry about how much we are giving up, for all things are God’s in the first place. Instead, we should joyfully give to God our best in time, money, possessions, and talents. (NLT)
Genesis 4:3-5 – At harvest-time Cain brought to the Lord a gift of his farm produce, while Abel brought several choice lambs from the best of his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his offering, but he did not accept Cain and his offering. This made Cain very angry and dejected.
* Commitment to God and generous giving are closely related
Those whose hearts were stirred gave willingly to the Tent of Meeting (also called the Tabernacle). With great enthusiasm they gave because they knew how important their giving was to the completion of God’s house. Airline pilots and computer operators can push test buttons to see if their equipment is functioning properly, God has a quick test button he can push to see the level of our commitment–our pocketbooks. Generous people aren’t necessarily faithful to God. But faithful people are always generous. (NLT)
* Cheerful giving vs. reluctant giving
God did not require these special offerings but he appealed to people with generous hearts. Only those who were willing to give were invited to participate. God loves people who give cheerfully. Our giving should be from love and generosity, not from a guilty conscience. (NLT)
Exodus 35:5-21 – Everyone is invited to bring these offerings to the Lord: gold, silver, and bronze; blue, purple, and scarlet yarn; fine linen; goat hair for cloth; tanned ram skins and fine goatskin leather; acacia wood; olive oil for the lamps; spices for the anointing oil and the fragrant incense; onyx stones, and other stones to be set in the ephod and the chest piece.
“Come, all of you who are gifted craftsmen. Construct everything that the Lord has commanded: the entire Tabernacle, including the sacred tent and its coverings, the clasps, frames, crossbars, posts, and bases; the Ark and its poles; the Ark’s cover–the place of atonement; the inner curtain to enclose the Ark in the Most Holy Place; the table, its carrying poles, and all of its utensils; the Bread of the Presence; the lamp stand and its accessories; the lamp cups and the oil for lighting; the incense altar and its carrying poles; the anointing oil and fragrant incense; the curtain for the entrance of the Tabernacle; the altar of burnt offering; the bronze grating of the altar and its carrying poles and utensils; the large washbasin with its pedestal; the curtains for the walls of the courtyard; the posts and their bases; the curtain for the entrance to the courtyard; the tent pegs of the Tabernacle and courtyard and their cords; the beautifully stitched clothing for the priests to wear while ministering in the Holy Place; the sacred garments for Aaron and his sons to wear while officiating as priests.”
So all the people left Moses and went to their tents to prepare their gifts. If their hearts were stirred and they desired to do so, they brought to the Lord their offerings of materials for the Tabernacle and its furnishings and for the holy garments. Both men and women came; all whose hearts were willing.
* – Many of the principles regarding sacrifices and tithes were intended to encourage inward attitudes as well as outward actions. If a person gives grudgingly, he shows that he has a stingy heart. God wants us to be cheerful givers, who give with gratitude to him. (NLT)
Leviticus 27:33 – The tenth animal must not be selected on the basis of whether it is good or bad and no substitutions will be allowed. If any exchange is in fact made, then both original animal and the substituted one will be considered holy and cannot be redeemed.
* – War plunder rightfully belonged to the victorious army. These soldiers, however, gave their portion of all the plunder to the house of the Lord to express their dedication to God. Like these commanders, we should think of what we can give, rather than what we are obligated to give. Is your giving a matter of rejoicing rather than duty? Give as a response of joy and love for God. (NLT)
1 Chronicles 26:27 – These men had dedicated some of the plunder they had gained in battle to maintain the house of the Lord.
* – David gave from his personal fortune to the Temple. He encouraged others to follow his example, and they willingly did. Both the Tabernacle and the Temple were built from the voluntary gifts of the people. Like David, we can acknowledge that all we have comes from God. We may not have David’s wealth, but we can develop his willingness to give. It is not what we have that counts with God, but our willingness to give it. (NLT)
1 Chronicles 29:3-5 – And now because of my devotion to the Temple of my God, I am giving all of my own private treasures of gold and silver to help in the construction. This is in addition to the building materials I have already collected for his holy Temple. I am donating more than 112 tons of gold from Ophir and over 262 tons of refined silver to be used for overlaying the walls of the buildings and for the other gold and silver work to be done by the craftsmen. Now then, who will follow my example? Who is willing to give offerings to the Lord today?”
* – The people of Antioch were motivated to give generously because they cared about the needs of others. This is the “cheerful” giving that the Bible commands. Reluctant giving reflects a lack of concern for people. Focus your concern on the needy, and you will be motivated to give. (NLT)
Acts 11:29 – So the believers in Antioch decided to send relief to the brothers and sisters in Judea, everyone giving as much as they could.
* Giving in proportion to what you have been given
Three times a year every male was to make a journey to the sanctuary in the city that would be designated as Israel’s religious capital. At these festivals, each participant was encouraged to give what he could in proportion to what God had given him. God does not expect us to give more than we can, but we will be blessed when we give cheerfully. For some, 10 percent may be a burden. For most of us, that would be far too little. Look at what you have and then give in proportion to what you have been given. (NLT)
Deuteronomy 16:16-17 – “Each year every man in Israel must celebrate these three festivals: the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Harvest, and the Festival of Shelters. They must appear before the Lord your God at the place he chooses on each of these occasions, and they must bring a gift to the Lord. All must give as they are able, according to the blessings given to them by the Lord your God.
* Our giving shows our real priorities
The fact that this command was included probably indicates that some Israelites were sacrificing imperfect or deformed animals to God. Then as now, it is difficult and expensive to offer God our best (i.e., the first part of what we earn). It is always tempting to shortchange God because we think we won’t get caught. But our giving shows our real priorities. When we give God the leftovers, it is obvious that he is not at the center of our lives. Give God the honor of having first claim on your money, time, and talents. (NLT)
Deuteronomy 17:1 – “Never sacrifice a sick or defective ox or sheep to the Lord your God, for he detests such gifts.”
* A true sacrifice is giving something of value
When David wanted to buy Araunah’s land to build an altar, Araunah generously offered it as a gift. But David refused, saying, “I cannot take what is yours and give it to the Lord. I will not offer a burnt offering that has cost me nothing.” David wanted to offer an offering (or sacrifice) to God. An offering should cost the giver in terms of self, time, or money. To give sacrificially requires more than a token effort or gift. God wants us to give voluntarily, but he wants it to mean something. Giving to God what costs you nothing does not demonstrate commitment. (NLT)
1 Chronicles 21:22-24 – David said to Araunah, “Let me buy this threshing floor from you at its full price. Then I will build an altar to the Lord there, so that he will stop the plague.” “Take it, my lord, and use it as you wish,” Araunah said to David. “Here are oxen for the burnt offerings, and you can use the threshing tools for wood to build a fire on the altar. And take the wheat for the grain offering. I will give it all to you.”
But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying what it is worth. I cannot take what is yours and give it to the Lord. I will not offer a burnt offering that has cost me nothing!”
* Giving to God first
This refers to the practice of giving to God the first and best portion of the harvest. Many people give God their leftovers. If they can afford to donate anything after the bills are paid, they do so. These people may be sincere and contribute willingly, but they are not obeying what God says. God wants the first part of our income. This demonstrates that God, not possessions, has first place in our life and that our resources belong to him (we are only managers). Giving to God helps us conquer greed, helps us properly manage God’s resources, and opens us up to receive God’s special blessings. (NLT)
Proverbs 3:9-10 – Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything your land produces. Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with the finest wine.
* – God’s law required that only perfect animals be offered to God. But these priests were allowing the people to offer blind, crippled, and diseased animals to God. God accused them of dishonoring him by offering imperfect sacrifices, and he was greatly displeased. The New Testament says that our lives should be living sacrifices to God. If we give God only our leftover time, money, and energy, we repeat the same sin as these worshipers, who didn’t want to bring anything valuable to God. What we give God reflects our true attitude toward him. (NLT)
Malachi 1:6-8 – The Lord Almighty says to the priests: “A son honors his father, and a servant respects his master. I am your father and master, but where are the honor and respect I deserve? You have despised my name! But you ask, ‘How have we ever despised your name?’ You defile them by saying the altar of the Lord deserves no respect. When you give blind animals as sacrifices, isn’t that wrong? And isn’t it wrong to offer animals that are crippled and diseased? Try giving gifts like that to your governor, and see how pleased he is!” says the Lord Almighty.
* Why we should give generously
As the Temple reconstruction progressed, everyone contributed free will offerings according to his or her ability. Some were able to give huge gifts and did so generously. Everyone’s effort and cooperation were required, and the people gave as much as they could. Often we limit our giving to 10 percent of our income. The Bible, however, emphasizes that we should give from the heart all that we are able. Let your gift be decided by God’s call to give generously, not by the amount you have left over. (NLT)
Ezra 2:68-69 – When they arrived at the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem, some of the family leaders gave generously toward the rebuilding of God’s Temple on its original site. And each leader gave as much as he could. The total of their gifts came to 61,000 gold coins, 6,250 pounds of silver and 100 robes for the priests.
* – Jesus gave the disciples a principle to guide their actions as they ministered to others: “Give as freely as you have received.” Because God has showered us with his blessings, we should give generously to others of our time, love, and possessions. (NLT)
Matthew 10:8 – [Jesus said] “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast our demons. Give as freely as you have received!”
* – People may hesitate to give generously to God because they worry about having enough money left over to meet their own needs. Paul assured the Corinthians that God was able to meet their needs. The person who gives only a little will receive only a little in return. Don’t let a lack of faith keep you from giving cheerfully and generously. (NLT)
2 Corinthians 9:6-8 – Remember this–a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each make up your own mind as to how much you should give. Don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves the person who gives cheerfully. And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.
* Giving only to get something in return
When Jesus says not to let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, he is teaching that our motives for giving to God and to others must be pure. It is easy to give with mixed motives, to do something for someone if it will benefit us in return. But believers should avoid all scheming and give for the pleasure of giving and as a response to God’s love. Why do you give? (NLT)
Matthew 6:3 – [Jesus said] “But when you give to someone, don’t tell your left hand what your right hand is doing.”
* What you may have to give up to follow Jesus
Following Jesus is not always easy or comfortable. Often it means great cost and sacrifice, with no earthly rewards or security. Jesus didn’t have a place to call home. You may find that following Christ costs you popularity, friendships, leisure time, or treasured habits. But while the cost of following Christ is high, the value of being Christ’s disciple is even higher. Discipleship is an investment that lasts for eternity and yields incredible rewards. (NLT)
Matthew 8:19-20 – Then one of the teachers of religious law said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you no matter where you go!” But Jesus said, “:Foxes have dens to live in , and birds have nests, but I, the Son of Man, have no home of my own, not even a place to lay my head.”
* – Should all believers sell everything they own? No. We are responsible to care for our own needs and the needs of our families so as not to be a burden on others. We should, however, be willing to give up anything if God asks us to do so. This kind of attitude allows nothing to come between us and God and keeps us from using our God-given wealth selfishly. If you are comforted by the fact that Christ did not tell all his followers to sell all their possessions, then you may be too attached to what you have. (NLT)
Matthew 19:21 – Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
* – Jesus assured the disciples that anyone who gives up something valuable for his sake will be repaid many times over in this life, although not necessarily in the same form. For example, a person may be rejected by his or her family for accepting Christ, but he or she will gain the larger family of believers. (NLT)
Matthew 19:29 – [Jesus said] “And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will have eternal life.”
* Jesus uses whatever we give him
Jesus multiplied five loaves and two fish to feed over 5,000 people. What he was originally given seemed insufficient, but in his hands it became more than enough. We often feel that our contribution to Jesus is meager, but he can use and multiply whatever we give him, whether it is talent, time, or treasure. It is when we give them to Jesus that our resources are multiplied. (NLT)
Matthew 14:19-21 – Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. And he took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and asked God’s blessing on the food. Breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave some of the bread and fish to each disciple, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate as much as they wanted, and they picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. About five thousand men had eaten from those five loaves, in addition to all the women and children!
* – There is a lesson in the leftovers. God gives in abundance. He takes whatever we can offer him in time, ability, or resources and multiplies its effectiveness beyond our wildest expectations. If you take the first step in making yourself available to God, he will show you how greatly you can be used to advance the work of his Kingdom. (NLT)
John 6:13 – There were only five barley loaves to start with, but twelve baskets were filled with the pieces of bread the people did not eat!
* Giving a little is better than nothing
In performing his miracles, Jesus usually preferred to work through people. Here he took what a young child offered and used it to accomplish one of the most spectacular miracles recorded in the Gospels. Age is no barrier to Christ. Never think you are too young or old to be of service to him. (NLT)
John 6:8-9 – Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?”
* Being obedient in all areas of giving
It’s possible to obey the detail of the laws but still be disobedient in our general behavior. For example, we could be very precise and faithful about giving 10 percent of our money to God but refuse to give one minute of our time in helping others. Tithing is important, but giving a tithe does not exempt us from fulfilling God’s other directives. (NLT)
Matthew 23:23-24 – [Jesus said] “How terrible it will be for you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest part of your income, but you ignore the important things of the law–justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but you should not leave undone the more important things. Blind guides! You strain your water so you won’t accidentally swallow a gnat; then you swallow a camel!”
* The spirit of giving
In the Lord’s eyes, this poor widow gave more than all the others put together, although her gift was by far the smallest. The value of a gift is not determined by its amount but by the spirit in which it is given. A gift given grudgingly or for recognition loses its value. When you give, remember that gifts of any size are pleasing to God when they are given out of gratitude and a spirit of generosity. (NLT)
Mark 12:41-44 – Jesus went over to the collection box in the Temple and sat and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two pennies. He called his disciples to him and said, “I assure you, this poor widow has given more than all the others have given. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”
* Giving sacrificially
In contrast to the way most of us handle our money, this widow gave all she had to live on. When we consider ourselves generous in giving a small percentage of our income to the Lord, we resemble those who gave “a tiny part of their surplus.” Here, Jesus admired her generous and sacrificial giving. As believers, we should consider increasing our giving–whether money, time, or talents–to a point beyond mere convenience. (NLT)
Luke 21:1-4 – While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people putting their gifts into the collection box. Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two pennies. “I assure you,” he said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”
* – During this third missionary journey, Paul had collected money for the impoverished believers in Jerusalem. The churches in Macedonia–Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea–had given money even though they were poor, and they had sacrificially given more than Paul expected. Although they were poor themselves, they wanted to help. The amount we give is not as important as why and how we give. God does not want us to give grudgingly. Instead, he wants us to give as these churches did–out of dedication to Christ, love for fellow believers, the joy of helping those in need, as well as the fact that it was simply the good and right thing to do. How well does your giving measure up to the standards set by the Macedonian churches? (NLT)
2 Corinthians 8:2-5 – Though they have been going through much trouble and hard times, their wonderful joy and deep poverty have overflowed in rich generosity. For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford but far more. And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again and again for the gracious privilege of sharing in the gift for the Christians in Jerusalem. Best of all, they went beyond our highest hopes, for their first action was to dedicate themselves to the Lord and to us for whatever directions God might give them.
* Giving a natural response of love
The Corinthian believers excelled in everything–they had faith, gifted speakers, knowledge, enthusiasm, and love. Paul wanted them to also be leaders in giving. Giving is a natural response of love. Paul did not order the Corinthians to give, but he encouraged them to prove that their love was real. When you love someone, you want to give that person your time and attention and provide for his or her needs. If you refuse to help, your love is not as genuine as you say. (NLT)
2 Corinthians 8:7-8 – Since you excel in so many ways–you have so much faith, such gifted speakers, such knowledge, such enthusiasm, and such love for us–now I want you to excel also in this gracious ministry of giving. I am not saying you must do it, even though the other churches are eager to do it. This is one way to prove your love is real.
* Principles of giving
The Christians in the Corinthian church had money and apparently they had planned to collect money for the Jerusalem church a year previously. Paul challenges them to act on their plans. Four principles of giving emerge here: (1) Your willingness to give enthusiastically is more important than the amount you give; (2) you should strive to fulfill your financial commitments; (3) if you give to others in need, they will, in turn, help you when you are in need; (4) you should give as a response to Christ, not for anything you can get out of it. How you give reflects your devotion to Christ. (NLT)
2 Corinthians 8:10-15 – I suggest that you finish what you started a year ago, for you were the first to propose this idea, and you were the first to begin doing something about it. Now you should carry this project through to completion just as enthusiastically as you began it. Give whatever you can according to what you have. If you are really eager to give, it isn’t important how much you are able to give. God wants you to give what you have, not what you don’t have. Of course, I don’t mean you should give so much that you suffer from having too little, I only mean that there should be some equality. Right now you have plenty and can help them. Then at some other time they can share with you when you need it. In this way, everyone’s needs will be met. Do you remember what the Scriptures say about this? “Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough.”
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