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You Can't Out-give God
The more we trust God to take care of us as we yield our finances, time and service to Him, the more He will give back. His giving is motivated by love. Do we want to be givers like He is?

One word truly sums up the nature of God—the word "giving." The same word describes the message and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. My computerized Bible program counted 908 uses of the word "give" in Scripture. The first time we see God's giving nature is in Genesis 1:15 where He gives light to the earth. From now on He gives again and again, giving seed, rain, food, land, children, life, hope and blessing upon blessing.

Giving God's way often means dealing with the issue of motive. The attitudes of our hearts must be right.

God gives constantly and consistently. His generosity culminates in the gift of His only Son who died a horrible death on the cross in payment for our sin.

How can God be so generous? It's a natural outflow of His limitless love: "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

Jesus too gave His all, and expects nothing less from us. He tells us to forsake everything, even family, to take up the cross and follow Him (Matthew 10:38, 39). In losing everything, He says we gain everything. Giving up everything that we would hold dear in the natural, we gain true riches, which are spiritually discerned.

Giving God's way often means dealing with the issue of motive. The attitudes of our hearts must be right. Are we giving "to get" from God? Are we giving out of legalistic obedience and religious tradition, or out of a pure heart motivated by love for God and for others. Do we want to be givers like He is? Hopefully we give out of an appreciation for who God is, and for what He has given us.

We can give in many ways: our time, energy, money, love, work and service. In all these areas though, the 80/20 rule usually applies—80 percent of work is done by 20 percent of people. Blessed indeed is any congregation where 50 percent of the membership is carrying the load associated with running the church.

The challenge for pastors and leaders is to encourage the remaining 80 percent to participate. Otherwise they will miss much both in this life, and the one to come, by forfeiting a life of giving. God has promised, "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you" (Luke 6:38). Those who are givers have learned that you cannot out-give God.

Those who have taken the step of faith to tithe a tenth of their income can testify that the remaining 90 percent of their earnings, when blessed by God, goes much further than 100 percent under our management. But often tithing must be practised over a prolonged season, and even through times of testing, before results manifest.

Carol and I can't afford not to tithe. We have learned that giving is a kingdom principle through which God trains us to be more like Him.

Years ago, when Carol was a single mom with two boys, she had only $55 a week to live on. After Jesus saved her she learned about giving from her local church in Stratford, Ontario. She began giving $5.50 to the Lord and somehow, there was always enough. Miracle after miracle taught her the faithfulness of a loving, giving and even extravagant heavenly Father.

As we come to know how big and how nice He is, we develop trust in Him and choose to act on His promises.

But giving encompasses more than just money. God wants us to surrender everything in our lives to His control. So later, after Carol and I married, she insisted that we tithe. I had fallen away from the practice through various trials, hurts and disappointments. We found that faithful tithing was foundational to a life of giving in general. Giving everything, especially God's love and anointing, has now become our life's message. It became the mission statement of our church and ministry: "Walk in God's love and then give it away." If we give our time to the Lord, He multiplies our fruitfulness. If we give Him our work, He multiplies our productivity.

The principles of giving and receiving seem to hold true in every situation to touch friendships, employment, finances and even health. Do you need friends? Perhaps you should serve in some way first. Do you need finances? The poor widow Jesus described gave all that she had (Mark 12:42). He notices and rewards those who give sacrificially.

Regardless of what our need, God has arranged for us to receive blessing based on our willingness to give. As we come to know how big and how nice He is, we develop trust in Him and choose to act on His promises. Satan, of course, whispers that faith doesn't work, but God urges us on, prompting us to give even when we feel we can least afford it.

John Arnott itinerates internationally and pastors the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship.

Originally published in Spread the Fire, December 1997.




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