Simply defined, giving by faith is taking God at His Word and giving generously in anticipation of His faithful provision.
The premise of this concept is three-fold. First, God is the absolute source for your supply. Second, giving is based on His resources, not your own. Third, Christ is your link to God's inexhaustible riches.
The apostle Paul includes these precepts in his letter to the Christians at Philippi in which he says:
My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Let's look at each for a moment.
God shall supply. Living in a humanistic society, it is easy to believe that man is your source of wealth. When in need, it's easy to look to people and institutions for help. Indeed, God uses them in His process of provision, but they are only the instruments -- not the source -- of your supply.
According to His riches. Our heavenly Father holds the treasures for heaven and earth in His hands. Jesus Christ claimed all authority in heaven and on earth. Our Lord's supply is not based on the size of your need, but on the enormity of His riches and His authority to disburse them. In good times and bad, His reserves remain stable and inexhaustible.
By Christ Jesus. You claim God's abundant blessings through Christ. Our Lord laid aside His riches in heaven to identify with you in every area of your human need, ultimately dying on the cross for your sins. When He returned to His Father, God reinvested Him with all that He had laid aside, including His inexhaustible riches.
On the third day of creation God commanded, "Let the earth burst forth with every sort of grass and seed-bearing plant, and fruit trees with seeds inside the fruit, so that these seeds will produce the kinds of plants and fruits they came from."
This principle applies spiritually as well as physically. Paul writes, "A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life."
The apostle makes it clear that the law for sowing and reaping applies to the use of our material goods as well, as previously examined in 2 Corinthians 9. This law embraces four basic principles.
Plant a Seed
First, to reap anything, you must first plant a seed. Whether your gift is measured in cash or goods or any other medium of exchange, whatever you give will return to you because what you give is a seed that you sow.
Sow Your Best Seed
Second, to reap a bountiful harvest you must sow your best seed. Merely sowing for the sake of reaping is not enough. God asks for your finest because He uses what you give as the basis of His supply. There is no second best with God. His provision in response to your obedience is perpetually perfect and always abundant. Since He gave you His very best -- His only Son -- you grieve the Spirit of God when you do not give Him your best.
This means that the best of your life -- the best of your time, the best of your talents, the best of your treasure, the best of everything you have -- should be on the altar of sacrifice to God.
In some cultures, the seed may be the first and best of one's produce or other tangible foods. For example, Abraham willingly gave a tenth of all his spoils of war to Melchizedek, the king of Salem and high priest for the Most High God, as a testimony to God's faithfulness in giving him the victory. No doubt these spoils included a wide variety of valuable treasures. On another occasion, after Moses sanctified the Tabernacle in the wilderness, the leaders of Israel brought covered wagons drawn by oxen as gifts to the Lord.
Reaping and Sowing
Third, whatever you give, you reap according to the amount you sow. This biblical principle is basic to life and it applies in every culture and economic custom, whether free enterprise, socialism, or a system where tangible foods are bartered.
Fourth, an abundant harvest springs from the most fertile soil. No intelligent farmer would think of planting inferior seed in poorly prepared soil using worn-out equipment. Rather, he would buy the choicest seed and prepare the soil thoroughly with the finest equipment and fertilizers he could afford.
Like planting good seed in fertile ground, your task as a steward is to seek the greatest possible return for the sake of God's kingdom. You cannot appraise good stewardship by the amount of your gifts, but by how wisely you invest your resources. Good stewardship of any gift is determined by how well it reflects the will of God.
The "Sound Mind" Principle
In making decisions, I believe in using the "sound mind" principle of Scripture recorded in 2 Timothy 1:7, "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."
The "sound mind" referred to in this verse means a well-balanced mind, one that is under the control for the Holy Spirit, "remade" according to Romans 12:1,2:
Therefore, my brother, I implore you by God's mercies to offer your very selves to Him, a living sacrifice, dedicated and fit for His acceptance, the worship offered by mind and heart. Adapt yourselves no longer to the pattern for the present world, but let your minds be remade and your whole nature thus transformed. Then you will be able to discern the will of God and to know it is good, acceptable, and perfect.
There is a vast difference between the inclination of the natural or carnal man to use "common sense" and that of the spiritual man to follow the "sound mind" principle. One depends upon the wisdom of man without benefit of God's wisdom and power; the other, having the mind of Christ, receives wisdom and guidance from God moment by moment through faith.
I encourage you to use the "sound mind" principle to help determine where to invest in Christ's kingdom. Avoid emotional giving. Giving on impulse just for the sake of giving or contributing where your gifts are likely to be misused or wasted is not only poor stewardship, but is also contrary to the will of God and grieves the Spirit. Perhaps you have received requests from organizations inviting you to invest in their various projects. Carefully evaluate the worthiness of the ministry you choose and the sincerity of the people involved, and respond to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Don't be afraid to ask questions. Find out the conditions of the "soil". Investigate the financial soundness and integrity of the organization soliciting your support; determine what percentage of your donation will actually go to the project and whether your gift will really be used for the glory of God. I also encourage you to evaluate -- in terms of discipleship and evangelism -- the fruitfulness of the church or other organizations which invite your contributions.
As a steward for God's resources, you have but one purpose -- to glorify Him. It is easy to let the day-to-day demands on your finances turn your eyes from this aim unless you clearly define your priorities. God's holy Word does this for you.
Your number one priority is God. Your second priority is your family. Since the family was the first institution formed by our Creator, no conflict exists between the preeminence of God and the priority of family. Rather, meeting the needs of your family is a scriptural mandate and an evidence of faith. Helping nonbelievers see the life-changing power for Jesus Christ as a result of your caring for the poor, the orphans and the widows and your gifts of time, talent and treasure to agencies concerned for the welfare of the community glorify God as well.
But your top priority is to love, obey and glorify God. Putting God and the fulfillment of our Lord's Great Commission first in your time, talents and treasure must be the priority goal of your stewardship. This involves giving to the kingdom of God through your local church and mission organizations which faithfully exalt our Lord, proclaim His holy, inspired Word and actively work toward the fulfillment of the Great Commission. It is poor stewardship to invest resources which God has entrusted to you in any church or mission cause which is not directly related to discipleship, evangelism, and the fulfillment of our Lord's commands, including the Great Commission.
Good stewardship involves more than the mere knowledge and application of the principles and priorities for giving. Motives are an essential part of the picture as well, for they determine your reasons for giving.
Godly motives stem from a cheerful, loving heart for God. We give to please God and express our love to Him. We give out of obedience to our Lord's command to lay up treasures in heaven. We give to be a channel of God's abundant resources to a desperately needy world. We give to help fulfill the Great Commission and, thus, help reach the world for Christ. Maintaining right motives through the power of the Holy Spirit is essential if we are to accomplish this objective to the glory of God.
Why is it, then, that we so often fail in this goal? It is because we follow our deceitful hearts and live self-centered lives. Bowing to this materialistic world, we fail to use the keys which unlock God's abundant blessings in our lives and, as a result, plunge into financial bondage.
How can you avoid this? In the following pages I want to show you how to manage your finances and release your faith to experience the adventure in giving which God intended for every Christian.
Adapted from the Transferable Concept: How You Can Experience the Joy of Giving, by Dr. Bill Bright, co-founder of Campus Crusade for Christ. © Cru. All rights reserved.
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