A life pattern is the way we structure our life. Our patterns are built or drawn from the values that we develop over time. These values come from many different sources including family, friends, culture and God.
Our life pattern transforms when we begin a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Our old values have created certain habits and ways of thinking. We need to discover and enter a whole new understanding of a kingdom reality. Spiritual growth involves a process of confronting old attitudes and actions that are deeply ingrained in us.
As I was travelling through a process one of the basic values that I confronted concerned my view of giving. Very simply, when I went to God’s Word I began to see something very different.
It was the New Testament standard for giving that required from me a higher financial commitment. It was based on a completely different paradigm. I was to assist the poor, the widows, and the fatherless and to support the ministers of the gospel. The apostles never quoted scriptures about tithing.
With a basic understanding of grace giving that has now developed through the years I want to share what I have learnt when grace and giving collide under the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit
Giving is motivated by grace
Inner motivation, not outward compulsion. Motive and attitude are crucial. I discovered that my giving is a reflective response to the grace of God in my life and it comes from the transforming work of God in me. Grace is the action and giving is the reaction.
The motivating power in grace is the indwelling Spirit of God. Under grace I needed to respond out of love and gratitude to God and made me dependent upon the indwelling Holy Spirit to conform my life to what God requires.
Giving is about my personal relationship with God
My relationship with the Holy Spirit, not the old dispensation of the Law changed my heart on giving. It would have been easier in some ways to follow a set of rules. Just give your 10 percent and that takes care of the matter. But God wanted me to be led by the Holy Spirit. That’s kind of scary! But the point is, I am not living by rules, but in a relationship with the living God.
I love the attitude of the Macedonian believers: they had an abundance of joy (2 Corinthians 8:2); they gave of their own accord (2 Corinthians 8:3); they begged with much entreaty for the favour (2 Corinthians 8:4!); first they gave themselves to the Lord (2 Corinthians 8:5); they had both the readiness and desire (2 Corinthians 8:10-12, 9:2); they gave cheerfully, not grudgingly or under compulsion (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Giving boldly affirms Christ’s Lordship over my life
Aren’t you glad that God did not just give a tenth! He gave all. The Lord Jesus Christ was infinitely rich. He dwelled in the unimaginable splendour, but He gave that up, laid aside His privileges, and took on human flesh and was born and lived in poverty. He ultimately impoverished Himself to the maximum by taking upon Himself the sin of the human race in order that we might become rich.
Grace giving looks to the nail-pierced hands of the Lord Jesus, who gave Himself so that I might be rescued from the wrath of God, and says, “Lord, You gave all for me! What can I give back to You?”
As I give to God I want to express His worth in my life. For me it is about giving all the glory to God and responding to the giving nature of God.
Giving is being a steward of what God has given me
The concept of stewardship for me is very simple. All that I am and have belongs to God, not just a percentage. I am merely the manager of His resources. As a good manager, I use the Owner’s resources to further His work.
I acknowledge God as owner, myself as servant and others as intended beneficiaries of what God has entrusted to me
Giving becomes a skill.
‘But since you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you – see that you also excel in this grace of giving’ 2 Corinthians 8:7. I practice to get better at it. I continually want to learn to give more, give more often and give more sacrificially. I ask the Lord how and where I can give sacrificially to His purpose.
Giving infuses my life with joy
For me all I can say here is that giving creates in me a spirit of unspeakable joy. I regularly ask God to help me share the joy of giving with my family, my friends, my church and others in my sphere of influence so they too may experience the greatest present joy and future reward. I have discovered the secret of joyful giving.
Giving is a testimony of God’s grace in my life
Unless we learn how to humbly tell others our giving stories, we will never learn to give. This is one of the most important lessons that I learnt.
It came about through a situation where my wife has lost a close relative and she wanted to go to the funeral. We were living in the deep south of our country and the funeral was in the north. Being new in ministry we did not have the money for an airfare. This was years before the relatively cheap air fares we enjoy today. I sensed the Lord tell me to buy the ticket. I did not have enough money in bank account for a return ticket so in faith I bought it. Yes, I saw the money come out of my account but the balance on my bank statement did not change, and to this day (many years later) I cannot explain it except for the grace of God.
A suggestion for those who want to become grace givers, that I have learnt
Give according to what we have
But here’s the catch: we need to start giving where we are at.
Financial situations vary widely due to many factors – earning power, family size, previous money management. Therefore, it’s impossible and unbiblical to set a monetary standard for what constitutes significant giving. God prizes our readiness to give, not the amount we give. I found it was better to begin by giving a small amount based on a loving response to God’s grace than it is to give a large amount based on outward pressure or pride. It changed my thinking from, “How much do I have to give?” to, “How much can I give?” I did not need to wait for someone to pressure me with a need; I began looking for needs that I could meet. I look for and give to Christian organizations or workers that do not pressure donors with desperate appeals for funds.
Start giving now.
Choose an amount that affects your lifestyle. An excellent plan is: live NOW in a way that if God called you to full-time ministry, you could do it. Although the tithe is no longer in force, 10 percent of our gross income is a good rule of thumb and feasible for many of us as a starting point.
Discuss this with the family.
Incorporate your giving as a definite part of your budget — give “off the top” when you receive your pay.
Be faithful to this commitment even when unexpected needs arise (unless impossible). The Macedonians gave in the midst of a great ordeal of affliction, out of deep poverty (2 Corinthians 8:2). Jesus commended the poor widow who gave all she had to live on, but He was not impressed with the large gifts of the rich, because they had much left over (Mark 12:41-44).
It is not the size of the gift that matters – it is the attitude of the heart reflected in the gift
May God richly bless you in the joy of giving