We are approaching the celebration of the greatest gift God ever offered – the birth of our Savior the Lord Jesus. Through this gift, all mankind can receive forgiveness and fullness in this lifetime, as well as eternal life. God so loved all of us that He not only offered grace through this Child, but life through the sacrificial death and glorious resurrection of His only begotten Son. God is love and a great expression of that is giving.
Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Giving and sharing God’s love is one of the most meaningful experiences we can have on this earth. I have shared many times on LIFE Today, “If you want to live life fully, express life freely.” And remember, the “ministry of giving” is not limited to money. It can be expressed in many ways through showing concern, giving time or attention, a listening ear, or a shoulder to lean on.
Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount that where your treasure is, your heart is also. Self-interest is totally appropriate and necessary. We must take responsibility for ourselves and our families. But beyond this legitimate interest comes the importance of interest in the well-being of others. When we notice and care about others, we experience the heart of God. Committing to His kingdom purpose allows His will to be revealed to us and through us, so that others may see the reality of God’s love and His interest in their lives now and forever.
The Apostle Paul encouraged the Corinthian church in the area of generosity. These words followed a stern reprimand, calling them to godliness and true holiness instead of the fleshly tendencies of the world. They were among the ones who supported Paul’s mission outreaches and he commended them with these words:
“They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has 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 privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem. They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do.” (2 Cor 8:2-5, NLT)
Think about it. They literally begged for the privilege of sharing with other believers. He complimented them on their enthusiasm and love, and also said, “I want you to excel in the gracious act of giving.”
Paul went on to tell the Corinthian believers that he wanted them to understand the importance of the “ministry of giving.” Then he challenged them to make willing gifts, not those that are given grudgingly. “God loves a cheerful giver,” he wrote. He followed that statement with a great promise from our heavenly Father: “God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others” (2 Cor 9:8). Once again, Paul is pointing beyond our own legitimate interest to the importance of caring about others.
Paul then shared a promise from Psalm 112:9, “They share freely and give generously to the poor and their good deeds will be remembered forever,” and went on inspiring the Corinthian Christians reminding them, “God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and in the same way He will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous” (v10). Then he referenced the “ministry of giving” again pointing to the positive effect we can have on others. “The needs of believers will be met and they will joyfully express their thanks to God. As a result of your ministry they will give glory to God!” (v13). The “ministry of giving” not only meets the needs of others, but God says because of it, He promises to meet our needs. As a result of living to give and giving to live, we will be glorifying God through our lives and others will give God glory because we have shared real life and true love with them. Paul made it clear to the Philippian Christians that because of their faithfulness and loving support, “My God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) What a great promise to those who experience the joy of giving!
I often share that, “If you want your prayers answered, seek to be an answer to someone’s prayer. “ Everyone can find someone to love in some way. What a wonderful way to celebrate the birth of Jesus and the coming New Year. You will be greatly blessed by becoming a blessing to others!