The sixth key ingredient to becoming a stronger, stable, mature believer is being passionate about giving. Previously we have looked at other key ingredients such as being passionate concerning:
The lessons in this study of 10 Ways to be a Stronger Christian are based on a study I completed by Rick Renner Ministries.
The precious Word of God states in Romans 8:1 (MEV): There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
Therefore, do not allow the Adversary to bring condemnation for areas throughout this study series where you may be weak. Ask your Heavenly Father to help you become stronger and He will!
We Will Discover…
In this lesson, we will discover that generosity is a major sign that God is actively working in the life of a believer or church. Hence, toward the generous, God behaves Himself generously.
Moreover, the Bible says the people of the early church gave so much that they reached a point where there were no needy people in the church. Furthermore, everyone’s needs were met because everyone generously gave to the Lord and to one another. Obviously, the early church was passionate about giving.
When you faithfully give your tithe and offering, God opens the windows of Heaven and pours out blessings on your life.
Likewise, when you are passionate about giving and open your hands to give in obedience to Him, God opens His mouth to rebuke the devourer from your life (see Malachi 3:11).
Scriptures Referenced in this Lesson
- 2 Chronicles 1:6-7; 7:5, 12
- 2 Samuel 24:24
- Acts 2:46-47; 4:32-37; 10:38
- Genesis 8:20; 12:7; 22
- Luke 21:1-4
- Malachi 1:7-14; 3:7-11
- Matthew 6:21
- Philippians 4:19
- Proverbs 3:9-10
Greek Words Referenced
- Euergeteo = (doing good):
- to do good; depicts a benefactor or philanthropist;
Apostles learned Generosity from Jesus
Being passionate about giving is one of the major signs that God is working in the life of an individual or a church. The apostles had learned generosity from their firsthand experience with Jesus. The disciples lived in constant fellowship with Jesus for three years — observing and absorbing what He did and how He did it.
In time, they learned to replicate in their own lives everything Jesus did.
- They healed people the way Jesus healed
- The disciples taught the Word the way Jesus taught
- They cast out devils the way He cast out devils
- The disciples prayed the way He prayed
- They worshiped the way He worshiped
- The disciples learned to be generous the way He was generous.
Of all the topics Jesus talked about in His earthly ministry, money was very high on the list. According to Scripture, there was something to observe in Jesus’ ministry concerning the distribution of funds to the needy.
Acts 10:38 states:
“And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.”
Usually, we read too fast. Therefore, in this verse, one phrase often gets overlooked. It is the phrase “doing good.”
“Doing good” is a translation of the Greek word euergeteo which depicts a benefactor or philanthropist.
This is a person who financially supports charitable works or one who uses his financial resources to meet the needs of disadvantaged people. Moreover, euergeteo was only used in connection with the provision of food, clothes, or some other commodity associated with physical or material needs.
Therefore, in addition to the supernatural side of Jesus’ ministry — laying hands on the sick, casting out demons, and healing those who were oppressed of the devil — Jesus also had an entire natural side of His ministry dedicated to philanthropy. That is, He used the finances and resources at His disposal to meet the physical needs of disadvantaged people. Jesus was passionate about giving to people.
Where Is Your Heart?
In Matthew 6:21, Jesus made a powerful statement regarding our heart condition and our giving. He said:
“Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”
In other words, what we do with our money, how and where we invest it and spend it, paints a picture of what we truly love and value in life.
If we truly love our spouse and children, we are going to invest money in their lives. If we love Jesus and His Church, we are going to invest our finances into His Church and His people.
Therefore, when our hearts are open to the Lord and He is working in our lives, our wallets and purses will also be open. As a result of His generosity with us, we become generous with Him (passionate about giving.)
When our lives have been truly touched by God, our hearts will be open, and we will be generous with Him and others. This exactly describes the Early Church!
“Just follow the money,” and it will tell the truth about what we love and value most in life.
The Early Church Was Passionate About Giving
From its inception, the First Century Church was generous. Acts 2:46-47 states:
“They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity — all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.”
This was only the beginning. Likewise, we read in Acts 4:32-35 that their generosity continued to expand. The Scripture states:
“32 All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had.” [Emphasis added]
Clearly, unity among the believers quickly led to generosity. Consequently, no one was in lack. We read the result, in verse 33:
“33 The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all.” [Emphasis added]
As the people were generous with their natural possessions, God became more generous with His supernatural blessings. This gave way to even more generosity among believers (see Acts 4:34-35.)
Barnabas was Passionate about Giving
In Acts 4:36-37, we meet:
“…Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means “Son of Encouragement”). He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus. He sold a field he owned and brought the money to the apostles.”
Barnabas was powerfully touched by God, and he became a very big giver in the church.
Where Your Treasure Is
As a result of the generosity of the Early Church, God’s supernatural power abounded. That body of believers overflowed with signs, wonders, miracles, and people becoming believers in Christ.
As they were generous with God, God was generous with them. You could tell where their hearts were by observing what they did with their money, possessions, and time.
Jesus said plainly in Matthew 6:21:
“Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”
What we do with our money — where, how, and on whom we spend it — reveals the condition of our heart.
Being Passionate About Giving Is Meant To Be Sacrificial
During the time of the Old Testament, giving was usually connected to the building of an altar. Altars didn’t just miraculously appear. They had to be built. Stones had to be gathered, prepared and then put in place. When the altar was finally finished, sacrifices would then be offered.
Additionally, this lets us know that giving in the Old Testament was not a last-minute, haphazard afterthought. It was very well thought out and intentional. Time was needed to plan the constructing of the altar, and resources were needed to worship God through sacrifice.
A Few Examples
- In Genesis 8:20, Noah built an altar to the Lord after the flood. He then sacrificed many animals to Him, and as a result, God blessed him and his family.
- Genesis 12:7 states that Abraham built an altar to God upon entering the land of Canaan. In response to Abraham’s generosity, God was generous toward Abraham and his family.
- Decades later, God asked Abraham to give Him his most cherished possession — his only son Isaac (see Genesis 22). Without hesitation, Abraham made the three-day journey to the land of Moriah and built an altar to the Lord on the designated mountain.
Once God saw Abraham’s willingness to give his very best and withhold nothing from Him, God stepped in and provided a ram to be sacrificed in place of Isaac.
King David was Passionate About Giving
Hundreds of years later, King David desired to build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of King Araunah the Jebusite. Araunah wanted to give the threshing floor to David along with the oxen and the wood he needed to build the altar and make the sacrifice. But David would not take it. Instead, David said to Araunah,
“…No, I insist on buying it, for I will not present burnt offerings to the Lord my God that have cost me nothing.” So David paid him fifty pieces of silver for the threshing floor and the oxen.” – 2 Samuel 24:24
David refused to offer a sacrifice to God that cost him nothing. This is one of the most important principles of giving found in the entire Bible. Giving is meant to be sacrificial — it is supposed to cost us something.
When someone in the Bible built an altar to God, it was usually at a critical moment in his life. That person needed something from God, and it always cost him something as well. As that individual was generous with the Lord, He was generous with them and responded favorably to their offering.
Solomon was Passionate About Giving
Without question, David’s son Solomon goes down in Biblical history as one of the most generous givers of all-time. At the beginning of his reign over Israel, he went to the tabernacle to seek the face of God and garner His favor.
2 Chronicles 1:6 states:
“There in front of the Tabernacle, Solomon went up to the bronze altar in the Lord’s presence and sacrificed 1,000 burnt offerings on it.”
One thousand burnt offerings was no small feat, but Solomon desired to demonstrate his great love in a tangible way and implore God’s blessings on him and the nation of Israel. Moreover, we see in verse 7, Solomon’s sacrifice was well received. Scripture states:
“That night God appeared to Solomon and said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!”
Completion of the Temple in Jerusalem
Likewise, after the completion of the temple in Jerusalem, the time had finally arrived to offer sacrifices to God and dedicate His house of worship. King Solomon remembered God’s response when he sacrificed a thousand burnt offerings. Therefore, Solomon decided to exponentially increase his giving. 2 Chronicles 7:5 states:
“King Solomon offered a sacrifice of 22,000 cattle and 120,000 sheep and goats. And so the king and all the people dedicated the Temple of God.”
A great amount of time and effort was required to collect and prepare the animals. Solomon was well-organized and very intentional in his giving. There was nothing haphazard about it.
Consequently, according to 2 Chronicles 7:12, Solomon’s offering was once again well received. Scripture states:
“Then one night the Lord appeared to Solomon and said, “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this Temple as the place for making sacrifices.”
When Solomon was generous with God, God was generous with him. In both cases, God responded to his great sacrifice with great blessing. This is why Solomon’s instruction in Proverbs 3:9-10 is so valuable to us.
“Honor the Lord with your substance, and with the first fruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your presses will burst out with new wine.”
If you will honor God with your finances, time and material possessions, He will honor you and bless you in amazing ways. If you will be generous with Him, He will be generous with you!
When Israel’s Heart for Giving Was Wrong
If you want to truly experience the blessings of God in your life in abundance, it is important to know and understand what He said about giving. In the book of Malachi, we read of a time when the people of Israel were not giving as they should, and it showed.
Take a moment and read Malachi 1:7-10.
We read in Malachi 1:7-10 that instead of giving to God the best with joyful hearts and with thanksgiving, the people were giving grudgingly and were offering God the blind, lame, and sick animals. They must have thought God would not notice. How wrong they were.
God, who is all-knowing, heard their conversations. He knew their thoughts and told them, (paraphrasing) “Your heart is wrong about your giving.”
The Creator and Sustainer of life asked: (paraphrasing again) “Would you bring those kinds of animals to your governor? Do you think he would accept them? Do you think he would be pleased with you? I don’t think so!”
“If this is the way you’re going to treat Me, I would prefer you stopped offering sacrifices altogether. Just shut the doors to the temple if you’re going to dishonor Me.
Israel Brought a Curse on Themselves
We read in Malachi 1:11-14
11 But my name is honored by people of other nations from morning till night. All around the world, they offer sweet incense and pure offerings in honor of my name. For my name is great among the nations,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
12 “But you dishonor my name with your actions…
…By bringing contemptible food, you are saying it’s all right to defile the Lord’s Table.
13 You say, ‘It’s too hard to serve the Lord,’ and you turn up your noses at my commands,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “Think of it! Animals that are stolen and crippled and sick are being presented as offerings! Should I accept from you such offerings as these?” asks the Lord.
14 “Cursed is the cheat who promises to give a fine ram from his flock but then sacrifices a defective one to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “and my name is feared among the nations!
HERE’S A THOUGHT: Could it be that our hardships are a result of our treatment of our Creator?
God Called Israel To Return to Him
Thankfully, God didn’t abandon Israel for her corrupt ways. Instead, He called His people to return to Him and do the right thing.
Malachi 3:7 – God said: “ return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.”
The people of Israel had robbed God by bringing Him the leftovers and the “rejects” of their flocks. They kept back the best for themselves. They had robbed God and withheld the choicest sacrifices, and God said in Malachi 3:9:
“You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me.”
Did God need Israel’s offerings? No. He wanted their hearts. What they were experiencing was more a spiritual problem than a financial one. Their choice to withhold their tithes and offerings was a manifestation of a spiritual sickness of the heart. The only way to make things right was to become passionate about giving God what He had asked to be set aside for Him.
Does God need our money? No — He wants our heart.
Remember the words of Jesus: “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” – Matthew 6:21
The Windows of Heaven
What was the remedy for Israel’s calamity for their wrong choices?
Malachi 3:10 – “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!”
Our obedience in giving is the key to the windows of Heaven. When we aren’t giving, the windows are closed. However, when we are giving, the windows of Heaven are open, and God’s abundance begins to pour into our lives. What else has God promised to do if we would obediently give our tithe and offerings?
Malachi 3:11 (MEV) states: “I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes so that it will not destroy the fruit of your ground, and the vines in your field will not fail to bear fruit, says the Lord of Hosts.”
When you open your hands to give, God opens His mouth to rebuke the devil from your life. For those who are passionate about giving, God says to the devil, “Get away from them now! Move away from their finances, their health, and their relationships. I, the Lord, rebuke you for their sakes.” When you open your hand to give, God opens His mouth and begins to rebuke the devourer from your life.
The Rich Men’s Attitude
Someone may ask, “Does Jesus really care what I give or how I give? The answer is found in the gospel of Luke. During an offering time at the temple, Jesus was watching those who were giving.
Luke 21:1 states: “While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box.”
The word “watched” means to observe or to experience. Jesus was watching not just what the men gave, but also how they gave. Apparently, the rich men were simply tossing money into the offering out of duty — not in an attitude of reverence or worship. What they gave didn’t really cost them anything because they had so much.
The Poor Widow’s Attitude
Then Luke 21:2 states: “Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins.”
The Greek rendering of this verse says she was “reverently putting in two mites.”
Although what the widow gave was very small in comparison to what the rich men gave, it was extremely costly to her because she didn’t have much. Giving her two mites was a huge sacrifice.
Jesus saw her giving and was impressed by her sacrifice. He said:
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus 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.” – Luke 21:3-4
The Greek rendering of verse 3 says, “What she has put in is more than all their giving combined.” It wasn’t the amount that made her offering greater. It was her great sacrifice and the reverent attitude of her heart that impressed the Lord.
When you give with a right heart, it stops Jesus and He takes notice. He celebrates your giving when it is done reverently and sacrificially as an act of worship.
Has God Promised to Supply Everyone’s Needs?
Many believers often quote and claim the promise of Philippians 4:19:
“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”
Although God will meet the needs of His people, the context in which this promise was presented is important.
The apostle Paul was writing to the church of Philippi, who had just sent him an extremely large offering for his ministry work to continue.
In response to their sacrificial giving, Paul encouraged them by saying, “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”
Therefore, the promise of God’s abundant supply is made to those who willingly and obediently give. Those who are passionate about giving. Remember, when we are generous with God, God is generous with us.
Questions for Consideration
1. God has much to say about money all throughout His Word. One of the most important verses on the subject is Deuteronomy 8:18. Look up and write out this verse. It reveals the source and purpose of all wealth.
2. Does God determine who gets a little blessing and who gets a big blessing, or do we have a say in how we are blessed? Look up the following scriptures for the answer to this important question.
- Luke 6:38
- 2 Corinthians 9:6
- Galatians 6:7
3. Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). In other words, what you do with your money reveals where your heart is. A grateful heart that is open to God is generous. Be honest with yourself and with God.
What do your finances and your attitude about giving reveal about the condition of your heart? What do your checking and saving accounts reveal about your love for God and your love for His Church?
5. Your obedience in giving is the key to the windows of Heaven. When you aren’t giving, the windows are closed. But when you are giving, the windows of Heaven are opened. Would you say the windows of Heaven are open or closed in your life right now?
If you have not been a giver, why not start today? Begin by taking baby steps and give something to your local church or to a ministry that you believe in. By being obedient and honoring God with your time, talent, possessions and finances, God will honor your faith and begin to bless your life in ways you never dreamed!
Scriptures used are from biblegateway.com and unless otherwise noted, I’m using the New Living Translation (NLT)Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.