Suffering, often produces selfishness, for too often, we take special care of ourselves and forget others. Not so with these Christians. They experienced great trials and deep poverty, but this double yoke could not cramp their large-hearjjjjjjjjjjj
The way they gave is also notable. “And this they did,” says 2 Corinthians 8:5, “not as we hoped, but first gave their ownselves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.
Notice the sequence. The first step in Christian giving is not your money, but you! Then sharing what you have will follow. The Dead Sea is a dead sea because it continually receives and never gives.
THE TITHE. But some may ask, “What about the tithe?” The tithe, according to the Bible, is one-tenth of a man’s possessions. People often dismiss tithing with the casual remark, “We are not under the law, but grace.”
This statement is true, but remember, the Gospel of Grace always goes beyond the Law. The Law declares, “Thou shalt not kill,” but the Gospel says, “Thou shalt not hate,” and even more, “Thou shalt love.”
The Law of Moses demanded one-seventh of the individual’s time and one-tenth of his income for God. That was the minimum. The tithe is the starting place, not the goal. Likewise today, the tithe is a startinig place, not the goal. The Gospel of grace goes beyond the tithe.
Every new convert will want to do, under grace, at least what was required under the Law. Dr. Herschel Hobbs has said, “The nine-tenths prove man’s love, but the one-tenth tests man’s legal obedience.” Make your money immortal: “Lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven” (Matthew 6:20).
Giving should also be systematic. First Corinthians 16:2 says, “Upon the first day of the week, let everyone of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him.” At the very beginning of your Christian life, acquire the habit of regular giving.
In addition to giving systematically, we should give cheerfully. To have part in God’s program is a happy privilege. Paul puts it this way in 2 Corinthians 9:7, “Every man, according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”
When we come to the end of our life, the question will be, “How much have you given?” Not, “How much have you gotten?”
It will be, “How much have you sacrificed?” Not, “How much have you saved?” We are to be producers rather than parasites, givers rather than getters.