Articles on Giving
One by Stan Hammonds, another authorship is unknown.
For giving in the context of the worship of the local church, click here.
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GIVING GOD YOUR BEST
by Stan Hammonds
A preacher I heard when I was a teenager used to say, “God doesn’t require much from us, just all that we have.” These few words made an impression on me for two reasons. First, we don’t really have anything to offer God. Nothing we give him—our time, our money, our worship—can ever add up to what he has given us, everlasting life. However, it is the second aspect of this statement I would like to look at in this article.
We have to understand that our service to God must come from a spirit of complete devotion. Jesus said in Matthew 22:37, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Every child of God must realize that their life is not their own. Paul put it very well in Galatians 2:20 when he said, “...it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” These two passages are very clear; they are not hard to understand, but what do they mean in practical terms? What does being totally devoted to God really mean?
The space available here is not sufficient to cover this question completely, but one way to look at it is from the aspect of effort level. From a physical standpoint, we know that we must put forth our best effort to succeed in our endeavors. Whether we are talking about schoolwork, athletics, or our jobs, even the very young realize that if you want to be successful, you have to put forth the effort. However, the opposite is also true; a lack of devotion manifests itself in a lack of effort, which results in failure.
I suppose it all comes down to this point, how much effort in service to the Lord is enough. If you are looking for me to provide the answer in this article, you will be disappointed; however, ask yourself the following questions and see what conclusions you reach.
- If I give my boss the same effort I give the Lord in worship, would I ever get a raise or promotion?
- If I miss work as often as I miss worship services, how long will I keep my job?
- If I do homework and study for tests the same way I prepare my bible class lesson, what kind of grades would I earn?
- If every pain or illness keeps me from going to school as it keeps me from doing the work of the Lord, how long will it be before I miss too many days to advance to the next grade level?
- If I put forth the same effort in getting better at sports that I put forth in growing as a Christian, would I ever be a starter?
- If I study my playbook the same way I study God’s word, would I know how to execute the plays called by the coach?
- If my children, spouse, or brethren follow my example in service to God, what kind of Christian will they be?
If you answer these questions honestly, you will not need me or anyone else to tell you how much effort you are giving, or should give, in serving God. You will know that you must give everything. Your motto will become, “Whatever I do, I will do it heartily, as to the Lord...” (Colossians 3:23). Just as athletes, workers, and students have different abilities, every Christian has a different maximum effort level as well. The challenge for each of us is to strive everyday to make sure we are doing everything we can to give God the very best we have. Under the Old Law, everything offered to the Lord had to be the best (Numbers 18:29). Although we don’t offer those types of sacrifices today, we must give Him the best of what we do offer, ourselves (Romans 12:1-2).
GIVING HONOR TO GOD
Honor Jehovah with thy substance, And with the first-fruits of all thine increase:
So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, And thy vats shall overflow with new wine.
1. Honoring God is done with our best-"firstfruits" of increase (best of harvest, because earliest).
2. To honor Him is to increase one's own blessings, as taught in Malachi 3 and 2 Corinthians 9.
3. Here we study some principles related to presenting our best efforts in divine service.
I. Priority of the Kingdom:
The kingdom of God must come first in my life, Matthew 6:33. Whatever God requires must receive the priority demanded by His person, character and worthiness. If spiritual matters are more important than physical ones, then my approach (attitude, manner) to them must also receive priority.
II. Sanctification to God:
My life must be dedicated to Him, Romans 12:1,2. Because God's mercy is the motivating factor, I should desire to "present" it to Him. Only His standards apply; they alone are holy and acceptable.
III. Voluntary Effort:
There must be first a willing mind, 2 Corinthians 8:12; Psalms 110:3. In the earlier verses, Paul showed how the Macedonian Christians had shown their willingness-abounding liberality out of deep poverty, giving beyond their power, first gave selves to the Lord. Paul's appeal was to abound in this grace as in others, and thereby measure of the sincerity of their love in reflecting Christ's self-sacrifice.
IV. Best to God:
Nothing defiled or tainted pertained to divine service, Leviticus 22:21, 25, 32. God must be hallowed (treated as holy, reverend) among His people by their acceptable offerings.
V. Human standards condemn some efforts:
God is worthy of at least as much honor as the governor, Malachi 1:6-8. If we would not think of treating our human superiors in such a shoddy way, then we ought not to
satisfy ourselves with such a level of divine service. Apply to attitude, diligence, punctuality, zeal, attire, etc.
VI. Personal Investment:
I should never offer to God something that I have not personally sacrificed, 2 Samuel 24:24. What I have received and would otherwise use, can be a sacrifice to God. What I would relegate to the trash heap (time, money, possession, effort), I should not consider as sacrifice.
VII. Reverence Due to God:
To be in God's presence is special, requiring special preparation, Exodus 3:5; 1 Peter 2:5. Christians are God's holy priesthood, holy nation, and special people, that they might show forth His excellencies. In God's instructions to His O.T. priests, the Lord ordered special garments and observance to prepare themselves and the sacrifices for offering to Him. Unconsidered worship and unkempt appearance, fit for the ball field or yard work, does not belong in divine service. While God has given no uniform, the principles here considered show that we ought to think higher of Him than to approach Him with inferior efforts and in shabby, ragged, or showy, or indecent clothing, when we can do better.
Some Common Practices Failing to Meet the Standard of Our Best:
- Leaving decisions about time and money given to the Lord until little of either remains: This results in God getting the leftovers, not our best.
- An indifferent approach to the service of God, because of the failure to dedicate oneself to Him in the spirit of self-sacrifice: To many, religion is what we can get, not what we can give to the Lord.
- The necessity of constant reminding coaxing, and persuading, because one's neglect of the voluntary spirit that ought to characterize all under Christ's reign: Too much elders' and preachers' attention is consumed by a small segment of unconverted people in local churches.
- Wearing ourselves out on Saturday, so that we have little stamina or steadfastness left for spiritual pursuits on the Lord's Day: The practice of many Christians in bygone years, as they used Saturday, and especially Saturday night, to prepare clothes, shoes, meals, and themselves for that special occasion of worship, probably ought to be revived in many homes.
- Let us not forget that it is the Lord's Day. Too many view Sunday as just another day, and its events as commonplace.
- Viewing the public services of the congregation as mundane, trivial events: lukewarm attitudes, shabby dress, late arrival, and half-hearted worship betray the thinking that an occasion of worship is not so special.
- Misunderstanding worship as a time of performance, entertainment, or inferior endeavor: In view of the reverence that God is due and our gladness in His august presence, anything less than our best degrades God, belittles fellow saints, reflects poorly on ourselves, and denigrates the awe and dignity of the occasion.
What are the conditions of salvation given by Jesus?
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