As people everywhere experience the ups and downs of the economy, the subject of our giving to God may seem badly timed.  But not really. Consider the words of Haggai the prophet: “Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages, earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes." (Haggai 1:5-6)     You see, our failure to give to God actually leads to disaster. On the other hand, our giving to God is actually the most prudent investment one will ever make. For no one can out give God. God will not be a debtor to any man.

Consider when Jesus borrowed Peter's boat to preach from. After He was through, He told Peter to "launch out into the deep and let down your nets..." They hauled in so many fish their nets began to break and their boat began to sink (Luke 5:1-7)! You just can't out give God! God wants His people to give. For in giving they become more God-like. "For God so loved the world, that He gave..." As we give, we become more like our Father.

As we give, we give away a part of our selfishness. As we give, our heart is more closely knit with God. Jesus said, "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Luke 12:34)" If your treasure is in God and God's work, then that's where your heart will be.

Consider four degrees of Biblical giving
Systematic Giving
 "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come." (1 Cor 16:2)    Every Christian is to come each Sunday already prepared to give. It is to be according to how God has prospered him. Now, in the Old Testament we are told that means tithing, or giving ten percent of our weekly income.

Spontaneous Giving
This degree of giving deals with our giving to God above and beyond the tithe as a spontaneous expression of our appreciation and devotion to Him. It's an act of worship and praise. Mary Magdalene gave in this way when she anointed the head of Jesus with very costly ointment (Matthew 26:6-13). The disciples said, "What purpose is this waste?" Hold on! Even though the ointment was worth a year's salary, it wasn't waste. Nothing given to Jesus is ever a waste. Yet, spontaneous giving is often viewed by the world as being a waste or as being foolish. But that's not the way our Lord Jesus views it.

Sacrificial Giving
This is giving to the point of it really hurting. Few of us know sacrificial giving; but those who have given sacrificially know the truth of Jesus' words, "It is more blessed to give than receive (Acts 20:35)." Consider David whom Scripture declares was, "A man after God's own heart. (Acts 13:22)." In giving to the Lord he declared: "Neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing." 
Spiritual Giving
The deepest level of giving is actually a spiritual gift listed in Romans 12 as the Gift of Giving. This is when you are used by God in making money to give back to the work and purposes of God. Also, spiritual giving deals with praying money in for the purpose of giving it out. And you simply become a channel through which God's riches flow.

In all your giving, don't give begrudgingly or half-heartedly. God does not need your money. He tells us to give for our blessing, maturity, and prosperity. If you can't give happily, don't give at all, for "The Lord loves a cheerful giver." (2 Cor 9:7)

Reprinted January 22, 2012