I certainly am not well-off. I am currently a full-time student, barely having to pay off my tuition fees and my living cost. Yet, gratefully, the Lord has provided me with a part time position where I am able to make just enough money to live through week by week.
Through my relative deficiency, the Lord has taught me how to be fully content in him and to utterly rely upon him, learning to cast my worries upon him no matter how dubious the circumstances might seem to be.
One other valuable lesson that the Lord has taught and trained me over my relatively short needy years is to give to others generously with abundant gladness.
The gift of giving
To my surprise, I seldomly find Christians who did not know that giving is actually one of the spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit that is mentioned in the bible:
“Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Romans, chapter 12, verses 6 to 8).
We are to exercise our gifts for the glory of God and the edification of the church, and to go even further, we ought to cultivate our gifts so that we actually grow and fan into flame the good gifts that the Lord has granted us.
Though we ought to primarily focus on our gifts, it doesn’t mean that we are excused in neglecting other areas where we are not supposedly gifted. Though I may not have the gift of giving, it doesn’t mean I am alleviated from my obligation to give generously when provided with a God-given opportunity.
Emulate the Macedonians
When we are not as well off, we tend to excuse ourselves from giving by justifying ourselves through listing all the things that we are already lacking in our needy lives. However, we ought to take a lesson from what the Macedonians did in spite of their poverty:
“And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.” (2 Corinthians, chapter 8, verses 1 to 3).
The Macedonian church was in a seriously destitute situation themselves, but yet they had an overwhelming heart towards the suffering church of Jerusalem.
Though they were financially poor, they were always spiritually rich; though they lacked much food to eat, they always had abundant food to eat, that of which Jesus himself feasted upon – My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work (John, chapter 4, verse 34).
It is good to be wise and calculative, being watchful of how much you spend in giving to others, especially when you yourself already lack in providing for yourself. However, sometimes we might only be able to experience the miracle of God’s supplication only when we give out of faith.
The Macedonians gave beyond their ability, not because they were reckless in character, but rather because they fully trusted in the good sovereign Lord that he would surely supply and fill up all that they need.
Tithe is not enough
Though I believe tithing is not mandatory since the beginning of the New Covenant, I still practice it for the sake of my spiritual discipline.
However, though I put aside a tenth of my earnings for the Lord, I constantly remind myself that it is not only this tenth that is God’s, but in fact all of my earnings are God’s, and that I ought to be a faithful steward of the resources that he hath given me to use it all for his glory.
Giving ought to be a subject of spiritual discipline and sanctification. We ought to discipline our giving so that it becomes a lifestyle, and we ought to grow in our gladness and joy when we are giving to others, even in our own financial deficiency.I pray that the Lord will grant us all an opportunity to give self-sacrificially, and that we will not deny or reject such divine opportunity – and through obedience, that we will all become like the Macedonian church, setting an example for others in how to appropriately spend out money for the glory of God.
Richard Kwon is from Auckland, a regular lay person who just loves the Lord.