BAYTOWN, TX – There are many Christians and, not to mention the general public, who do not believe in giving in church or any place else. Many people get upset when they see the offering plate come around in church. Many believe that the pastor is pocketing all of the money and using it to live a lavish life style. And in some churches this may be true. However, I believe it is important to pray and ask God where you should be giving your good hard earned money. After all it is the Lord who has blessed you with the means to have that money and, to be able to make a living. And if you are blessed by God you ought to want to give to God.
It is important to be a giver. Your attitude needs to be one of worship any time you give because ultimately you are giving to God. In the book of acts we find that God considers your giving to other people and offering to Him.
In Caesarea there lived a Roman army officer named Cornelius, who was a captain of the Italian Regiment. He was a devout, God-fearing man, as was everyone in his household. He gave generously to the poor and prayed regularly to God. One afternoon about three o’clock, he had a vision in which he saw an angel of God coming toward him. “Cornelius!” the angel said. Cornelius stared at him in terror. “What is it, sir?” he asked the angel. And the angel replied, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have been received by God as an offering!” (Acts 10:1-4)
In the rest of the passage the angel instructs Cornelius to summon Simon Peter, who was staying in a town called Joppa near by. When Peter came he gave Cornelius and his household the message of salvation and they all got saved and filled with the Holy Spirit.
The thing I want to point out is that the angel told Cornelius that his prayers and gifts to the poor had been received by God and, He had received them as offerings. This is what happens when you give to with a right heart. However many people don’t understand giving. All they can think about is what the preacher is doing with the money. Though it is true that some preachers and “churches” abuse the giving of the people, many people simply use this as an excuse to be selfish.
Giving Is An Important Part Of The Believer’s Life
Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. (Luke 6:38)
Jesus says give and it will be given to you. How ever you give to people will be the way that people give to you. Jesus also said, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” in the 7th chapter of Matthew. And He began in that chapter by saying, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”
Does anyone see a pattern here? What you do in your life determines how your life plays out. How you treat other people is how you will be treated. If not by the people who surround you then, by God. If you are judgmental of others you will be judged. If you treat others well you will be treated well. If you give you will be given to. What you put out is what you get back. If not in this life then, in the life to come. This is a principle. If you want to live your life to please God then remember that God sees your actions and responds accordingly. In Cornelius’ case his prayers and giving to the poor resulted in His entire household receiving salvation.
The scripture from Acts also says that Cornelius’ prayer was received as an offering to God. As a believer you are supposed to have a relationship with the Lord. If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah, and that He died for your sin, then you have been born again. You have had a spiritual rebirth into God’s family.
Prayer is how we communicate with the Lord. Family members who don’t talk to one another grow distant. If you are married to someone and you never talk to them you grow apart. If you grow apart you stop doing things with each other. Then you will grow even farther apart. Eventually you become like two strangers living in the same house. The same is true in your relationship with the Lord.
In prayer you express your joy, concerns, petitions, and praises. You can also experience the joy of the Lord and His acceptance of you as one of His own. His love for you, and, His concerns about your life and the people in it can be expressed to you in prayer. In prayer God may instruct you in whom to give something or, to give them a message or, even lay hands on them and pray for a healing which they need. Your obedience in these things is one of the ways in which God is able to interact with the people He loves. He takes care of them through your obedience, through your giving, and through your prayer.
Our Life As An Offering
The bible describes Cornelius as a God-fearing man who spent much time in prayer and gave generously to the poor. In God’s eyes this is seen as a sacrifice and offering. Without knowing it Cornelius followed a pattern set by Jesus. When Jesus came, He came as the lamb of God determined to give His life as a sacrifice for our sin. It was the ultimate sacrifice. Jesus said Himself, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13) He sacrificed himself for all of us. God received His sacrifice and gives those of us who believe in His Son eternal life as a result.
Before Cornelius even knew the story of the Son of God He was already giving to the poor out of devotion to God. Just as through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, God gives to us, He was able to give to the poor through the sacrificial giving of Cornelius. Cornelius had a right heart within him. He feared God and as a result he worshiped God by giving.
Are you worshiping the God you supposedly believe in. Or are you judging the churches and ministers and using it as an excuse not to give to the Lord. “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”
Don’t judge – Pray! Find out from God how you should give and to whom you should give. When you stand in front of the judgment seat of Christ one day soon the excuse that, the preachers and churches were dishonest and hypocrites, will not fly. There are many places and and peoples to whom you can give.
I leave you with this warning from the Lord Jesus Himself.
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides [his] sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.
Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I [was] naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed [You], or thirsty and give [You] drink? When did we see You a stranger and take [You] in, or naked and clothe [You]? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did [it] to one of the least of these My brethren, you did [it] to Me.’
“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink;
I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’
“Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do [it] to one of the least of these, you did not do [it] to Me.’
And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”