May 18, 2013

MinistryCPA Special Topic: God Considers All Acts of Generosity as His Own and as Directed From Him and to Him

Question:

Three Christian teens from a church youth group heard at school one morning that the Lance and Britney Kramer family in their community lost all their possessions in a fire the night before. They began talking about what they could do to help and by the afternoon had gained widespread support from their friends and even from many of the school teachers and staff. They agreed to give every hour of free time in the next seven days to pursuing odd jobs, selling stuff they really could do without, and soliciting donations from people in the community.

It worked! At the end of the week the three teens made a public presentation to the family of money, clothes and furnishings. A lot of people showed up to the apartment building that was the new home of the Kramers; even the local news people were on hand. Lance and Britney and their kids were overwhelmed. One of the teens gave a short speech: “It’s great that we could get so much stuff in so short a time, but we did a lot of work. I, for one, didn’t get much sleep. Fortunately, we can work fast and get others to see things our way. All three of us are glad it’s over, but we’re especially glad that the Kramers can get a big boost in their start to rebuild their lives.” Everyone clapped for the teens. One boy even gave the celebration dance that was his trademark cheer at the school’s athletic events! A lot of good was done, but what is wrong with this scene? What would you change?

Answer:

Our detailed answer below falls into three categories:
  • The three teens in our story are Christians who have the God-given ability to see and understand that He enabled them to gather the gifts that were presented to the Kramers. They did work hard, but God deserves the credit for even that! The opportunity to publicly present the fruits of their labors to others was also an opportunity to give glory and thanksgiving to God. Instead, the accolades were directed upon themselves.
  • Were He to make the presentation, God would claim to have met the Kramers' needs Himself even though everyone in attendance would recognize the effort the teens gave.
  • God would accept the gifts presented as if the teens had given them directly to Him.
1) God’s material provision enables our giving

Whether they be generous gifts to God’s work and His workers, or acts of benevolence toward families such as the Kramers, God considers the actions of His children as His own. As David prepared for the eventual building of the temple by his son, Solomon, both he and the people gave generously. David responded by leading the congregation of Israel in praise to God for His gifts that enable the responsive generosity demonstrated that day by God’s people. 

Wherefore David blessed the Lord before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed be thou, Lord God of Israel our father, for ever and ever. Thine, O Lord is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name. But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee. For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers: our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding. O Lord our God, all this store that we have prepared to build thee an house for thine holy name cometh of thine hand, and is all thine own. I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of mine heart I have willingly offered all these things: and now have I seen with joy thy people, which are present here, to offer willingly unto thee. O Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, our fathers, keep this forever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people, and prepare their heart unto thee (I Chronicles 29.10-18). 

Jesus told His followers, “Freely ye have received, freely give” (Matthew 10.8). He illustrated the principle of giving from what one has bountifully received on two miraculous occasions—first the feeding of the 5,000, then when He fed 4,000. He gave the food to His disciples and they gave to the multitudes, as recorded all six accounts of these events in the Gospels (Matthew 14.19, 15.36; Mark 6.41, 8.6; Luke 9.16; John 6.11).

2) God’s material provisions come directly from Him

God uses His children’s love for Him as a means to provide for His workers. When He spoke with His servants, He unapologetically claimed that He was the direct source of these provisions, even though the material possession came from the sacrifices of the people. In the following excerpts from Numbers 18, God rehearsed to Aaron all that He had given the priests and the Levites: 

This shall be thine of the most holy things, reserved from the fire: every oblation of theirs, every meat offering of theirs, and every sin offering of theirs, and every trespass offering of theirs which they shall render unto me, shall be most holy for thee and for thy sons. And this is thine; the heave offering of their gift, with all the wave offerings of the children of Israel: I have given them unto thee, and to thy sons and to thy daughters with thee. All the best of the oil, and all the best of the wine, and of the wheat, the firstfruits of them which they shall offer unto the LORD, them have I given thee. And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation (Numbers 18.9, 11, 12, 21). 

3) Our giving to others out of God’s material provisions is considered giving directly to Him

Jesus communicated that acts of giving to others’ needs are interpreted by God as intended directly to meet His “needs.” Recorded in Matthew 25, Jesus spoke of a King—Himself at the judgment hall that all mankind will enter as defendants. The King welcomed some into His kingdom and cursed others to everlasting fire. He made His proclamation based on whether they did or did not minister to His personal needs. The King said to the righteous, “For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in.” The King said to the condemned, “For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in.” In the parable, both the generous and the stingy defendants protested that they did not recall a time in their lives when they had opportunities to do these things. The King responded to them both, “Inasmuch as ye have done it (or “done it not”) unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it (or “ye did it not”) unto me.”

Solomon wrote the Proverb: “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again” (Proverbs 19.17). The “loan” is made to God; He promises to repay it!

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