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The Dynamics of Giving

Many Christians give money to support missions and other Christian organizations, but they do not understand the spiritual dynamics of giving. The effectiveness of these gifts depends, not at all on the amount of money given, but on the heart of the giver.

I know of a Christian millionaire who wants to train Christians in business, so that they will make billions of dollars to support world evangelism. According to him, this will make possible the complete evangelization of the Muslim world.  It may well be that God has called him to raise money for the Kingdom.  However  I fear that he too has misunderstood the spiritual dynamics of giving.    All the money in the world will not make a particle of difference.  What is needed is not more money, but more heart.

Jesus used five loaves and two fish to feed over five thousand.  If there were five hundred loaves and two hundred fish, and they gave Him all but one of the loaves, it would not have been enough.  But since they gave Him all they had, it was enough.    Why do we fail to understand this?

Why do Christians need to make more money in order to give?  What’s preventing Christians from giving money now?  The answer, pure and simple, is -- worldly values.  Christians look to the world for their standard of living, they want all the perks and luxuries that nonbelievers have.  Christians want to give from their abundance, and not  sacrificially.  Actually, the more money we make, even if we give proportionately the less our contribution actually matters (2 Cor. 8:12).   Are we so dull, that we forget the parable of the widow whose two pennies counted more for the kingdom than the Pharisees’ bags of gold? The Pharisees’ money build Herod’s great temple – which was destroyed within five years of its completion (Luke 21:5-6).  Even Solomon’s temple, built with over a hundred million pounds of Israel’s excess gold and silver (1 Chronicles 22:14),  was looted and stripped within a generation (1 Kings 14:25-26).  Why?  Because Solomon and the Israelites went half and half – half for God, and half for themselves. Solomon’s own palace was over twice the size of the Temple, and just as magnificent -- and he filled it with idolatrous wives who turned his heart away from God (1 Kings 11:1-13).  Because Solomon and the Israelites honored God halfway, God split Israel in half.  So Israel’s power was broken, and they lost all.

God does not need Christians to make more money for Him.  American Christians alone already make more than enough money to bankroll all the worthwhile Christian outreaches throughout the world.  The real need is for Christians  to care more for others in need and be satisfied with less for themselves (1 Tim. 6:6-10).  Instead of casting envious eyes on their wealthy neighbors, they should turn their eyes towards their brothers and sisters in poverty (Gal. 2:10).

It doesn’t matter how much money Christians give – if they insist on preserving their worldly values,  their gifts are rendered ineffective.  No Christian organization can rise above the spiritual level of its supporters.  Lukewarmness breeds lukewarmness.  Worldly values propagate themselves, even through “Christian” evangelism.  The history of missions amply bears this out.  Western missions in China produced “rice Christians”, who vanished like smoke as soon as the rice was gone.  On the other hand in the early 1900’s, 125 native evangelists went out to the field in South Africa.  In one year, 12 died, plus 16 wives and children, through deprivation and hardship because they lacked financial support (http://home.swipnet.se/~w-93281/enlake.htm).  However, they laid the foundation for several church movements in southern Africa, which today collectively number over 6 million adherents.

We think we have to raise money and support our projects just as the world does.  We are like Peter, the able and experienced fisherman, working all night with skill and perseverance, and catching nothing.  When will we learn that we are not to do things the world’s way?  Instead of working hard, we should be watching and waiting attentively in prayer.  Then we will hear Him when He tells us, “Cast the net out of the other side of the boat”! (Luke 5:4-6)

Prayer:   Father, please show us how much we need to give, for our own sakes let alone others' benefit. I pray in the name of Jesus Your Son, who gave for us more than we can possibly imagine.

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Last Revised: September 5, 2002

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