Scott Gage

PO Box 3425
Fayetteville, AR 72702



November/December Issue 2007 - Volume 26   Number 6

Why Do We Give?

“I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35

Tim Hartford, columnist for Financial Times, states, “The closer you look at charitable giving, the less charitable it appears to be.” A study of door-to-door fund-raising campaigns found that organizations earned far more by selling lottery tickets than by asking for donations. Hartford comments, “This hardly suggests a world populated by altruists seeking to do the maximum good with their charitable cash.”  It seems that, at least for some people, it is a something-for-me/something-for-you approach to giving.  The admonition that Jesus offers about charitable deeds in Matthew 6 indicates that some of the rich and famous in His day had ulterior motives in their giving. When we give our contributions at church are we expecting something in return? There seems to be a big difference in the approach that charitable organizations make as opposed to the approach the church makes to donors. While the charities often entice people with merchandise or giveaways, the church appeals more to our sense of duty and love. There is a difference in a free-will offering and a fundraiser.  Jesus admonishes us to make a spiritual sacrifice.

I ran across this story at justgive.org about a modern-day widow’s mite. Mary Ann “Mother” Wright of Oakland, California was the recipient of the 2005 Caring Institute Award for a work she began to feed the poor. Mother Wright, now age 84, believes she is on a God-given mission to feed the hungry. Some 21 years ago she heard a voice in the night which motivated her to give all of her $236 Social Security check to provide Thanksgiving dinner for 300 homeless people in Oakland, California. She has been doing this ever since. Seeing her dedication, others came to her aid. A formal organization was born which feeds about 450 people a day and more recently sends food to other needy people around the world.

"Caring is sharing. Love is the key word in life; it runs from heart-to-heart and breath-to-breath. Thinking of others more than you do yourself. That's caring and sharing for others."
Mother Wright

Jesus points out to his disciples that God is more concerned with the giver than He is with the gift. No doubt many of the rich had given far larger sums of money than the poor widow Jesus pointed out to His disciples, but none of them impressed the Lord as she did. We are reminded in this story that if we are faithful with a little we will likely be faithful with much.  If we are not faithful with a little, then we aren’t likely to be faithful in our giving no matter how much the Lord gives us.

In this issue Dennis Gage and Tom Bennett explore The Widow’s Mite and Charitable Deeds.



"The Widows Mite"

“Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.’”     Mark 12:41-44

In this passage in Mark, Jesus is dealing with a part of our service to Him and His Kingdom that we would probably rather not have brought to our attention. In this passage we are brought face to face with our responsibility of giving. While it is something we might rather not look at, before we turn away, let us notice some much needed teaching from God's Word concerning our giving.

God Himself set the example of this principle of giving. Jn.3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” God has set the example by giving the supreme gift. No matter what we might give back to God, we will never be able to match the gift that God has given. Jesus followed this example when He came to the earth. In Jn.10:17-18 Jesus said that He would lay His life down willingly. No man, or group of men, no power on this earth, could take the life of Christ. Jesus very plainly said that He was giving His life by His own choice. No matter how much we give, we will never be able to match the gift that Christ has given to us!

It might then seem logical to the mind of man to say, “If I cannot match the gift that God and Christ has given for me, then why bother to give back at all?” God has always expected His people to be a giving people. Not only does God expect His people to have a giving heart, but also God expects us to give the best we have, and give willingly! In Leviticus 1:1-11 Moses instructs the people of God concerning their sacrifice, or their giving back to God. Notice that God requires of His people the BEST of their flocks and herds, or whatever they offer.

While I realize the scriptures we have just noticed are found in the Old Testament, we serve the same God that still expects us to give back to Him and to give the best we have willingly. The commands concerning our giving contained in the New Testament instruct us that our motive in giving must be love. In fact, Paul tells the Corinthian brethren that even if he gave his body to be burned, or bestowed all his goods to feed the poor, and wasn't motivated by love it wouldn't profit him anything (1 Cor.13:3). Clearly our giving must first of all be a gift of love. And why would we expect anything else as our motive. Remember again the words of Christ in Jn.3:16,”For God so loved, that He gave His only begotten Son.”

Paul tells us that our giving must be something that we have given some serious thought and planning to, and that we do so willingly and cheerfully (2 Cor.9:7). Paul's instruction to the Corinthians is in regard to the giving of their money. We are no longer under the Old Law of the tithe, a law that demanded one-tenth. Now we are to give back to God and Christ as they have, through example, given to us. We are to give willingly and through love.

As we give through love, our gift should be a sacrifice to God. God has never been happy to receive just what we have left over, but rather He asks we put Him first. This may mean that we have to deprive ourselves of things we might want. We in America have been blessed abundantly. It is no wonder that when I travel to India or Mexico I find many people in both of these countries who feel that everyone in America is a millionaire. While we might not consider ourselves rich, compared with other nations we are blessed abundantly. Christ says in Lk.12:48, “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required, and to him to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” Because of the abundance of our living we are required to return much.

As I stated in the beginning of this article, many times we don't like to be reminded of our responsibility to give back to God. I realize our whole life should be a living sacrifice (Rom.12:1-2). There are too many areas of our giving to discuss in one writing. We are looking at the text Mk.12:41-44 and noticing the giving of our temporal means, our money.

Many times when we begin to talk about giving back our money to Christ and His Kingdom, we without fail begin to talk about how little money we have. We are quick to say how much we would do if we only had more money to do it with. I am reminded of a statement I once read, I can't remember the author, but the statement is, “It's not what you would do with millions, if riches should be your lot. It's what you're doing Brother, with the dollar and quarter you've got.” I think the author of this statement was influenced by a statement Jesus made in Lk.16:10, “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.”  Jesus simply tells us if we are not faithful in our giving back to Him in what we have, no matter how little it might seem, we would not be faithful in giving back to Him no matter how much we might have been blessed with.

Have we ever talked about or dreamed about church buildings we would build, how deeply we would be involved in mission work, how much we would do to benefit The Kingdom Of God, if only we had more money. Before we decide how much we would do if we only had more money, we need to look and see what we are doing with the money we have. According to Jesus' statement in Lk.16:10, if we are not faithfully using what we have right now, we wouldn't do any more no matter how much we might have. It's not what we would do with millions, but what we are doing with the dollar and quarter we have been given.

Coming back to our text in Mk.12:41-44, Jesus finds favor with this widow and her gift. He does not find favor because her gift was the largest amount given, but because she gave all that she had. She was being faithful over the little she had been given. What a powerful example for us today in what we give back to the Lord. This widow gave out of love, willingly, being faithful in what she had.

May God Bless and strengthen us all in what we return to Him. May our gift be given In Love, and given Willingly, Being Faithful with what God has given us!!

Dennis Gage

Benton, Arkansas


"Charitable Deeds"

"Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly."    Matthew 6:1-4

One morning a preacher announced that next Sunday's message would be on the subject of giving.  A week later while en-route to services a Dad gave his daughter one quarter and a dollar, and told her that after the sermon she was to give what she thought would best serve the Lord. As they drove home after morning services the Dad said, "Which one did you give?"  The girl said, "I gave the quarter."  The Dad said, "Why?"  She said, "Well, the preacher said at the end of his sermon to be a cheerful giver, and I knew if I gave the dollar instead of the quarter that I wouldn't be very cheerful."

We may chuckle at the reasoning of the little girl, but money sometimes becomes all too important to us doesn't it?  Throughout God's word we read many stories of man and his possessions, and much of the time it deals with our struggles on how we see fit to use what God has blessed us with. 

Much of the time I struggle with the topic of my sermon, but in reading New-Testament scripture it becomes obvious that Jesus knew just how to prick man's conscience.  In Matthew, Mark, and Luke one out of every six verses deals with money, and out of the twenty-nine parables Jesus taught, sixteen deal with a person and his money. One such admonition is found in Matthew 6:1-4.

Giving is a great duty that all children of God must abound in according to their ability.  It seems that, at least for some people, it is a something-for-me/something-for-you approach to their giving.  The admonition Jesus offers if Matt. 6 indicates that some of the rich and famous of his day had ulterior motives in their giving.  Surely the hypocrites of Jesus day did practice this duty, but it was not out of obedience to God or love to fellow man. They gave in pride, satisfying their own egos, and not out of compassion.  Simply put, their giving was purely for show. The hypocrites of Jesus' day wanted to be seen as good men, so they could build up respect with the people, and in return get a great deal more than they actually gave.  More than likely collections would be taken up while in their synagogues to give to the poor and needy that were on the streets.  It was in these public settings that they chose to do their charitable deeds.  There is nothing wrong with giving when men see us, but we should never give that men may see us.  They should have done these works because they were good, not to give themselves a good name.  Many of the so-called most religious of Jesus day had no idea of the real joy that giving can bring, the joy that comes when we are not seeking some reward, merit, or favor.

Notice what Christ says to these people, "Verily I say unto you, they have their reward."  This is not something he is promising these people.  They were given a big, public pat on the back from those for whom the good deed was done as well as other onlookers, and that was all they wanted to begin with.  There is no mention of any reward laid up for them in the future.  In sharp contrast we find that rewards the godly have in this life are but a partial payment of things to come.  Our giving cheerfully and willingly has an incredible promise attached.  Paul told the Brethren at Corinth in 2 Corinthians 9:8 about the promise.  "And God who is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you always having all sufficiency in all things, have an abundance for every good work."  Paul tells them that God had supplied them bountifully, so that they could "abound to every good work."  The promise was not necessarily that they would have more money, but certainly a promise of more abundant blessings.   

During the years I have been preaching it has been my privilege and my joy to teach and encourage on the subject of giving our money to the Lord.  It's been very rewarding to see individual growth in giving.  I believe that of all the people in history, those of us today are blessed beyond what is deserved and with these great blessings come many opportunities.  How do we value the blessings we have received in Christ, and is our giving consistent with these blessings?  One thing is for certain; if we love greatly, we will give greatly.  It is possible for us to give without loving, and impossible to truly love without giving.  It should bring us inner joy when we give back to the Lord, but we must always remember, no matter how much we give we will never out give God!  Many times before we pass the offering tray on Sunday we admonish the Saints to give as " God has prospered us."  You can rest assured that God knows whether or not our giving represents His prospering of us! 

I realize there must be some planning and setting of priorities in our households.  We must provide for life's necessities such as shelter, food, clothing, etc.  Where in our planning do we think of God?  Proverbs 3:9 says, "Honor the Lord with your possessions, And with the first fruits of all your increase."   Does "first fruits" suggest something about priority?  Planning may sometimes involve eliminating.  I have an idea that most families in America could so some eliminating without hurting a thing.  Does the word "sacrifice" ever come into view in our giving?  I have a strong suspicion most of us do not know what our potential in giving really is.  Our children need to be a part of the giving.  They need to hear us as parents discussing and praying about how great giving might impact the family.  They can tell if we are giving "as we purpose in our heart," which involves more than just a hurried hunt through our wallet, or scribbling a check at the last minute. 

My wife and I will occasionally give our daughters what I refer to as the adversity speech, telling them that life is not always perfect.  The more I reflect on it maybe we should be warning them of prosperity.  Few people can live in the lap of luxury and maintain their moral balance.  Prosperity can cause us to forget or even ignore the fact that every good thing comes from God and that our abundance should cause us to be more benevolent to the needs of others. When Jesus told the story about the rich farmer in Luke 12, he ends the story by telling us who the truly rich are.  The truly rich are those rich toward God.  Truly prosperous are the children of God, who have been born into God's family through baptism (Gal 3:27).  In a right relationship with God, we recognize all the good things in life are blessings from the heavenly Father, blessings that are not to be selfishly enjoyed but shared in service to God and others. 

Brethren are we truly laying up for ourselves treasures in heaven?  Are we being good stewards with that which God has blessed us?  Are we doing charitable deeds known only to the Father?  Our good deeds may not always be out in the open, but one day the reward will be, and that will be worth the wait!  God Bless.

Tom Bennett

Spearsville, Louisiana

Grant us, then the grace for giving

With a spirit large and free,

That our life and all our living

We may consecrate to Thee.