Acts 21:24: take these men and purify yourself along with them and pay their expenses, so that they may shave their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself also live in observance of the law. (ESV)
What you give to is an indication of what you support, what you approve of. So the Jews who were concerned about the reputation that Paul had acquired for himself as an oppose of the continued observance of the Law of Moses, said that in order for him to declare publicly that he, he was urged to go to the temple to perform some ritual of purification in Jerusalem paying the expenses of some who also were doing the same thing. Paying for them, therefore, shows that he was not opposed to it, but supports the Law of Moses fully. (We all know that he supports it but in a more enlightened way than his opposes). Though that rendezvous ended in a misadventure, we can learn some lessons about giving from it, like the fact that giving shows what you support (Acts 21:15-40).
The put their money where their mouth is, so to speak. They were not supposed to say the ministry of Jesus was impactful, giving the testimony but to act that way in their giving. Giving is also an expression of where your trust lies. When Elijah told a widow to provide for him first saying that the little she wanted to eat will now become multiplied, she acted on it because she believed. It would not have made any meaning if she has refused to give out while affirming that she believed the word (1Kings 17:8-16).
Giving is an expression not just of generosity but also of investment. That widow traded her “not enough” for more than enough and was used to provide for Elijah in that period of famine.
Giving is a statement of commitment and partnership. The women who supported the ministry of Jesus wanted to see him supplied for in his mission on the earth. As there share in the task, they will also share in the reward. So giving is also an investment because of the reward expected.
Jesus said if we give it shall be given to us (Luke 6:38). That is the concept of investment. He did not shy away from talking about money but warned against covetousness (Luke 12:13-15), warned against making money god in our lives (Luke 16:10-15).
He said that we cannot serve money and God at the same time. We of this generation need to have that impressed on us because there is a sense that seems to show that money is everything, even in the church.
Some people are sold as slaves under money. They are imprisoned by it, they cannot think except it is coloured by money consideration. Their service to God is directed by the availability of money or otherwise. They cannot say like Paul: I know how to abound and how to abase (Philippians 4:12).
Their advice is always with an eye on the money angle. While Jesus talked about sacrifice and how that is the foundation of his kingdom, these people think only about their pocket. They are surprised at those who do not think like they do, they measure their self-worth based on their bank balance and are full of self-glorification, or mortification, based on the circumstances.
Paul warned against the desire to be rich, saying that is a gateway to being pierced by all manner of sorrows (1Timothy 6:9-11). What you can give, without murmuring about it, reveals the extent to which you are not in bondage to money.
But God gave his all by giving his son (Romans 8:32). He is the epitome of generosity, and we should follow his example. As you have been empowered financially you should also empower others (1Timothy 6:17). We should look beyond our present needs to the future reward in giving to others.
Jesus said that it is more blessed to give than to receive. But it is a lie to think that all there is to give is money. That is the delusion of those who are in bondage to money. You cannot give their time, energy or deploy your skill for God because everything is devoted to personal financial fulfilment.
What you can invest goes beyond money. Peter, talking about spiritual service, said that those who “speak” should do so as the oracle of God and those who “serve” with the ability that God gives (1Peter 5:10-11). There is always something you can give. You can give a word of advice, you can give your “presence” as you visit those who are lonely, the rejects of the society.
Jesus had givers all around him. As mentioned before, there were certain women who supplied him with their finances. Also, there was a man who gave Jesus the upper room to use together with his 12 apostles for his last Passover meal with his disciples (Mark 14:14), and one who gave him a donkey to ride on into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-3). There was Joseph the Arimathea who gave him his grave (Matthew 27:59-60). There were the women who came with spices to apply to his body on the third day after his death and burial, not realising that he had risen (Mark 16:1).
There is the woman who poured expensive oil poured on his body before his death (Mark 14:1-9). It cost a year’s wages but it was an expression of a heart full of love for Jesus and as reward he said the woman will be one of the most popular of all times, saying that everywhere the gospel is preached, we will talk about her and what she did for Jesus.
She became a standard of what generosity to Jesus should be. She was extravagant, but in the right direction, with Jesus being the focus. And the bible says that God will be unrighteousness if he does not reward us, for the way we have poured out ourselves to bless others (Hebrews 6:10).
The woman poured herself out on Jesus to honour him. The alabaster bottle was broken, and the content poured on Jesus. The point is that both the container and the content are all for Jesus. That was total abandonment, nothing was held back. It was for Jesus.
And the action did not go unnoticed either by Jesus or by the onlookers who set out to criticise her. They did not feel Jesus was worth her sacrifice. Their jaundiced view of Jesus was reflected in their jaundiced view of giving to him.
But the woman by her generosity had more insight into the personality of Jesus than they do even through some walked with Jesus. Her perception spurred her to go extraordinary length in giving to Jesus. She gave with humility, not thinking she was doing something special. She had to push through other people’s misunderstanding of her action, to express her heart of gratitude. True giving to God captures the gratitude in our heart. We do not given with a sense of achievement, but of appreciation to God.
What you see determines how you give. How you see Jesus determines how you will seek to connect with him, what you will want to do for him.
By giving to others we are bound to receive back, but giving to the cause of Jesus commands a whole new level of reward. It has eternal dimension of reward because it is for the cause of the eternal one.
The bible talked about the reward that is determined by God for us when we serve his cause, no such reward is promised for other kinds of giving, expect that if we give, men will also pour back into our bosom. There is also the sense that if we give to the poor we lend to the Lord (Proverbs 19:17), but that does not still capture the giving in the context of the church of Jesus and her operations on the earth. For that there is reward of eternal dimension.
Just as the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and that attracts an eternal consequence because the sin is against God, acts of giving to God similarly has eternal consequences. Jesus told Paul that he was persecuting him, when he was persecuting the church, so what do you think you are doing when you give to the work that bears the name of Christ on the earth? You are giving to Christ and that is no mean thing.
God talking about his children, said that he who touches them, touches the apple of his eyes (Zechariah 2:8). What about those who blesses them, he said they will be blessed.
The point I am making is, while other contexts of giving are good and even required, like supporting your family (1Timothy 5:8), giving for the cause of God is another level altogether and attracts blessing, multiplied dividends, on earth and in heaven.
Paul said that if only on this earth we have hope then we are of all men most miserable (1Corinthians 15:19). The law of giving operates for all men on the earth, but when a child of God gives to his work, then the reward comes with an eternal edge, fully maturing at the coming of the Lord Jesus the second time, who said: I am coming soon, and my reward is with him, to give every man according to his works (Revelation 22:12). It could not be clearer than that.
Remember that there is the judgment seat of Christ in which we will receive the reward of what we did in the flesh (2Corinthians 5:10). And that justice will be detailed.
[Get free eBook titled “3 dimensions of the Word” from greatlightbooks.wordpress.com]
- Who Carries Your Load? (pureglory.net)
- Day of Pentecost – The Epistles Passage (asimpledesire.wordpress.com)
- FYI: Philly Jesus Has Just Started A GoFundMe Account For, Well, Whatever It Is Exactly That He Does (philebrity.com)
- May 4. Jesus Continues Through Galilee (fellowshiproom.org)
- A Devotional for Pastors and Leaders of Churches: The Journey Home (theophilusdevos.com)
- Why Did Jesus Ascend? (andrewjware.com)
- Holy Spirit (genesisone.wordpress.com)