Bernard Madoff swindled 65 billion dollars from retirees, friends, family, and celebrities like Steven Spiellberg. But as Cal Thomas observed, “It takes two to tango…People who otherwise exhibited intelligence in their business and personal affairs were seduced by the old get-rich-quick scheme that has suckered humanity of millennia.” People could not resist the 15-20% yield on their investments with Madoff. His selfishness was fueled by the selfishness of his investors. The cure will be found in this post on giving generously instead of taking greedily.
In these posts, I am journeying and journalizing about finances. I want to mediate and journal on what the Scriptures say about financial matters in order to honor God in my stewardship. In chapter two of Money Map Coach from Crown Financial Ministries at Crown.org the subject of generous giving is discussed. In this chapter, Larry Burkett examines proper attitudes in giving and practical principles of giving. In this post, I will look at the first of two proper attitudes of generous giving found in Scripture. The two attitudes are love and joy.
This may shock you, but why we give is just as important to God as how much we give. God’s attitude of giving is seen in the giving of His Son because “God so loved the world” (John 3:16). Because God loves, He gives. If we love God and people, which is the first commandment (Matthew 22:37), then we will give. If we love ourselves instead of God and people, as Paul warned and Madoff lived, then we will be “lovers of money” (2 Timothy 3:1-2).
If we give without the attitude of love then as far God is concerned it is as if we did not give at all: “Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor…and have not love, it profits me nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3). An example of a lack of love in giving that drew a rebuke from Christ was the Pharisees: “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the other undone” (Matthew 23:23). Jesus did not say, “Don’t tithe.” Jesus said, “Don’t tithe without love.” Am I giving because I love God with all my heart or because of guilt or a pharisical sense of spirituality?
How can we change our giving from mere legalistic adherence to a law to giving from our love for our Savior and God? By viewing our giving as to the Lord Himself. “For the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer up as a heave offering to the Lord” (Numbers 18:24). After quoting this verse, Larry Burkett gives a great line: “If giving is merely to a church, a ministry, or a needy person, it is only charity. But if it is to the Lord, it becomes an act of worship. Because God is our creator, our Savior, and our faithful provider, we can express our gratefulness and love by giving our gifts to Him.”
My Prayer: “Father, the next time I place my tithes in the offering plate, remind me that this gift is to You, who purchased my salvation with the ultimate sacrifice of your Son, as my act of worship. In Jesus name, Amen.”