be inspired

in giving & receiving


giving

give as you have received

Somebody once asked the great Victorian gentleman Moses Montefiore, a wealthy man, just how much he was worth. Montefiore paused a moment and then answered. His questioner insisted that surely he was worth much more than that. "Ah," replied Montefiore, "you did not ask how much I owned but how much I was worth. To answer your question I was calculating how much I gave to charity last year". Or, as Winston Churchill put it, "we make a living bywhat we get; we make a life by what we give".

We are accustomed to believe that money always opens doors, creates opportunities. But as a rich man discovered to his lasting sadness money can also close doors (Mark 10:17-22). The key which unlocks so much of our freedom around money and our faithfulness before God with what money he has entrusted to us is to give generously.

In an average working lifetime we will easily earn more than £1million; many much more than this. By global standards we are rich. The gospel invitation to the same all embracing generosity (Luke 5:29;6:34-35;12:33-34; 14:12-14;16:19-31;19:1-10;21:1-4) with what God has entrusted to us, no matter how much it might be.

Giving flows from obedience (2 Cor 8:5), from love (1 Cor 13:3), from joy (2 Cor 9:7). Giving is the acid test of our freedom and faithfulness around money. But above all giving flows from grace (2 Cor 8:1). Our giving flows from what God has done for us in Jesus: "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich yet for your sakes he became poor that you, by his poverty, might become rich" (2 Cor 8:9).

It is because giving is born of grace that our true value lies not in how much we have accumulated but in what we have given. The heart that has been gripped by grace gives most deeply and most generously.

We store up treasure in heaven (Matt 6:19) by managing money on earth according to kingdom values, in the light of eternity. There is no more powerful ,less self centred way of doing that than to give generously. To give is to change lives, to change our own life and ultimately to be made more like Jesus.

taking it further:

Visit our money education zone (www.stewardship.org.uk/money) and search the resource library using the 'giving' quick link to locate the documents listed or enter a single keyword from the document title

  • The Abundance of Everything: Stewardship's approach to money education
  • Remember the Lord: money as gift, obligation and temptation

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giving changes lives

"Greed is good", says Gordon Gekko in the forthcoming sequel to Wall Street, Money Never Sleeps, "now it seems it is legal". But Christians (and many others) march to the beat of a different drum. Jesus said, "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also". If what we do with money reveals our hearts then our giving speaks of our concerns, our passions, our tears and - ultimately - who is at the centre of our life.

The story is told that while walking alone at Balmoral Queen Victoria was caught in the rain. Calling at a cottage she was grudgingly given a tatty umbrella which a courtier duly returned the next day. As the courtier left he heard the cottager say, "If I had known who she was she could have had my best umbrella"

If we could see the people to whom we give, if we could see lives changed and hope released our giving would be transformed. . Giving is not about money; it is about people, it’s about change, it’s about making a difference. Even our smallest gifts can go a long way in some of the poorest countries

The UK charity Send a Cow gives livestock to poor families with one condition, the first female offspring is passed on to another needy family. This gift just keeps on giving from the firstfruits and this is how it should be for us!

The lovely thing about this model of giving is that those who receive the gift of a cow do not just receive charity. They themselves become partners in the war on the poverty that distorts God's intention for his world (Dt 15:4).Paul said, "they asked only one thing, that we remember the poor, which very thing I was eager to do" (Gal 2:10)

Here’s the thing: the giving that changes lives cannot be a little bit from what is left over when we have looked after ourselves. Giving has to be more serious than that.

  • Sowing the Seed: exploring where we might give
  • A sermon on Haggai, exploring giving in a time of recession

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giving changes us

Perhaps nothing is a more sensitive barometer of our faith, our gratitude and our concern for others than our readiness to be financially generous. As Matthew 6:21 suggests, giving reveals our hearts. But the lovely thing about practicing the discipline of giving is that it also releases our hearts.

The grace filled, joyful generosity of the Macedonian church began when they gave themselves ‘first to the Lord’ and then to the apostles (2 Cor 8:5). Renewal in Israel was accompanied by renewed generosity (Ex 36:5; 2 Chron 31; Nehemiah 10:31-39). If wealth can be a weed that strangles spiritual growth (Mark 4:18) then the practice of generosity disturbs its roots and helps the life of Jesus take root in our lives.

We don’t wait to feel joyful or loving before we give; we give in obedience to release the joy of giving. Jesus told the rich ruler (Luke 18:18-25) to give because obedient giving opens our hearts, engages us with others, releases so much else in our lives. In Proverbs generosity, especially to the poor, shapes and blesses the wise (11:25; 14:31; 19:17; 21:13, 22:9).

Just as we forgive because we have been forgiven so we give because God has given to us. The parable of the unforgiving servant (Matt 18:21-35) teaches generosity of heart and hand if grace is to be really real for us.

Here's the thing: the giving that changes us cannot be a little bit from what is left over when we have looked after ourselves. Giving has to be more serious than that.

  • The grace of giving: giving as the hallmark of discipleship

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giving remembers the giver

When Isaac Newton was Master of the Mint in 1717 he fixed the price of one ounce of gold at £3 17s 10½d. This was the ‘gold standard’ which meant that worthless paper and coins were linked to something of great value. No country uses the gold standard now but for Christians earthly money is still linked to and measured by a ‘spiritual gold standard’.

Wealth can make us proud, self assured and lead us to forget the Lord our God (Dt 8:6-17). The lovely thing about giving is firstly that the gift of a part reminds us (in the most concrete way possible) that the whole of what we have belongs to God (Dt 14:22-27). To give is to honour God with the first fruits of all that is his, of all he has entrusted to us (Haggai 2:8;1 Chronicles 29:10-14; Leviticus 25:23; Psalm 24;1).

But when we give we do so much more than simply give a part back to God. To give is to be caught in the flow of God’s grace. When wealth leads us to self assured forgetfulness of the gift that has been given to us giving is an act of remembering and in the giving we are transformed into his image as the Giver of all good things. As someone has said, giving is not about raising money but about raising people in the likeness of Jesus.

Here's the thing: the giving that remembers the Giver cannot be a little bit from what is left over when we have looked after ourselves. Giving has to be more serious than that.

  • Seasons of Giving: a four week bible study for small groups (see the Spotlight tab at www.stewardship.org.uk/money)

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