It is more blessed to give than to receive.
Have you ever heard someone utter the above Scripture? It sounds like such a crock, doesn’t it? I mean, who really enjoys giving more than receiving? Paul the apostle, however, attributed these very words to Jesus in Acts 20:35. Consequently, it is important that we pay attention to this statement. But paying attention to something we read and hear is quite different from buying into the principle and allowing it to guide our lives. What we need to truly understand is that Paul’s quoting of Jesus is, in fact, God’s perspective on giving.
Are you familiar with the story of Arland Williams? On January 13, 1982, Arland was a passenger on Air Florida Flight 90 leaving Washington, D.C. It was extraordinarily cold that day—so cold, in fact, that the runway froze. The plane did not achieve the necessary altitude upon takeoff and crashed into the freezing Potomac River. Only six people survived the initial crash; Arland was one of them. Within 20 minutes, a rescue helicopter arrived and threw life rings to the survivors. Arland grabbed each one and gave them first to the other five people. When the helicopter returned for Arland, he was dead. Reports indicate that Arland knew his strength was fading but continued to give the life rings to others. He gave his life for them.
God gave everything when He gave His Son to die for us. Through Jesus’ resurrection, we can have eternal life. God does not hold back when He gives. In fact, God gives freely (Romans 6:23) and fully (Matthew 7:7; Luke 12:32; John 3:16; Romans 5:17; 2 Corinthians 9:15; James 1:5; 4:2). He expects nothing less of us.
So, if God wants us to give our all, what does that look like?
Let’s start with the tithe. The tithe is the first 10 percent of our earnings and our resources. Why give the first 10 percent of our resources? Because giving the first 10 percent of what we make is a principle (the principle of firstfruits) that establishes our priorities. We are saying, “God, You are first in all my resources.”
God loves receiving the first of everything, but not so much because He wants the first of that particular resource. He doesn’t need it. He wants our whole hearts. In Exodus 34:26, God told the people, “As you harvest your crops, bring the very best of the first harvest to the house of the Lord your God.” So, we give what God says to give.
Practically speaking, this means giving God 10 percent of every paycheck before we spend that money on anything else. We purpose beforehand to give it to God, not spend it on bills, debt, things we want, etc.
Faithfully giving our very best—the first of our earnings—opens the door of blessing over our remaining resources. Testimony after testimony declares God’s blessing on the lives and resources of people who tithe. One business owner tells the story of how after he started tithing, he began to see God’s blessing on his business. He was going through a very difficult time financially but chose to prioritize giving God the tithe instead of using that 10 percent to pay off debt or to pay bills. By God’s grace, his business began to turn around and is doing well now. He also uses his resources to bless his church, to give to local missions, and to bless families by opening his home and cooking for them. He has discovered the truth of Malachi 3:10: “‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,’ says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, ‘I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!’”
Scripture overwhelming supports this principle of sowing and reaping. When we sow our resources into God’s kingdom, we receive a blessing. Here are just a few verses that prove this point:
- “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine” (Proverbs 3:9–10).
- “Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything” (Proverbs 11:24).
- “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back” (Luke 6:38).
- “Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. ‘For God loves a person who gives cheerfully’” (2 Corinthians 9:6–7).
Keep in mind that your giving is your very best. Comparing what you give with what others give confuses the most important issue. God is looking at your heart and your resources. Deuteronomy 16:17 states, “All must give as they are able, according to the blessings given to them by the Lord your God.” Mark 12:41–44 records,
Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins.
Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.”
Are you tithing to your local church? If not, why not? What is your best right now? Are you giving your best to God or keeping it for yourself? Based upon what you have read in this lesson, what do you think would happen to your resources if you began to tithe faithfully?
It is important to know that God’s blessing is not so much for our benefit as it is for the benefit of others. In other words, God’s blessing comes so that we can be a blessing to other people. This is a kind of giving that is rooted in the understanding that God already owns it all. This perspective recognizes that the tithe sets, prioritizes and operates on a principle that God established, recognizing that everything belongs to God. We simply give back to Him, for His purposes, what is already His.
We are stewards of our resources, and when we steward well, God blesses. Danny Chambers, a worship leader and pastor, has stated, “If God can get it through you, He’ll get it to you.” In essence, we get to experience the joy of partnering with God to see His kingdom and His plans happen in the earth as they occur in heaven.
To what or to whom are you giving God’s resources? Up to this point in your life, how have you stewarded what He has given you?
In wrapping up this session, notice two attitudes in giving that God desires to see. First, He wants a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7). The goal is not to manipulate or compel people to give; the goal is for people to catch the heart of God as the ultimate giver and to join Him in His plan to bless all those around them. So, when you give, do it according to what you have joyfully decided in your heart to give. The amount may hurt (like the woman who gave all she had), but you’ll have joy if you give with the right attitude.
Second, give with humility. Matthew 6:1–4 makes it clear that God wants us to give in a way that only He knows about it. Said another way, be quiet and secretive about your giving. Hypocrites give so that others see them. It’s a way to boost their own egos. But God knows the heart of the giver. You will be blessed when you give in secret simply because God loves you and sees your joyful, humble, giving heart. As you operate according to His principles, He will open the heavens over your life.
May you be blessed as you give for God’s glory and the joy of all people around you!
- The Blind Side (2009)
- Remember the Titans (2000)
- All I Have is Yours by Sojourn Music
- The Blessed Life by Robert Morris