First Give—Then Live
But I haven’t had any money to give to the Lord’s work for sometime now, and I don’t see how I will have for sometime to come!!!
If it is startling that a Christian should have feelings such as stated above, then it is all the more surprising that he should say such to a fellow believer; and, yet, just such a statement was made recently to the writer. Does it seem conceivable that the person who made this statement has had an experience with the One who said, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33)? Yes, it is conceivable, but isn’t it sad? One cannot help but wonder, how vital was that experience!
I have read numerous articles concerning the Christian’s giving to the work of the Lord. Many of these have dealt with the applicability of the tithe to the true Church of Christ. Some have dealt with the sphere of the Christian’s giving by discussing whether or not he should limit himself to giving only to and through the local church, or whether or not he should consider and support more general needs, or even reply to the most sensational appeals. All facets of giving to the work of the Lord should be reviewed, but isn’t there a far more basic issue to this matter? I believe that there is, and that it is found in the Scripture quoted earlier.
The background to Christ’s statement in Matthew 6:33, is that of the widow who cast all she had, even her whole living, into the treasury. There are cynics even among believers who say that she really had nothing to lose. Her “whole living” was so meagre it wouldn’t have been much use to her had she kept it, or even a part of it. Both of these thoughts are profoundly true, but let us be quick to apply them to ourselves. What good, from Eternity’s perspective, will anything we withhold do us? Furthermore, we certainly have nothing to lose in giving our whole living, if it be given in that same attitude that was praised by the Saviour.
Just what do you make of Christ’s words, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”? Do you believe this to be a statement of fact and a promise to be capitalized by all Christians, even you? Do you dare to minimize these words of your Saviour? You cannot do so with impunity, for the Spirit of God says, “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in the body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10).
Which is safer and more pleasing to the Lord, a Christian who is depending on his own frugality, the fickleness of an unsaved employer and an unstable economy, or a Christian who treats his income as an opportunity for seeking first the Kingdom of God, and who trusts God who gave His Son to freely supply all things needful in Him (including all expected and unexpected expenses)? See Romans 8:32.
Someone has suggested that the Christian who tries to plan for all his needs (putting aside all question of wants) sets for himself the impossible task of foretelling accurately all future emergencies. Certainly, God expects all His children to be careful stewards concerning their responsibilities and obligations (1 Cor. 14:40). Notwithstanding, what right has a Christian to incur obligations that will so restrict him financially that all his income goes to his creditors and none of it goes to the Lord? Surely, many of the things considered as necessities by the unsaved are luxuries to the Christian and a sin to possess in the light of Matthew 6:33.
Mr. Thomas Baird, in a book entitled Back to the Beginning published in 1919, said, “If every Christian in our assemblies would dedicate one-tenth of his income to God, the missionary problem as far as finances is concerned would be solved in the twinkling of an eye. 1 Corinthians 16:2, condenses the whole subject into a nutshell: Who should give? “Everyone of you.” When to give? “The first day of the week.” How to give? “As God hath prospered.” Surely if the Law could extract one tenth from the tight purse of a Jew, is it asking too much for grace to demand one tenth from the income of a Child of God? Let not a Jew put a Christian to shame” (pp. 78-79 op cit).
We have strayed from our main point for it is not the amount but the attitude we are concerned with. Someone has suggested that those who argue against the tenth, saying that it is giving preference to the Law, overlook the fact that Melchisedek predates the giving of the Law, and he received a tenth from Abraham. Usually those who thus speak are looking for an excuse to give less not more.
An unconverted dentist friend has learned the simple fact that all Christians ought to learn. He asserts that both he and his wife have discovered that when they write a cheque for their church offering before they make the weekly budget, they never miss the amount (They are actually thinking of increasing the amount). When they made out their budget first, they found that there was none for their offering. If the unregenerate who have no one but their clients to rely upon can learn this lesson, why not believers? Believers should for they have an all-wise, all-powerful, and all-loving heavenly Father upon whom to lean. Speaking from personal experience, an experience that has been a genuine blessing, which I would covet for all, God has enabled me to increase my giving without a sizeable increase in income. He has graciously through the years trimmed the list of necessities by lessening the desire for certain things and enlarging the capacity for spiritual things which enables me to properly seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
As I draw this article to a close, may three principles be suggested: if we do not give first, we are not seeking primarily the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. If we do not give first, we cannot confidently expect that “all these things will be added unto you.” If we do give first, we can give more and really exercise faith for the regular requirements of life and for every emergency.