Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Tim. 6:17-18)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Is Giving Really Giving?

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The Definition of Giving

I recently ran across a definition of the word "giving" that reads like this: to bestow or input to another person without an equivalent or reward. I've also seen a similar definition that reads very much the same, but at the end says without an expectation for an equivalent or reward.

Giving to another person, an organization, or even back to God requires a total selfless act of the will. Our natural tendency since the fall of man back in the Garden of Eden is to live a selfish, closed-fisted life. When we get a hold of some money, we want to close our fist around it and not let it go - that's our fleshly nature just being selfish.

As we mature in our walk with Christ, though, we should be allowing the Holy Spirit to take control of our money. We should be relaxing our selfish hands and allowing God to use us to be givers and not just receivers and takers.

Does This Definition Really Ring True?

When we give back to others and God, I believe we should have a totally selfless attitude and have no expectation of an equivalent or reward. But, I don't think this definition is correct and here's why: through the act of giving we do experience an equivalent or reward.

I believe that God has created a "universal law" that when we give back to Him and others that He opens up at least the possibility for equivalent rewards. I've seen it time and again in people's lives as well as in my own life that God blesses extravagant giving.

First, God gives us joy in giving. It's a personally gratifying, joyful experience to be able to even have the opportunity to give back. A lot of times, that's an equivalent reward in and of itself!  At the very least, the first, immediate reward for giving can be the self-satisfaction that you have done the right thing in the eyes of God and others. You receive back the gift of joy that you have been able to bless God, your church, or another person as a result of giving.

Second, God takes what we give here on earth and stores up our treasure in Heaven. I would actually count this heavenly treasure as way more than an equivalent reward because we will have the opportunity to enjoy this treasure for all of eternity! Obviously, this is not an immediate, recognizable reward for giving. We must live by faith that we will receive this reward when we enter into His heavenly kingdom when we pass from this life into the next.

Third, I believe that many times God does bless us financially for having open hands and living a life of generosity. He is seeking out excellent money managers to handle His wealth. When believers handle His money wisely and generously, His tendency seems to be to give his best money managers even more to manage.

Is Giving Really Giving?

So, the question that begs to be answered here is giving really giving? And the answer is probably "yes and no!" The act of giving should be done with the expectation for nothing in return. But, the reality is that there are immediate as well as long-term equivalent rewards: we receive joy through the act of giving; we lay up treasure in Heaven for all of eternity; and God blesses us with even more to manage wisely and generously! Giving is a win-win all around.

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