CULTIVATING A LIFESTYLE OF GIVING

BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO

Giving should be a lifestyle for children of God. It should not be something they do only when they’re in need or there is an emergency, and they need a miracle supply or a financial breakthrough. When people give only this way, they make giving or sowing seed look like gambling! Most times, such people don’t get what they expect. They get frustrated and say, “This sowing thing is not working.” Children of God should give or sow seed always, not waiting until there is a need in their lives.

Ecclesiastes 11:1-2 says, “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Give a serving to seven, and also to eight, for you do not know what evil will be on the earth” (NKJV).  You should not do one act of kindness and then relax – waiting for the time your charitable deed will be rewarded. You should forget about what you’ve done and look for other opportunities to show kindness as much as you can. The continuous acts of kindness that constitute what I mean by a lifestyle. It becomes part of you: you feel uncomfortable if you don’t do it any day. I believe God loves this kind of giving.

James 2:15-16 says, “Suppose you see a brother or sister who needs food or clothing, and you say, ‘Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat well’ — but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?” (NLT).

Let giving become your lifestyle. I’m not talking in terms of giving only money or giving only to the church. Giving is more than money, and it’s not limited to giving to the church. You can give money, your time, a helping hand, a piece of advice, and material things to the church, the poor and the needy, relations, friends, neighbours, etc.

There are different occasions in the Bible when people gave to God, God’s work, God’s servants, and the poor and the needy. The Israelites gave offerings towards the building of the Tabernacle (Exodus 35).  David and his people gave towards the building of the Temple (1 Chronicles 29:1-9). The widow of Zarephath fed Prophet Elijah during a severe famine (1 Kings 17:8-16).

The Shunammite woman gave hospitality to Prophet Elisha (1 Kings 17:1-10). The wise men gave Jesus gifts (Matthew 2:11). Some women contributed from their resources to support Jesus and his disciples (Luke 8:2). Tabitha (Dorcas) was full of good works and did charitable deeds; she provided widows with coats and other garments (Acts 9:36-39).

The Macedonian churches – the Philippians, Thessalonians, Bereans and others in the Macedonian region – gave to the poor saints (2 Corinthians 8:1-5). Paul specifically mentioned that the Philippians gave him financial help more than once (Philippians 4:15-18). There are many other examples in the Bible.

In Matt 6:1-4, Jesus warns against giving like the hypocrites did: they called attention to their acts of charity. This has no reward from God. Rather, Jesus said that when you give to someone, give your gifts in secret, and your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you openly.  

You should give regularly, voluntarily, generously, and cheerfully; and if you’re giving to human beings, don’t expect from the beneficiaries, a reciprocal gesture. Give, expecting God to reward you; and He knows how He will, and the persons He’ll use.

Why you should cultivate a lifestyle of giving.

1. Giving is a demonstration of your obedience to God. God says you should give; you should be generous. God says in Exodus 34:20, “And none shall appear before Me empty-handed” (NKJV). In Luke 6:38, the Bible says, “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (NKJV).

When you give, you demonstrate your obedience to Him. Paul told the Corinthians that their generosity to the needy Christians in Jerusalem would prove that they were obedient to the Good News of Christ (2 Corinthians 9:13b).

2. Giving helps you to contribute to the advancement of the Kingdom of God of earth. Without the generous gifts of believers, the spread of the Gospel will be hindered. The church and the ministers of God need generous gifts from Christians to advance the Kingdom of God on earth.

In Jesus’ day, some women supported his ministry from their personal resources (Luke 8:3). The early church gave generously to support church projects and ministers (Acts 2:45; 2 Corinthians 8:1-4; Philippians 4:15-18)Paul said, in Galatians 6:6, “Those who are taught the word of God should help their teachers by paying them” (NLT).  He prayed for the Philippians for their generous gifts to him, “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19 NKJV).

Missions, mass media ministry, Church building projects, etc. all require money and other material resources. In Exodus 36, the people brought much more than enough for the building of the Tabernacle. Moses had to stop them. Giving helps you to contribute your quota to the preaching of the gospel and the advancement of the Kingdom of God.

3. Giving brings glory to God. Paul told the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 9:13, “You will be glorifying God through your generous gifts” (NLT). Giving glorifies God. When you give, you’re emulating your Father in heaven, God. God is a giver, a generous giver. He gave His son to save the world (John 3:16). He gave the best to save sinners. He wants you to give regularly, generously, voluntarily, and cheerfully. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “For God loves the person who gives cheerfully” (NLT).

In addition, to the fact that the giver glorifies God through his giving, the receiver also offers thanksgiving to God (2 Corinthians 9:11-12). 

4. Giving shows your love for others and fosters loving relationships. True love gives. You’ve not shown how much you love until you begin to give. Don’t love by words of mouth alone; show it by your actions. That’s what 1 John 3:16-18 says.

Giving draws people to you, and draws you to people. Proverbs 14:20b says the rich have many friends.  Wealth attracts friends (Proverbs 19:4b). Be generous to others. Jesus says, “Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. In this way, your generosity stores up a reward for you in heaven” (Luke 16:9 NLT). Touch other people’s lives with the resources God has given you.

5. There is harvest for your giving. There is always a harvest time for every seed time (Genesis 8:22). Whatever you sow, you reap (Galatians 6:7). It has been rightly said that whatever you make happen for others, God will make happen for you. “If you help the poor, you are lending to the LORD — and he will repay you!” (Proverbs 19:17 NLT).

If you sow joy into people’s life, God will send someone to make you joyful, too. Luke 6:38 says, “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (NKJV).   

The generous soul will be made rich; he who waters will also be watered (Proverbs 11:25).  “Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing. But a curse will come upon those who close their eyes to poverty” (Proverbs 28:27 NLT).

In the parable of the sower, the seed that fell on the good ground produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as what had been planted (Mark 4:7).  “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” (2 Corinthians 9:6 NLT). The harvest is always more than the seed sown, but the quality and quantity of your seed affect your harvest.

However, don’t sow ONLY because you want a harvest. People, who sow solely for this reason, often frustrate themselves when they don’t see the desired harvest in time. But the truth is that God wants you to sow and be enriched so that you can give even more generously (2 Corinthians 9:11).

6. Giving is being a good steward of God’s provision. There is nothing a child of God has, that he is giving, that God didn’t give him. 1 Corinthians 4:7b says, “And what do you have that you did not receive?” (NKJV) Every good gift and every perfect gift is from God (James 1:17).

Giving shows that you’re a good steward of what God has given you (Luke 12:42). God is the one who gives seed to the sower (Isaiah 55:10; 2 Corinthians 9:10).

7. Giving helps one to deal with greed, covetousness, stealing, selfishness, etc. Giving is contrary to these negative behaviours. Ephesians 4:28 says, “If you are a thief, stop stealing. Begin using your hands for honest work, and then give generously to others in need” (NLT).

The rich fool possibly was not a giver, hence he never thought of giving to anyone out of his abundant harvest. He didn’t live to enjoy it (Luke 12:13-21).

The rich young ruler also had a problem with giving. Just because he had great possessions, he couldn’t obey Jesus to sell his possessions and give the money to the poor (Matthew 19:21-22).

8. Giving helps you to meet the needs of others. Giving can help others to solve their problems, meet their needs, realize their goals or contribute to their success. It can create joy in their lives and that of their families.

The giver and the receiver benefit. There is the joy of giving and the joy of receiving. Paul told the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 9:11-12, “And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will break out in thanksgiving to God. So two good things will happen — the needs of the Christians in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanksgiving to God” (NLT).

9. Giving declutters your life. A lifestyle of giving helps you to decongest your life and homes of good things and items lying idle but are useful to others. Don’t give people things that will be a liability to them.

Giving away useful things you’re not using ensures that you don’t make things your master, but the LORD your Master. You’re free from materialism. Whatever you own that you can’t give away actually owns you.

10. Giving serves as an example and encouragement to others to give. Someone’s giving can motivate others to give. In 2 Cor 8:1-5, Paul used the generous giving of the Macedonian churches to challenge the Corinthians who were yet to give a year after, what they had promised. He said that it was the enthusiasm of the Christians in Greece (Achaia) to give that stirred up many Macedonian Christians to begin giving (2 Corinthians 9:2).

11. Giving boosts your physical and mental health. According to Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois, a growing body of research has linked different types of giving to greater quality of life. The potential health benefits include greater self-esteem and satisfaction with life, lower risk of depression, better physical health and longer life.

Similarly, studies, according to Cleveland Clinic, have found the following health benefits associated with giving: lower blood pressure, increased self-esteem, less depression, lower stress levels, longer life and greater happiness.

Giving makes you feel good! That is if you’re not forced or compelled to give.

In1 Chronicles 29:9, the people rejoiced for, willingly and with a loyal heart, offering their resources to the LORD, for the building of the Temple. King David also rejoiced greatly. There is joy in giving, which boosts your physical and mental health.

Conclusion: Don’t be among the people who sit down only expecting people to give to them. Be a giver. Don’t say you don’t have. There is always something you have that you can give. Jesus said it’s more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Make giving a lifestyle.

TAKE ACTION!

If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.

Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.

I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.

T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
WhatsApp No: +2349081295947
Email: cedarministryintl@yahoo.com,
cedarministryng@gmail.com
Website: www.cedarministry.org