The joy of giving

Peter Tibbott

If you’ve ever been part of a church building project, you will know how immensely long and arduous the process can be: How will we raise the funds? How long will it take? Will the building be everything we imagined it would be? Is it worth it?

The amount you need to raise keeps stacking up. It seems like contractors keep adding an extra zero to the end of every number, just to watch you squirm.

In the last chapters of 1 Chronicles, King David is planning the biggest fundraising campaign in Israel’s history, as he prepares to hand the kingdom to his son, Solomon, and the task of building God’s temple.

The cost is high. But God provides. So much so, in fact, that David can do nothing but praise the Lord for all he has done.

God provides for his people, but he does that through his people. And David gives the glory to God alone:

“But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. We are foreigners and strangers in your sight, as were all our ancestors. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope. LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you.” (1 Chronicles 29:14-16)

David recognises that he and all people are like mist – here one minute, gone the next. That’s why the praise goes to God and not to the people who gave the money: after all, the money came from God in the first place.

Is that the way we view our money? Do we view it as God’s money, generously lent to us from him so that we could spend it for him? If we don’t, then we end up giving reluctantly. But if we do, then we come to understand that to give back to God is a deep joy.

Jesus makes this clear in the Sermon on the Mount:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

The way we give reflects the state of our hearts, just as the things we give to reflect our convictions.

For example, if you invest heavily in gym memberships and classes, you may be convinced that working out will make you happy: it relieves your stress, makes you feel better about yourself and gives you something to work towards.

If you devote a university summer holiday volunteering in a homeless shelter, you will be convinced that all people are valuable in God’s sight and that Christians have a duty to help those in need.

If you invest your money in a pastor training to lead a church in the majority world, you will be convinced that the greatest need for that church is the gospel of Jesus Christ and the careful proclamation of his word.

It should make us ask ourselves: of the money I have that doesn’t get spent on necessary things (like food, rent and bills), where am I investing most heavily? Where do I find my ‘treasure’ going to, more often than not?

When we realise that our earthly riches – big or small – are nothing compared to the spiritual riches we have in Christ, we find that giving is a joy.

Ultimately, Christian giving is a joy because we give to the one who gives us joy in Christ.

“The heart for God-glorifying missions starts with joy in the gospel.” (Missions: How the local church goes global – Andy Johnson)

Click here to read about the grace of giving.