June 29, 2020 | Prayer Guides by Various Authors
Love Others Through Our Generosity
Day 11: What Is Generous Giving?
1 John 3:17 “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?”
On the counter at the snow-cone booth was a foam tip cup with the words, “Tip—because money is the root of evil.” Yes, the teenagers dealing with sticky, sweet syrup deserved a tip, but the writing on the cup was a distortion of the well-known Bible verse. The word “love” was missing. “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils” (1 Timothy 6:10).
As Christians our goal is to love God and love others—not love the world or the things in the world. John goes on to say in his letter, if we do not help those in need, the love of the Father is not in us. Love is a distinguishing mark of a disciple. Likewise, generosity is, too. To be generous is to be ready to give more of something than is expected. A generous giver has a willing heart and a ready spirit. Therefore, a disciple of Christ will develop a regular habit of sacrificially giving in order to advance God’s kingdom agenda.
Christ, the generous giver exemplar, willingly laid down His life that we might have life and have it “to the full.” Not a cupboard or bank account full, but a rich, kind, and quality of eternal life found only in Him. From an overflow of gratefulness to Christ, we are to follow His example and generously give to the mission of God and the people of God.
Remember, every good and perfect gift you have is from the Father’s gracious hand. You have what you have, not to hoard, but to give. Sure, you must budget for today and save for tomorrow; however, hold loosely the things of the world—which are passing away. We must have an open heart to share, and a spirit that reminds us the things of the world are temporary.
So, yes; tip the snow-cone maker, generously contribute to the work of the ministry, and look for ways to share with others. We are to “do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share” (1 Timothy 6:18).
Questions to Consider:
Do I remember everything I have is from God? Do I generously share with others and the mission of God?
- Father, remind me that all I have is Yours.
- Give me the desire and obedience to live a life of generosity.
Day 12: Why Give Generously?
Matthew 6:19–21 Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Our God is an abundantly giving and generous God! In light of this, how should believers respond? When we think about giving, which can be a difficult subject for some, we must look at it through the right lens. A biblical lens. Why should we give?
Generosity is an attribute (characteristic) of God and one that He chooses to share with us. Our giving reflects God’s character and His generosity to us. Be careful to not miss the point—giving isn’t about money; it’s about the heart, just like Matthew says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” We have just spent ten days in our prayer guide on worship. Worship and giving are connected. How are they connected, you might ask? Giving is a joyful act of worship! We worship God in and through our generosity.
Genesis 1:1 tells us that God is the creator of everything. All of it is His, not ours and we are to worship the Creator, not the creation. Giving should be done with a rightly postured heart and an attitude of worship toward God. Because of what Christ has done for us on the cross and the amazing grace we receive, our giving should reflect what our heart treasures.
Questions to Consider:
Are your treasures earthly treasures or eternal treasures? When you give, is it truly an act of joyful worship?
- “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
- Lord, help me to worship you in and through my giving as I contribute to kingdom work.
Day 13: The Heart Of Giving
2 Corinthians 9:7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion for God loves a cheerful giver.
Giving is a response to God’s amazing grace whereby we offer up our money, time, and talents sacrificially. But there are two other words to consider in regards to giving: generous and cheerful. When we consider the verse above we learn that giving is a matter of the heart. As a matter of fact, our money is a barometer for our heart. To be sure, giving is an act of love towards God and others as we give up our resources for kingdom purposes. This is evident in 1 John 3:17-18, “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and truth.”
What can we do to posture our hearts to give generously and cheerfully? First, we must realize who owns our material possessions, money, talents, and time. Everything belongs to God. We are merely stewards of our earthly possessions. The word “steward” is derived from the Old English word “stigweard,” which means “housekeeper.” Stewardship can be defined as the faithful management of God’s resources, in God’s world, to achieve God’s objective.
Once we develop the correct mindset towards giving, it becomes easier to give with a cheerful heart. Indeed, giving is an act of obedience, demonstrating that we recognize God’s authority over us, creation, and the material world. Yet, we also recognize that giving is a privilege, as we give sacrificially to meet the needs of the poor, the local church, missions, and His Kingdom. In doing so we bring glory to God. Likewise, we grow in Christ-likeness. As we mature in our faith and better understand our salvation, we gain a new view of eternity such that the things of this world no longer grip our hearts as they did before.
Questions to Consider:
How can you develop a heart for giving cheerfully? How can you find ways to give of your time and talents? How can your prayer life affect your giving?
- God, give me a heart for giving sacrificially that flows from my understanding of the gospel.
- God, help me understand that giving is both a command and a privilege. Thank you for the resources you have entrusted to me.
Day 14: What Is Tithing?
Deuteronomy 14:28 At the end of every three years you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in the same year and lay it up within your towns.
Reading up on Old Testament tithing practices probably did not make your list of top ten things to do this year—or last year. Confusion abounds about this topic and how it relates to us today. Sometimes we use the word tithe to mean we are giving monetarily to our local church. However, we might be surprised to learn we may not be using that word correctly.
Let’s wander back to the Old Testament to get a clearer picture of what a tithe is and why God commanded it. The word “tithe” (which means tenth) is used forty-one times in the Old Testament. The tithe was part of an economic system provided by God. Tithing was necessary for the healthy economic functioning of society, and all citizens of Israel were required to tithe. Three separate tithes were required: Levitical, celebratory, and welfare. The three of these tithes amounted to no less than 20 percent and no more than 30 percent of material earnings. Yes, you read that correctly—20 to 30 percent. To be precise, over the course of seven years, the pattern of giving was 20%, 20%, 30%, 20%, 20%, 30%, 0%. This averaged out to be 20 percent every year over a seven-year period. Hence, the word “tithe” has these amounts in view, not only 10 percent.
Why were the Israelites commanded to give these tithes? Well, the Levitical tithe was given to support the priests as they served in their duties. The celebratory tithe was for Israelite worshipers as they traveled to and resided in Jerusalem to participate in three mandatory annual religious celebrations at the temple. The welfare tithe was the poor tithe. Hence, the word “tithe” has these specific purposes in view.
Much of the confusion around tithing centers on whether modern day believers are to follow the OT tithe. In order to do that we would need to match not only the amount, but also the application of the tithe in order to be biblical. This is impossible because we no longer live in an economic system provided and commanded by God.
Questions to Consider: Do you see the biblical command to give as tithing 10 percent of your income? How can you become more informed about what Scripture instructs on giving?
- Pray for a heart that longs to give God a portion of your earnings that reflects Scripture’s instruction.
- Read and meditate on 2 Cor 8:3–5. Pray through this asking God for a spirit of generosity in all that He has blessed you with.
Day 15: Principles Of New Testament Giving
1 Corinthians 16:1–2, Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.
Surprisingly, the New Testament does not prescribe a formal method or fixed amount for believer’s giving at all. The New Testament does give several examples and principles to guide us in our giving. These principles are easy to remember: periodic, personal, planned, proportionate, plentiful.
The early church met weekly and so their giving was periodic (weekly). Nowadays, our earnings are paid weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly. The interval is not the key to their example but rather that we give periodically. Personal giving is just that—a personal response to receiving God’s grace through Jesus Christ. Our giving is an expression of love to One who gave us eternal life. Moreover, In 1 Cor 16:2 Paul instructs the believers to offer planned giving. Paul simply calls for intentional giving. We choose to give and make a conscious effort to do so. Proportionate giving should be in accordance to what the believer possesses. People with greater means can give more than those with less. Lastly, giving is to be plentiful. Genuine love for God and growth in the Christian life will result in a mature, giving heart that is generous toward God and His people.
As we consider our own giving practices, perhaps it is time to consider shifting our thoughts away from “tithe” as a 10 percent only and towards the principles listed above. More importantly, it is important to realize, percentages don’t woo the heart of God. What God desires is that we love and adore Him (Deuteronomy 5:5) and, therefore, express that love in our thoughts, words, and deeds.
Questions to Consider:
Is your giving a fixed percent based on what you thought was the biblical instruction for today? Is there a hesitancy (or just plain unwillingness) to give periodically, personally, planned, proportionately, and plentifully? If so, why is that? Are you praying about your attitude towards giving? Are you praying about what you give to God?
- Ask God to reveal your heart’s posture about giving to Him.
- Meditate on 2 Cor 9:7, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Ask God for a cheerful heart that gives freely out of gratitude for what He has done in Christ.
Day 16: How to be Generous? Gratitude & Attitude
1 Timothy 6:17–19, “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.”
Throughout the Bible it is clear that God wants humans to experience His generosity. In fact, God chooses Abraham to lavish His goodness upon, if Abraham will simply believe. And Abraham does believe (Gen 15:6; James 2:23). However, most of his descendants do not. Therefore, many of the New Testament parables spoken by Jesus deal with money, with generosity. Jesus realizes we do not always rightly trust Him, so He calls us to live with trust in our Creator God to supply all our needs. 1 Timothy 6:17 reminds us that God “richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.” Paul instructs us also to “be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.” We might not be rich in terms of money, but we can be rich in terms of what we do have to offer—our time, our resources, our talents. Think for a moment about using your time, perhaps spending some time with a senior saint listening to their life stories. Think about using your resources, perhaps recommending good books or passing down gently used clothing as your children outgrow them. Think about using your talents, perhaps playing piano for 4th & 5th graders or teaching a children’s life group. Remember, however, that even though God has given us talents to use, we must also give with our money—whether we have a little or a lot—to fund the Kingdom work of our local church.
When we receive the gospel of God through the generous grace He gives us, we should begin to look for ways to be generous toward others in the various means He has provided us. When we give, we give out of gratitude to God. Start each day with an attitude of gratitude, thanking your Savior for His generous gift of salvation.
Questions to Consider:
In times of crisis, focusing on what we don’t have can easily cause us to cling to worldly goods. Do you experience this? What would you and others around you gain by trusting God’s generous love instead?
- Pray for obedience to be a generous giver with the resources with which God has blessed you.
Day 17: A Biblical Case Study in Generosity—Corinthians
2 Corinthians 8:1–5, “We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, . . . they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.”
Paul, as an apostle, is going to encourage the believers in Corinth to give generously to the church. His method will be to share a testimony of the Macedonians—believers experiencing deep poverty and yet willing to give. Paul uses phrases like “grace of God,” “abundance of joy,” “wealth of generosity,” and “first to the Lord.” Paul acknowledges that all we have is due to God’s grace. The grace of God establishes faith in us to become children of God (John 1:12). “Abundance of joy” can come no matter what our season or status in life. Joy comes from God in spite of circumstances.
The example of the Macedonians makes us question: “If they were poor, how did they have a wealth of generosity?” They gave according to what they had and then even a little more. They were open-hearted with their money, as opposed to being self-seeking. And, finally, the Christians gave themselves to the Lord first and then to the offering for other believers. Matthew 6:33 states, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.”
Question to Consider:
The Macedonians are a positive example of a group that joyfully gave in the midst of trial and poverty. As a group, they made a huge impact. Will you join with RCCC to do something meaningful at this time?
- Pray for a heart that desires to give to others, even in the midst of trials surrounding us today.
- Pray for an understanding that God is a generous God and will grant to us “all we need for life and godliness in Christ Jesus” (2 Pet 1:3).
Day 18: To Whom Shall We Give?
Acts 20:35 “In all things, I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Is there an order in which believers should give? How do we decide who to give to first?
Sacrificial giving should primarily be to the local church you attend. Simply stated, your local church should come first. In the early church, they didn’t give their money to specific projects they were interested in, but rather to the local church. As a result, believers accomplished all of the things God had called them to do. Just like the early church, today, when you give to the local church, you are helping to meet the needs of the body—caring for the poor, feeding the hungry, supporting your pastors, equipping people to minister in the community, and sending people out to the nations. We too get to participate in the mission of God and what He has called us to do through our local church!
However, sacrificial giving does not have to stop at the local church, though it should be your primary place of giving first. You can continue additional sacrificial giving to support your brothers and sisters in Christ globally around the world. We must remember that Christian organizations, called “parachurch” ministries, did not exist in the New Testament, so there isn’t necessarily a roadmap for this. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t exercise our giving with caution. When giving to such organizations, a great question to ask is what church oversees the organization I am giving to and what do they believe? It is very important to understand where your money is going and what you are supporting.
Questions to Consider:
Do you routinely pray over your sacrificial giving? Are you giving first to your local church, participating in the mission of God? If giving to other Christian ministries, have you taken the time to understand what your money is supporting?
- Lord, help me to glorify you in my giving. May my heart’s desire be to serve my local church first and then to have wisdom with any additional giving to other organizations beyond that.
Day 19: A Plan For Generosity
1 Corinthians 6:12 “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.”
When considering a plan for giving, two questions should be used to filter our intentions and actions. “Does this bring God glory by advancing the gospel?” And, “Would this be beneficial for others?” Do you hear Matthew 22:37–39—love God and love others? These scriptural concepts are echoed throughout 1 Corinthians, though applied to differing situations.
As we use these overarching questions to think through generosity, we must first look inward. As a Christian, free to do many things, what is my heart attitude? Am I excited to be generous? Who or what is the focus of my spending? Am I in sin, reluctant, or possessive? Then, we need to assess our current situation. Where does my money actually go? Am I in so much debt, I’m unable to give? Finally, evaluate goals for what you would like to do with your money. How could I use everything God has graciously given me for another’s good?
After evaluation, make a specific plan. Bring all of the Scripture we have already looked at this month into action steps—that is, steps of obedience. Write down how you intend to bring God glory through living generously. Here are some ideas for what to include:
First and foremost, give yourself to the Lord (Romans 12:1–2).
Pray for a surrendered, thankful, generous heart and for specific ways to give—time, spiritual disciplines, forgiveness, and resources.
Steward everything God has given. Get out of debt. Consider taking the Financial Peace University class through our church. Intentionally manage time and resources for the building up of others.
Joyfully and regularly give financially to the church in order to advance God’s kingdom agenda (1 Cor. 16:2; 2 Cor. 9:7).
Questions to Consider:
In which areas am I selfish and view things as “mine”? Have I been mastered by idolatry? How am I living in a way that is beneficial to others?
- Confess areas of being mastered by money and things.
- Pray for the Spirit’s help to identify and develop a regular pattern of generous cheerful giving of time, treasure, and talents.
- Pray for individual and corporate steps of obedience.
Day 20: Given by God, For God
John 18:36, Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”
Jesus spoke these words to Pilate as he stood trial before him for charges of claiming to be king of the Jews. Jesus’s answer is so simple, yet profound and beautiful—“My kingdom is not of this world.”
Let me ask, where is your kingdom, truly? Can we say the same for ourselves if we were asked this question? Our society today has created a self-serving culture of “me” and “mine” where the emphasis is on a worldly kingdom—the here and now. We tend to think that everything we have is of our own doing, but that is unbiblical thinking. We must be very careful to not substitute “us” with God. Everything we have is given by God, for God, for His purpose—not given by us, for us. What a massive difference in those two statements! As believers, our focus should be eternal, not temporal, but this sometimes gets lost as we allow kingdom vision to be overshadowed by our earthly life and our flesh. We must be careful to not fall into the sin of greed with our resources. We can avoid this thinking through prayer and being in the Word, which will lead to a kingdom mindset. As Jesus said, our kingdom is not here, but kingdom work does start here! Church, I challenge you to remember that it is not our kingdom, but His. And for believers, this is just our temporary home. Reflect on all that the Lord has done for us. Rest in knowing that God’s kingdom is eternal.
Questions to Consider:
Where do you consider your kingdom to be? Eternal or earthly? How is your attitude towards your resources?
- Lord, thank you that this is not our permanent home, but help me to be focused on kingdom work here and now with my heart, my attitude, and my resources so that I may glorify you.