The Delicate Art of Giving to the Lord


When we give to the Lord, so many things can go wrong.  The world looks askance at it, even friends wonder about all the money we’re giving, and so many questions arise.

I call it a delicate art, this business of giving to the Lord.  Here are some reasons for that.

One. It doesn’t look like what it is.

It may appear you are giving to poor people, to the needy, to the gospel worker, or to the church itself.  Someone may even say you’re “paying the preacher.”  One of my uncles was known to say, “I don’t owe the preacher anything; I’ve not been to hear him preach in ages.”

In giving to my Savior, I am laying up treasure in Heaven (Matthew 6:20), I am ministering to the saints (2 Corinthians 9:1), I am honoring my Lord by my faithfulness (see Mark 12:41-44), and I am honoring His name (see Hebrews 6:10).

Two.  Outsiders will accuse you of wasting your money.

Judas said, “What a waste!”(see Mark 14:4).  He was a thief, say the gospel writers, and cared little for the honor of the Lord.

Three.  The art of giving to the Lord is so easily abused by the unscrupulous.

Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).  We’ve all heard preachers on radio and television turn that on its head and urge us to give to them so that we might reap a blessing.  If they really believed the Lord, they’d be sending money our way!

We know of pastors who will not preach on money because someone will accuse them of the wrong motives.  In so doing, they fail their people big time.

Four.  It achieves something we may not see in our lifetime.

Proper and generous giving to Christian workers may achieve changes in the hearts and lives of people, transformations in homes and communities, and complete turnabouts in nations. As a rule, however, the givers will not know.  Humanly speaking, there’s no way to calculate whose offering bought the Bibles for the children in Tanzania, built the church in Singapore, or paid for the gasoline for the gospel worker’s moped in Malawi.  God knows.

The Mississippi River, we’re told, drains a basin that extends from Western New York State into Eastern Montana.  When it flows past New Orleans, you can walk off the levee into the water and dip your finger in.  As a drop falls from your finger, it would be humanly impossible to say where that drop first hit the ground–Billings, Montana or Lake Otasca, Minnesota, or Utica, New York.  But God could tell you.

Five. It’s done on earth but has eternal, spiritual, and heavenly dimensions.

When we give to the Lord’s work, God is pleased and Jesus is honored and the Holy Spirit is able to put the gifts to work in the spreading of the gospel.  When we do this, God takes note and promises us, “You will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14:14).

Six.  It transforms earthly possessions into heavenly treasures.

A divine alchemy.

Alchemy was the faux science of the Middle Ages whereby people tried (or claimed) to change base metals into gold.  Fortunately, they never learned to pull that off.  But there is a strong sense in which we may take earth’s treasures and transfer them into the currency of Heaven.

Seven. It can be done silently, even secretly, with no fanfare and no one else knowing.

I’ve been the recipient of anonymous gifts and have arranged to give a few to servants of the Lord over the years.  It’s a wonderful thing.

Eight.  It is deceptively simple and usually unimpressive to the unspiritual.

It might be something so small as a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple (Matthew 10:40).

A check written and mailed.  A small gift to the needy or even to the undeserving.

Nine. It’s open to abuse personally.

I can give for all the wrong reasons, and I alone would know.  I could be giving to impress others, to gain favor with someone, or to earn a reward in Heaven.  We recall how our Lord told how hypocrites pray and give and fast for all the wrong reasons but mostly “to be seen of men.”  In each case, He said, “They have their reward.” (Matthew 6:2,5,16).  That is, they have all the reward they’re going to get.

Look at the delicate offering made by the widow of Mark chapter 12…

–She never knew that the Lord saw her deed that day.

–She never knew that He was honored by her gift.

–She never knew that He honored her above all the others that day.  She made honorable mention in Holy Scripture!

–She never knew her gift would inspire millions to give billions in the future.

So, it is fair to say that when you and I bring our gift to the Lord, we will never know…

–What the gift will mean to the Lord.

–What God will do with our gift.

–What our gift will mean to our eternal existence.

–How God will inspire others with our example.

So, we give by faith.  (See Luke 18:8)  We do so knowing the practice can be abused, knowing that we are handing money to flawed humans who may or may not use the gift wisely.  When the widow of Mark 12 gave her offering, the temple was under the control of “a den of thieves,” i.e., a bunch of crooks (Mark 11:17).

We give out of love to our Lord.  We give generously, and make it our aim to give more generously.  And when we come to the end of our days, we may decide that–in the words of one who after a lifetime of generous giving had lost his wealth in the Great Depression–“the only thing I have left is what I gave away.”

Lord, help us to honor Thee with our giving.