Here is another perspective on giving.
Giving to support the work of the gospel in your own country differs only in practice from giving to the Lord in general. The idea conjures up all sorts of practical suggestions, but efforts to push the gospel, even at great personal sacrifice, that do not have a sound scriptural basis are no more the result of true exercise before the Lord, than commitments of the unsaved to sundry causes (Have you ever talked to a politician’s wife?).
Giving Our Selves
The old principle of the giving of self before the giving of substance still holds.In both O. T. and N. T. days the secret of happiness is self-denial and the willingness to share, whether it is in life, marriage, the local assembly, or the gospel.
The greatest care we can show for sinners is to bring them the gospel. Giving for gospel work does not exist in isolation, however, but is part of a spectrum. Nevertheless, some general comments will help put that aspect of giving in perspective.Before we give to the gospel we should want others to know the One we know, the way Andrew brought Peter (John 1:42) and the way Naaman testified before seeking to give (II Kings 5:15.) Giving becomes an easy proposition if a Christian has eyes on the Lord and is fully convinced that giving is to the Lord alone. Likewise, and this is very important, a hearty attitude about giving is fostered by a conviction that the preacher of the gospel has a right to live off the gospel (II Thess 3:9).
Giving glorifies the gospel, brings joy to the giver, and increases the ability of the giver to give more. It is however, a Christian responsibility only, just as an Israelite (Lev 22:25) was not to offer anything from the hand of a stranger. Wisdom, however, is required to know when to graciously accept the goodwill of the unsaved (perhaps land for a tent) and when to refuse (if the unregenerate think they gain merit by donating).
Giving to gospel work at home yields a wider range of practical opportunities than other fields. Not only is it possible to give funds, but also to share possessions with the Lord. The Scriptures give us patterns of giving that include hospitality, charity, prayer, family, career, time, and funds.
Hospitality includes the sharing of both a house and a home. The Shunam-mite woman of 2 Kings 4 set aside a table, stool, bed, and candlestick, typifying various ways we can share our property to help the gospel. Lazarus, Mary, and Martha, on the other hand, illustrate the way we can give our homes to the gospel, by welcoming preachers with refreshment and fellowship, and hence encouragement.
Charity enhances the gospel. Think of the goodwill Dorcas engendered by her giving to the poor (Acts 9). How obligated were they to listen to the gospel when Peter came? While we don’t want “rice Christians” – those who only come for handouts, we should be vigilant to seek out the truly needy cases because a habit of helping others adorns the gospel.
Prayer, whether for preachers or sinners, involves denial of self and devotion of attention to something greater. When Aaron and Hur held up the hands of Moses (Ex 17) were they not as much a part of the battle as Joshua in the field? It was one battle and all were vital.
Giving Our Family
Giving one’s family to the gospel can be painful, as Hannah knew when she gave her child to the Lord, where he lived for God in a profane environment. Geoffrey Bull’s in-laws, consenting to give their daughter in marriage, said, “We have decided to give her to the Lord,” not just to Geoffrey Bull.
Giving Our Career
Giving a career to the Lord can be painful too, especially in a world that treasures earthly promotions. The decision of a young Doctor Darling to forgo a lucrative, prestigious career in London to stay instead with a small assembly in unknown Lurgan had results, both at home and abroad, known only to God. Many today are reaping the benefits of a young doctor’s giving.
Giving Our Time
Time is in short supply today, because we have to slave so hard to afford so many labor-saving devices, but it is one of the greatest things we can give to the furtherance of the gospel. The amount of time we give to something betrays our hearts (Remember those courtship days?) Getting involved in the preaching of the gospel and attending special efforts are obvious forms of giving that please the Lord, but giving time to the unsaved pleases Him too. In a material world, where so many children “have everything,” giving time to Sunday School scholars can be more meaningful than the traditional material “prize” that meant so much in the days of the Great Depression.
Giving Our Substance
Finally, we can give money. Maybe I’ve left it to the last because you were expecting it to be first! It is, of course, vital.
There are two aspects to consider: gathering funds and using funds.Gathering funds is simplified by using the scriptural teaching of setting aside the Lord’s portion first, on a weekly basis. The writer and his wife, as newly-weds, found it easiest to do this by setting up a separate bank account for the Lord’s work (and typical of youth we gave it a fancy O. T. name we still use!) into which was put the Lord’s portion as soon as we had any increase. Whether it was salary, stipends, interest (that proved to be a small one!), gifts or inheritances (we wish!), the Lord’s portion went in first, before any other expenses were met, and the process was relatively painless. If a believer waits to see how much is left at the end of the month, there will always be a struggle to give to the gospel more than a pittance.
Having assembled funds, how should they be used? This depends on exercise, which is the result of seeking God’s mind, but we can give to those who preach the gospel and to the expenses of propagating the gospel, in addition to enhancing the other types of giving outlined above. Much is on an occasional basis, as God lays needs on our hearts, but it is also a blessing to give to specific needs on a regular, ongoing basis.
Giving for the gospel in these various ways is faithfulness which will be rewarded in a coming day by His, “Well done,” but it also brings its own reward here and now.