We are reading the Bible through together this year, using the Discipleship Journal Reading Plan published by the Navigators. You can download it free of charge from: https://www.navigators.org/resource/bible-reading-plans/
Today’s 4 readings are: Matthew 27:1-10; Romans 12:1-8; Psalm 66, Deuteronomy 13-17.
Reading through the Word following this plan, puts some passages before us forming interesting connections. Such is today’s set. Each of them references giving in some capacity. And giving, specifically as it is a key part of the Believer’s worship. Whether it was under the Old Covenant or the new, giving is an important part of the Believer’s spiritual life. Seldom do we imagine it so. There is no question that our giving is tied to several key concepts:
a. Giving to Christ’s work in response to how He has given all for us. b. How giving attacks our native, sinful materialism. Judas’ example is the obvious negative. The Romans and Psalms portions give us positive instruction and Deuteronomy a bit of both.
What I find most interesting today is captured in the Romans portion and a verse that is seldom addressed in detail: Romans 12:6–8 (ESV) — Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
What does “in proportion to our (or THE) faith” mean? Basically, it means no matter what our gift, we need to exercise it for the good of the Church taking in the whole of Scripture, and not isolating it from the whole counsel of God. And Paul teases that out by giving us examples with explanation.
a. The one who contributes – who gives to the work of the Lord, is to do so with generosity – not legalistically, begrudgingly, stingily, by meager scraps or out of mere duty. The entire Word reinforces this concept of generosity and rejects giving for other purposes. Giving to Christ’s cause in the Church must be done with the right heart and in such a way as to fight our sinful, materialistic impulses.
b. The one who leads – with zeal. Paul will expand on that in other places, but the Word is replete with admonitions toward leaders, and how zeal for serving God and His people must never give way to drudgery, moneygrubbing, seeking lordship over others, seeking position, power or recognition. Leading joyfully by being the first one in line to where we are all supposed to be going: The Celestial City.
c. The one who does acts of mercy – with cheerfulness. Again, a begrudging, stingy, gripey attitude of just doing one’s duty negates the giving of mercy. The heart and mind must be informed by how the Word calls us to have the Lord’s compassion on those in need. And lest we say to ourselves “they got themselves into this mess”, forgetting that we are responsible for getting ourselves into the entire mess of sin – and in His compassion, He cheerfully acted in mercy toward us.
Give your gifts to the Church beloved. Be it prophecy – spotlighting Biblical truth to bless, encourage and strengthen the brethren; be it teaching – in concert with the entire counsel of God; be it exhortation – exhorting to Spirit fueled godliness and not a legalistic duty; be it monetarily – with generosity; be it leadership – with humility and grace; be it mercy – cheerfully. Knowing how it manifests the cheerful mercy of our loving God.
Lord! Make it so in my own heart – in each and every one of these places.