Godliness and Giving

Some define "godliness" as "God–likeness." Others describe it as "behavior which displays the character of God." It is evident from these brief definitions that godliness is the manifestation of God’s presence and character in one’s life. The godly life is one which takes God into consideration in all areas of life. Whatever is being done, is done with a consciousness of God and His will.

God is holy and this is to mark the godly believer. (1 Pet. 1:15) God is righteous and this too is to be seen in the life of a saint. (Tit. 2:12) God is love and love is to characterize His people. (1 John 4:11)

God is also a giving God, and thus if we are to manifest His character, giving should characterize us as well. Giving is not limited to the giving of money. Time can be given to God and to others. Things can be given as well. Of course, the ultimate gift is to give yourself. Paul said of Christ, "who loved me, and gave himself for me." We often find it easier to give our money than to give ourselves.

From one end of the Bible to the other, God is seen as a Giver. In the beginning He gives man the herb bearing seed, and fruit yielding tree. He provided the first man with a wife fit for him. He gave Abraham and his seed the land. He also gave Sarah a child. God clearly is a giving God.

God’s giving is not limited to physical blessings. The greatest of all God’s gifts is the "unspeakable gift" of His own Son. (2 Cor. 9:15; John 3:16) Scripture speaks of eternal life as a gift. (Rom. 6:23) And every believer has been blessed with "all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ." (Eph. 1:3)

In contrast to God, the natural man is a "taker." It has been said, "The world is composed of takers and givers. The takers may eat better, but the givers sleep better." Even among the saints there are those who are spigots and those who are sponges. Those who are always pouring themselves out for the Lord and others, and those who are always on the receiving end.

In contrast to the natural man, godly men and women are givers. The godly men in assembly oversight are not to be greedy for money, but are to be given to hospitality. (1 Tim. 3:2–3) Barnabas, unlike Ananias, and Sapphira, was a giver of all the proceeds from the sale of his land. (Acts 4:37) Paul, speaking to the Thessalonians, said, "we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls…." (1 Thess. 2:8) The Macedonian saints gave out of their poverty to the suffering saints in Jerusalem. (2 Cor. 9:2) Then there were the two widows. The one "of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living." (Mk. 12:44) The other gave her last handful of meal to the prophet. (1 Kings 17:8–16)

The Scriptures give us a number principles regarding our giving. Not to give to the Lord is spoken of as stealing. (Mal. 3:8–10) Giving to the Lord is simply returning to Him that which He has given us. (1 Chron. 29:14,16) Giving is to be done in secret. We are not to advertise it. (Matt. 6:1–4) Our giving is to be systematic, or regularly. (1 Cor. 16:2) Giving is to be proportional to one’s income. The greater the income, the greater the giving. (1 Cor. 16:2; 2 Cor. 8:3) Perhaps, most importantly, giving is be done willingly, "for God loveth a cheerful giver." (2 Cor. 8:3; 9:7) It has been said concerning the Macedonian saints who gave willingly out of their poverty, "Great tribulation, plus deep poverty, plus grace, equals abundant giving and abundant joy." Another has wisely noted, "Christian giving is not a matter of finances, it is a matter of faith."

Giving is likened to the sowing of seed. "He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully." One can hoard his seed and received nothing in return, or one can sow bountifully and reap bountifully. Paul, writing to the Philippian saints, wrote, " I desire fruit that may abound to your account." (Phil. 4:17) Those who sow bountifully will reap bountifully in their heavenly account.

It should be noted that when one supports a work he becomes a partner in that work. (This is why we must not support false teachers.) The apostle John spoke of being "fellow helpers" or "partners" to the truth. (3 John 8) Through giving each saint has the opportunity to be a partner in the Lord’s work, and to share in the rewards as well.

The apostle Paul, speaking to the Ephesian elders, said, "Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive." (Acts 20:35)