Giving and God’s partnership in our possessions
One of the beautiful phrases said about this topic is that of St Paul the Apostle to the elders of the Church in Ephesus, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus Christ who said:
“It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Why did the
Lord bless giving? No doubt, for many reasons:
Blessing the act of giving
In giving, you share what you have with others, as we have discussed this issue before here on st-takla.org in other sections. But it is more appropriate to say that you share your money with God Himself. Not only when you give to the church, but also when you give to those who are in need. Didn’t the Lord say: “... I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and You visited me”. And He explained this in all His sayings about those who are in need:
“... In as much as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” (Mt 25:35-40).
Then what you give to one of the needy, you actually give to the Lord Himself. Whether it was food for the hungry, clothes to the naked... or just a visit to a sick person or to one in prison... This visit is also a type of giving, where you give love and sharing of feelings. It is giving of the soul and not of the body...
Giving then is the sharing of yourself with others.
The one who is withdrawn within himself keeps away from others, does not want to take or give. A selfish person likes to always take but not to give. A sociable person takes and gives. But the selfless giver is the one who always gives without taking. He puts others before himself...
He always takes from himself to give to others.
That is how the virtue of giving is always mixed with self-denial. In it, the self is always placed last while others are given priority. One does not think about his personal needs and requirements but gives preference to others. That is what the widow of Zarephath did at the time of the famine when she offered the Prophet Elijah the handful of flour and the little oil that she had. Therefore God greatly blessed her home (1 Kings 17:11-19).
The widow who put two mites into the treasury did the same. The Lord blessed her more than anybody else. Why? Because:
“She out of her poverty has put in all the livelihood that she had” (Lk 21:4).
And it was not only out of her poverty, but also because “she put in all the livelihood that she had,” everything that she possessed. We see here the same principle that we mentioned before, which is giving preference to others... Let others live even if I die. I will satisfy others needs, or help in satisfying what they need, no matter how much I myself am in need. In the Lord’s blessing of this widow, we notice an important rule, which is:
That God looks at the depth of giving and not at its amount.
Among the features of this depth is the linking of giving to love. You love to give and you love the one you give to. Therefore the giving which benefits you spiritually is that which you give without discontent, complaint or compulsion, but with all feelings of satisfaction and joy. As the Bible said:
“God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7).
You love the one who is in need and urged by this love, you give him. Your love shows in your treatment when you give. The needy would feel your love and that would make him more joyful than his joy with what he took. He takes from you feelings before he takes material things. And he would feel that your giving is not a type of formality but a sentiment and contribution. You too when you give him would not be less joyful, like the mother who rejoices when she gives to her son, a joy that precedes the giving, and accompanies it because of her son’s joy..
The Bible gives us an example of the people’s joy when they were giving to build the temple during the time of the Prophet David.
The Bible says : “then the people rejoiced, for they had offered willingly, because with a loyal heart they gave to the Lord; and King David also rejoiced greatly.” David then blessed the Lord before all the congregation and said: “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly as this? For all things come from You, and of Your own we have given You... O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have prepared to build You a house for Your holy name is from Your hand, and is all Your own” (1 Chron 29:9,14,16).
It is a beautiful phrase “Of Your own we have given You.”
We own nothing. Each of us should say what the Righteous Job said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there” (Job 1:21). And all that we possess at present, we also say about it with Job: “The Lord gave”, and with David, we say to the Lord: “Of Your own and all is for You.” Therefore it is good for us, every time we give to the Lord, to say: “Of Your own we have given You.”
Truly, it is humility from God who is Almighty and infinite, to take from us.
He is giving us a chance to express our feelings. Exactly like the father who accepts a gift from his son, so the son expresses his feelings of love towards his father, while the money paid for the gift is also from his father. As if he is saying to him: “Of Your own we have given You”.. God, the source of all richness, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness” (Ps 24:1). God who satisfies all the living from His goodness, due to His love, He likes us to share with Him in looking after His house and His children, and He rewards us for that...
He gives us what we give Him and rewards us when we give... And in all that, He trains us to give.
He gives us life and existence. Then He says to us: in every week that I give you, give Me one day which is called “ The day of the Lord”... And I will give you possessions and in all that I give you, give Me the tithes... And in all that, we say to Him : Lord, of Your own we have given You... You who gave us and to those whom we have given. You also gave us the love of giving.
Give me health and strength and with them I will serve You.
Whenever I get tired in serving You and whenever I give in serving You, I do not ever consider that I have given anything... Because health is from You, strength is from You, the love to serve is also from You. Even I, myself, am from You. It was possible not to be born or to exist. You gave me this existence by which I serve You, and gave me the word to speak... In all my service and my labour for You, I say: “Of Your own we have given You.”