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The Monthly Bread Archives

"The Joy of Giving"

Gen 4:4,6

v4... But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on cain and his offering He did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
v6... Then the Lord said to cain, "why are you angry ? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted ? (NIV)
v6... Why is your face dark with rage ? It can be bright with joy if you will do what you should! (LB)

The acceptance of our offering to God should always be a major consideration in our giving. It was for Abel and wasn't for Cain. Somehow Cain thought he would be happier to give what he could afford. Like King Saul, He wanted to bring an offering that was profitable for his own self interest, and acceptable before the Lord, never considering what God required. He looked for the custom made offering, that would be a convenient way of giving for all occasions. Yes, He looked for the happy medium in sacrificial living.

However, we see in verse 6, that cain did not find the joy he counted on, but instead became angry and downcast because of the Lords rejection. He thought he could find favor with God without a righteous offering. He tried to give worship without first giving his heart. But instead of acceptance that brings joy, he found only rejection that brings frustration. I wonder how many of us have tried also to use the Cain system in our relationship with God. The deception is to think that lifes fulfillment lies in the affordable budget before God. But like many other areas of our Christian living, the temptation is to put trust in our own way of giving, rather than Gods grace.

The main problem is clearly understanding the definition of sacrifice. The flesh looks at giving as death, because it stands to lose something. So flesh convinces you of your unhappiness to part with what is yours. But think for a minute how Jesus approached it. The Bible tells us that He put His fathers will first, and put others welfare before Himself. Is it possible for us as servants to be any more exempt than our master when it comes to sacrifice? I think not!

The fact is that many of us lack Joy in our christian walk because we don't live sacrificially. If "It is more blessed to give than to receive" why is so much emphasis given to receiving.

Many times people feel that their church, Pastor, family, friends, even the government owes them something because they have problems. But their focus ought to be on giving not receiving. This is why many never climb out of their despair. They haven't discovered that the life of God operates within the parameters of sacrificial giving, and where there is life of God - there is joy.

2 Cor 8:1-2..And now brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.
2 Cor 8:5..And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with Gods will.

The churches of Macedonia were generous givers, giving far more than paul imagined they'd do, because of their poverty. But this Grace was only possible because they first gave their hearts to God. This made them sensitive to the Lords will. So that after they had communed with God, the Lord moved them with the needs of the church and ministry, even though they themselves experienced lack. Notice Paul comments further on the "overflowing Joy" that was present during their severe trial, poverty, and giving.

In verse 5....Paul shows us that sacrificial giving is directly related to our devotional life. He is saying, that it is possible to perceive our giving toward others, as a reflection of our giving toward God personally. If we give poorly, it's a sign of a poor devotional life with God. Because God loves His people and so should we. Some may argue this point by saying they can give in other ways and still love God, but giving to the Lords work is never an option, but a command. If we hold back the tithe from the storehouse even in part, not only do we rob God, but downgrade the quality of ministry we are feeding from.

As a minister it has never been a worry of mine how God would support His work, knowing that God is well aware of His Churches need, and can easily communicate to His people how it should be met. However, the one concern I do have at times is - will people give of themselves first to the Lord for the keeping of His will? Unless the church hear from God they will never recognize the need otherwise. And unless Christians are in the place of prayer they will never hear what the keeping of Gods will is. Even then, will they give affordably like Cain, or the righteous way of Abel? Such is our choice between rejection and acceptance based on a attitude of sacrifice. When God judges our offering as acceptable, then there will be joy in the heart of the giver.