Giving Is from God
This article is adapted from a sermon Sam Storms gave on November 30, 2008.
The biblical fact of the matter is that, ultimately speaking, God has no need of us.
I know this cuts deeply into our sense of self-importance, but look closely at what the apostle Paul said to the Athenian philosophers: "He is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything" (Acts 17:25). In another text, Paul extols God precisely because "from him and through him and to him are all things" (Rom. 11:36). If God already owns everything and is in himself perfectly complete, what do we think we could possibly add to his already immeasurably sufficient being? The truth is that the God of the Bible is the kind of God whose greatest delight comes not from making demands but from meeting needs.
Yet, tragically, many Christians exhaust themselves in trying to shore up what they think are deficiencies in God. Their approach to the Christian life is to give to God what they evidently think he lacks. But God is most honored not when we strive to bolster what we mistakenly think is his diminishing supply, but when we come to him humbly to receive from his mercy and goodness what only he can provide. Contrary to what some have said about Christian Hedonism, that in all its talk of seeking pleasure and happiness it is man-centered, it is actually profoundly theocentric. Here's how.
Consider the description of the spiritual dynamics involved when David undertook what may have been the largest building program in history. In 1 Chronicles 29:6-20, we read of the wealth that was raised for the construction of the temple. From a purely human perspective, it would appear that David and the Israelites are to be congratulated for giving so generously to the work of the Lord. But we must look beyond what can be seen and discern the hand of God at work.
It's truly a remarkable story. "With all my ability" (29:2) and "in all my delight" (29:3), says David, "I have provided for the house of my God." The people likewise "offered willingly" (29:6) and "with a whole heart" (29:9) to supply the resources necessary for this massive undertaking. Again, "in the uprightness" of his heart David "willingly" (29:17) offered all these things. No one gave under compulsion or out of fear or guilt. They rejoiced in the freedom and opportunity to participate.
But there is more to this story than meets the eye. In order that we might see what the naked eye cannot see, the Holy Spirit has inscripturated for us David's prayer. Behind the scenes of glad, willing, happy human endeavor is the hand of an all-sufficient God who overflows in abundance to his people.
We first see it in the fact that David immediately blesses God (29:10). His response to this tremendous influx of earthly wealth and riches is to bless God, not men or women. This blessing takes the form of a dozen affirmations concerning who God is and what he does, all of which are revealed in the willingness of his people to give so much to the building of the temple.
In verse 11, David states that "all that is in the heavens and the earth" belongs to God. This is why giving is all about God: He already owns everything. He owns your clothes and your car and your bank account and your body and your house and your books and your jewelry and your television set(s) — he owns it all. He owns your mind and your emotions and your spirit and your eyes and your ears and your hair and your blood and your toenails. He has graciously and freely given us these things to use and enjoy for his glory, and he may take them back anytime he wishes. We are trustees or stewards of what God possesses. He also owns every dime (or sheckel) that we might willingly and joyfully choose to give him.