Sacrificial Giving Strengthens Faith

“Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, `Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.’ Then Jesus said to him, `Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.'” – Luke 19: 8-10 (NRSV)

From the story of the generous widow we learned that genuine giving is proportionate. How much we give matters only in proportion to how much we keep. From the story of Zacchaeus we learn the second principle of genuine giving: genuine giving is sacrificial. Giving out of our excess is not genuine giving. The sacrificial giving of a sinner moved Jesus heart and spirit. I’m not saying you shouldn’t give if you’re not doing it sacrificially; what I am saying is that I don’t believe that kind of giving srengthens your faith, the kind of faith that brings you salvation and eternal life.

Let me give you an illustration from the physical world. If you want to strengthen your muscles you must work them beyond their current ability. In other words, you must lift a weight that is heavy enough to exhaust you by lifting it 5-7 times. Lifting a very light weight many times will not strengthen your muscles.

One of the reasons I believe God calls us to give sacrificially is that it strengthens our faith and helps us grow spiritually. If we merely give out of our excess we don’t give God the opportunity to prove his faithfulness. That’s like lifting a very light weight. It won’t strengthen your muscles. But when we give sacrificially, when we give to the point of it hurting a bit, we exercise our faith – we learn to trust in God by giving him a chance to prove himself trustworthy.

This is at the heart of this whole stewardship conversation…. the issue of trust. Every piece of money minted in this country has the same four words printed on it, “In God we trust.” That’s the biggest lie in America. If we’re honest we’ll admit that most of us put a lot more trust in the security of money than we do in the security of God’s promises. There’s a word for that; it’s called idolatry. I believe that money is the greatest idol in our culture. And nothing breaks the spell of material idolatry like proportionate, sacrificial stewardship. Let me be clear: giving isn’t for God’s benefit. It isn’t for the church’s benefit. Genuine giving benefits us. It strengthens our faith and protects us from idolatry.

Bringing It Home
1. Be honest…. is your current giving sacrificial, or are you giving out of your excess? In what ways does your giving impact the way that you live?
2. Spend some time in prayer and let the Holy Spirit search your heart for any hint of idolatry in relationship to your finances. Your checkbook and credit card statements might just help your meditation!

Father, it’s so easy to say that we trust in you and in your provision for us and yet we so often find our deepest security in what we own or in our savings. Help us to distinguish between our wants and our needs. Teach us to simplify the former and trust you for the latter. Set us free from any financial bondage that we may suffer from, that we might be free to give as you graciously provide. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Jeff Marian
Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Burnsville, MN

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5 Responses

  1. denis says:

    i am unsure ‘sacrificial’ giving isn’t getting mixed up with a contemporary concept of what sacrificial is or means. I see nothing in the N.T. on giving that suggests giving til it ‘hurts’. Giving is God’s way of raising His children, not raising money for a start.
    as far as i understand it then in line with it being God’s way of raising his children – there are certain balances;
    1) a person ought not feel the ‘should’ or be emotionally charged/blackmailed in their giving.
    2) as a person decides in their own heart what they should give
    3) whatever the amount they decide, they need to be able to do it cheerfully
    4) it needs to be by faith (faith comes by hearing God

    all of these things need to be in play at the same time when deciding upon a figure – and it is nobody elses business except the person before their God. He may expand them a little from time to time – but… all of the above will be in play.

    there is more but space etc

    i do not read of giving in the New Tstament ’til it hurts’ – nowhere.
    best regards

  2. PRINCE says:

    thanks for justice done on this topic GODBLESS YOU. FROM PASTOR PRINCE BETHEL

  3. Camille Goudeseune says:

    Chris, the danger you speak of is real. It destroyed any honor held by the word “televangelist”, for example.

    But it is just a danger, not a law of physics. Each case must be evaluated individually. For some Christians, the GREATER danger may be using this reasoning as an excuse to avoid giving.

  4. Chris Smit says:

    Hi Jeff

    Have you noticed how that sacrificial giving in the bible was always directed at the POOR. Jesus says in Mat 25 that giving to the poor equates to giving to GOD.

    Yet sadly today churches are the ones who demand to be the focus of sacrificial giving. How dare they when Jesus set the example in that when he asked the rich young ruler to sell all …and give it to the POOR…and not to himself.

    The sin of coveteousness is never clearer than in the churches of the world today as when we hear preachers say “give to GOD”…and meaning that THEY are Gods designated recipients rather than the poor.

    The world see this and is sickened!

    The religious institutions of today are still ‘devouring widows houses’…as they make a pretense of their prayers.


    • Jon says:

      A suggestion that I have for you is to give to missions. Missionaries and those that they are ministering to are often some of the poorest people on the planet. Most homeless here in America have a dry place to sleep, some bedding, some food, and some alcohol. Giving to those involved in missions is both giving to the poor and to God’s work, all through one system. Sacrificial giving is necessary. God does not want most of us. That is still sin.
      Deuteronomy 6:5
      “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”
      Anything less is sin. Granted that principles of stewardship also say that we should multiply our money, but just because we have money does not mean that we have to spend some of it on ourselves. We can put some of it towards increase, under the plan to give it to God when it is increased, as long as our plan is not to spend it on ourselves. However, we should still keep the giving at the forefront.

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