The very title of this piece will be enough for some. "There is no end to giving," they will say; "we are tired of appeals! Write on some other subject!" No! this is our subject—this is our present theme.
But before entering upon it, let us ask the complainer, Are you tired of receiving? Is it true, or is it not, that the Lord's mercies are "new every morning"? Does he daily load you with his benefits? Have you received one favor too many? Can you wish that the Lord should get tired of giving to you?
Suppose God should say, "I have given him health so long, money so often, innumerable comforts for so many years—I am tired of giving, I will give him no more!" And suppose an angel was dispatched from his throne to tell you this—how would you feel? Yet it would only be acting on your own principle, and manifesting the same spirit as you manifest.
Let us pen a few thoughts on the subject: they cannot hurt you—and they may do you good.
Who enables you to give? What do you have—that you have not received from God? The God in whose hand your breath is, and whose are all your ways, he gave you wealth, or talent, or opportunity to earn a living. You have not one penny for which you are not indebted to him. He gave, and he must continue to give—or your brooks will soon dry up. He must preserve for you—what he gives, or you will soon lose it!
There are ways and means enough to deprive you of all you have, and they will be successful, unless he prevents it with the blessings of his goodness.
Who commands you to give? Your Creator—who gave you your being. Your Redeemer—who gave his life for your ransom. Your Comforter—who gave you life when dead in sin, and comfort when dejected and cast down. Your God—who gave you life, and breath, and all things. He who holds you responsible for all he has given; who, when he gave, wrote on his gifts, "Use them for my glory! Enjoy them, as one that is accountable for them. Improve them, for I intend to come and take account of my servants, to see how much every one has gained by trading on my account!"
Who notices your gifts? Your Father—to whom you have daily to pray. Your Judge—before whose judgment-seat you must shortly stand. He sends the appeal to your door. He notices with what feelings you read or hear the application. He observes the motives from which, and the rules by which you give. He who had his eye on the poor widow casting her two mites into the treasury of the Temple—has his eye on your heart, your property, and your gifts! His eyes are as a flame of fire, and no wonder if they flash with displeasure when some professors give to his poor, or his cause.
Who set the example of giving? He who spared not his own Son—but delivered him up for us all. He who gives "grace and glory," and pledges his word that "no good thing will he withhold from those who walk uprightly." He, "who, though he was rich—yet for our sakes became poor, that we, through his poverty, might be rich." "Be merciful therefore, as your Father in heaven is merciful." Imitate him, who not only gave to all applicants, "but who went about doing good." Believe him, for he spoke from experience when he said, "It is more blessed to give—than to receive." Your example is perfect—copy it as near as you can: and if you meet sometimes with ingratitude, if sometimes you are deceived, remember he "causes his sun to shine on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." "As we have, therefore, opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto those who are of the household of faith."
The Lord approves of our giving; this ought to be sufficient. He wishes all his children to be liberal, like himself. He would have them all trained up "to give to him that needs." He hates covetousness; he despises the niggardly; he abhors selfishness. Covetousness is ranked with idolatry in his own word, and the "lovers of their own selves" are placed among the apostates of the last days. Two whole chapters (2 Corinthians 8 and 9) are taken up in urging the duty of liberality, in prompting the Lord's people to give; while no other duty in the whole code of Christian morals has such attention paid to it by the inspiring Spirit. The Lord well knew the natural covetousness of the human heart; he well knew the excuses men would frame, and how they would attempt to put this duty away from them—and therefore the prominence he gives it, and the arguments by which he enforces it.
The Lord has promised to reward giving, "The liberal soul shall be made fat." "Give—and it shall be given unto you." "Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. "He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me. Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man's reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward." Matthew 10:39-42. See also, Matthew 25:34-46.
Occasionally, like Moses, we may have "respect unto the recompense of the reward," but generally it should not be so; the love of Jesus should constrain us, zeal for his glory should urge us, and a sense of our accountability should impel us.
But alas! too many forget, if they really believe, that they are accountable for all they get—and how they get it; for all they spend—and how they spend it; for all they give—and to what end they give it; for all they keep—and why they keep it.
The doctrine of giving, as laid down in the New Testament, as practiced by the primitive Church, is certainly not understood or admired in our day as it should be. What should we think of a people asking a minister of Christ, with much entreaty, to receive a gift, in order to dispense the same for the comfort of the Lord's poor, or the furtherance of the Lord's cause, as we read that the believers at Macedonia did? 2 Corinthians 8:1, 5.
It is because we sow sparingly—that we reap sparingly.
It is because some give so little— that they have so little enjoyment of what they keep.
The Lord not only blesses what we give when we give from a good motive, and in proportion to our means; but he blesses what we keep, and "the blessing of the Lord makes rich—and he adds no sorrow with it." The Lord has published to the world that he considers himself the liberal man's debtor: "He who has pity upon the poor lends unto the Lord; and that which he has given—will He pay him again." But how few appear satisfied with the security! How few, at least, act as if they were!
Everything is to us—just what God makes it! If, therefore, we keep when we ought to give, we shall find that "he who loves silver shall not be satisfied with silver, nor he who loves gold with increase." Oh, that the professors of the present day did but believe the inspired statement, "People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." 1 Timothy 6:9, 10; and that of our adorable Savior, "Take heed, and beware of covetousness; for a man's life does not consist in the abundance of the things which he possesses."
Reader! Are you liberal? Do you give according to your means? Look around you; there are many of God's creatures which need help; have you the means, have you the heart to help them? There are many of God's children who are needy, and Jesus takes what is given to them—as given to himself. Can you let them lack—while you hoard? Why, perhaps what you thus hoard up—may have the Lord's curse rest upon it; and then it may only be fuel for your children's lusts, or temptations to lead them into sin!
There is God's cause; chapels have to be built, ministers supported, missionaries sent to the heathen, Bibles and tracts distributed, and a number of other things to be attended to, all of which call for money. And the money called for—the Lord's people ought to furnish. It is given to them for the purpose, and they are now put upon their trial. They are stewards of God's money—and it always looks suspicious when stewards die rich!
Who, then, refuses to give—to give up to the full amount of his means? What is he? An honest man? A faithful man? A gracious man? A Christian, or a Christlike man? How can it be? Is it honest to hoard up—what he ought to give out? Is it faithful to appropriate another's property—to our own purposes? Is it gracious to withhold from God—to gratify self? Is it Christ-like, to hoard or spend in flesh-pleasing—what we are entrusted with to further the Lord's cause? Surely, not!
Then, if we have any regard for God's command—if we wish to please our Savior—if we would rejoice the hearts of the poor saints—if we would encourage the Lord's ministers—if we would send the Gospel to the perishing heathen—if we would secure our Master's approbation, or prepare for the plaudit of "Well done, good and faithful servant!" let us attend to the injunction of Immanuel, "Freely you have received—freely give."
Let us lay our gold and silver by our coffin, let us weigh them at the grave's mouth, let us estimate their value—in the light of eternity, and then go forth and act under the impression produced. May the Holy Spirit give us all the mind that was in Christ Jesus, and so fill us with love to him, and zeal for his glory, and sympathy with perishing souls—that we may give freely, frequently, cheerfully, and up to the highest point of our ability! This would be to answer the end of our creation, redemption, and sanctification. This would please God, benefit our fellow men, and bring honor to ourselves!
This would make us resemble the greatest, most glorious Giver! "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God!" Ephesians 5:1-2