God’s people have always been among the most generous people of the world. Both in their contributions to the church as well as their private help to those in need, they consistently set the pace in charitable giving. Studies show that religious households contribute nearly twice as much to charities as do their non-religious counterparts. Further, the level of giving generally increases with the level of active involvement in a religious group, or congregation. I have known of Christians who have been questioned by the federal government about their charitable contributions, because they were so far above the national norms. They had to prove by receipts, canceled checks, or other evidence that they had actually given as much as they claimed.
There is an interesting event in the life of Israel, which occurred as funds were being raised to construct the tabernacle, the center of their worship. Surprisingly, the people actually contributed too much, and had to be restrained from further giving. “And all the wise men, that wrought all the work of the sanctuary, came every man from his work which they wrought; and they spake unto Moses, saying, The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work which Jehovah commanded to make. And Moses gave commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary. So the people were restrained from bringing. For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much,” (Ex. 36:4-7). Can you imagine the people being told, “Stop! You’ve given enough!”
Christians understand the supreme importance of Christ and the church. They recognize that the cause of Christ is of the highest priority, even more important than the things on which people typically spend most of their money and time. “Seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you,” (Mt. 6:33). Christians have a different way of looking at material things—a different world view. They “get it” that all these possessions are merely on loan from God. Therefore, they don’t “love” them in the sense that worldly people do. They actually take it seriously when the Bible commands, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world,” (1 Jn. 2:15).
Christians are also taught from their earliest ages to help out those who are weaker and less fortunate than themselves. “Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and keep oneself unspotted from the world,” (James 1:27). For them, it’s not all about “getting ahead” in this life. There is a sympathy, a love for others which is often sadly lacking in others. “Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that he himself said, It is more blessed to give than to receive,” (Acts 20:35).
If there is a risk, a danger in this mentality, it is that Christians may actually give too much, and hurt themselves in the process. I have known of godly Christians who actually had very little of what the world calls wealth, who yet were the first in line to help a brother or sister in need, or to contribute to the medical expenses of some stranger. Sacrificial giving is a way of life for the Christian, because Christ set the example of the most sacrificial life of all.
“You’ve given enough!” they were told. “You must not give anymore. You have gone above and beyond the call of duty, now it’s time to take care of yourself.” Imagine the blessings God showers upon a people so unselfish.
Congregations and individuals which approach life in this way tend to make out just fine. God takes care of them, because they are relying on him. “You can’t out-give God” as they say. But when we begin to turn inward, becoming worried and fearful, we better watch out, for we soon betray a lack of faith in God himself.
As Christians, may we always keep a generous eye on others, and keep the focus where it belongs. With such a mindset we can look forward to the following words of our Savior: “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry, and ye gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me,” (Mt. 25:34-36).
In essence he says, “You’ve given enough. Come now and let me show you what I have to give unto you!”
-by Robert C. Veil, Jr.