Are You Giving Generously From The Heart?

In Chapter Three of the Book of Malachi, God tells his people, “Return to me, and I will return to you.” Why did they need to return? In what way had they left him to begin with? He goes on to explain that they had departed by “robbing him” of their tithes and offerings.

Yes, even mere mortals can rob the eternal God!

We “rob” him by refusing to share our wealth with the needy people around us (Mal. 3:10). We “curse” ourselves by our own selfishness (v. 9). This is an obligation of the individual believer. What applied to them in antiquity, applies to each one of us today.

Why are we only tipping $2 at the restaurant? Why do we ignore the homeless beggar? Why are we stingy when the collection plate is passed? Why do we live in excess and abundance while failing to show any significant kindness to the people around us? Common sense and Scripture teach us to treat others better than this!

Even the ungodly understand this principle, known to them as, “what goes around comes around”, or “karma”. It is a moral law which teaches, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Luke 6:31).

It is true that inflation is horrible, and our country is going through a hard time economically, making life even more challenging for everyone. It is true that many of us are struggling financially, but we make things even more difficult for ourselves with our own greediness, and by looking only after our own interests.

The Bible teaches us that God withholds reward when we are selfish. On the other hand, he grants many blessings to generous givers.

The context of Malachi Chapter Three goes on to state that God will “open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be enough room to store it” (v. 10).

If we are hoarding wealth, and refusing to share with others in need, it indicates a lack of faith in God’s power to bless us with delightful things. It shows an unwillingness to “test” his promises of protection and replenishment of our storehouses.

Scripture is replete with this timeless principle. Consider the following passages:

Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice.

Psalm 112:5

One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. People curse the one who hoards grain, but they pray God’s blessing on the one willing to sell.

Proverbs 11:24 – 26

Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.

Proverbs 19:17

When we get to the New Testament, the concept is presented with even more detail and urgency:

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

2 Corinthians 9:6 – 8

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Hebrews 13:16

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

1 John 3:17 & 18

Many respond with the excuse, “I just don’t have much to give. I am barely making ends meet as it is”. The problem lies not in the failure to meet a certain quota in giving, but with the condition of the heart.

The poor widow gave next to nothing, but Jesus said she had “put in more than others” (Luke 21:3). In her poverty, Jesus clarifies, she generously gave all she had to live on (v. 4). We do not hear the rest of her story, but if this principle is true, God certainly provided for her in an abundant way.

When giving, it is important not to make a public showing of it. We are warned by Jesus that pompously giving to attract attention to ourselves will result in the forfeiture of our reward.

Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

Matthew 6:1

While we are thinking about giving, let us spend some time considering this principle as it applies to the marriage relationship.

If you are married, think about how God has blessed you. Think about what it would be like if you were alone right now. God was under no obligation to give you a partner in life so that your needs for companionship and sexual fulfillment would be met – but he did!

Therefore, “husbands, love your wives” (Eph. 5:25). Have an attitude of gratitude and live thankfully! If your wife is not keeping up on her end, think about how much better your relationship will become once you apply the principle of generous giving from the heart.

The law of reciprocity teaches us that we will receive blessings from a spouse who is being given an abundance of affectionate words, sexual expression, gifts, and time.

Although each person is different, and we all require different levels of affection from one another, this general principle is true and indisputable.

We don’t know exactly why Potiphar’s wife tried to sleep with Joseph, but had Potiphar given generously to meet her sexual needs (and probably more importantly, her emotional needs), she probably would not have looked elsewhere for intimacy (cf. Gen. 39:1 – 12).

Thankfully, Joseph feared God and would not commit adultery with her, but the same is not true among most men. Neglecting your wife may drive her into the arms of an immoral man.

For this reason, Paul advises believers to never “withhold sex from one another” (1 Cor. 7:5). This also entails the withholding of all the pleasurable and satisfying contact related to sex. Selfishness is never good for a relationship, and the consequences of frustrating one another are dire.

In every aspect of marriage, giving generously from the heart is an important part of improving the quality of our lives. Peter encouraged believing men to “live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel” (1 Peter 3:7).

Understanding your spouse’s affection needs is vital to engendering good feelings and strengthening the marriage bond. You may see her neediness as “weakness”, but meeting her exactly where she is will reap a bountiful harvest of blessings for you and your marriage.

As we enter into this holiday season and commemorate the gift of Jesus to a sinful and undeserving world, let us remember the opportunity to give liberally and share with others. Let us imitate God’s generosity and loving-kindness.

By giving generously, we can show our love and glorify our Heavenly Father at the same time. There can be no doubt that he will provide for us abundantly as we do so! – Michael A. Hildreth

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