In the defense of the wealthy and the poor, I offer the following. Beyond the issue of who is intrinsically blessed is the true fact that all who give are blessed, be they rich or poor. This blessing is tied to the attitude and act of giving, not the amount of the gift, and contrary to my thinking, you do not have to be rich before you can give.
For some words on giving, I turn to my wife, who knows much more about this than I do. This is because she is a giver both in her natural and her spiritual giftings.
In 2 Corinthians 8 Paul provides two examples of giving from two ends of the scale – the poverty-stricken Macedonians who gave beyond their means, out of their deep, desperate poverty and the beyond-belief rich giving of Jesus, who gave everything up and became poor that we might be rendered incredibly rich.
There is a blessing which befalls the rich or the poor, and that would be the blessing of giving. God is not so interested in how much we give, but why we give. He reads the heart as he did the widow who cast two mites into the treasury – and that was all she had. Jesus, observing her, said, “She has given more than all the rest combined…” (Mark 12:42-44, Luke 21:2-4)
Understand the vast possibilities of giving, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Corinthians 9:6). This is the law of the harvest. And not only is Paul encouraging generosity, in the next verse he asks that it be given voluntary, “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.”
I think in these days, recognition is often over played, almost causing us to forget what our desire was when giving to meet a need. Jesus said, “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:3-5).
I am probably the worse offender when wanting to recognize an act of kindness as illustrated in what a family recently told us, “We do not feel comfortable having our name recognized for our gift. If there is a way you want to announce the gift that you feel will benefit the Catch members that is fine, but we don’t see that disclosing our names is appropriate.”
I forgot – but they remembered – that everything comes from the Lord and, therefore they gave expectantly.
Blessing is based on a “readiness” to give – a built-in heart’s desire: “For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have” (2 Corinthians 8:12).
In the early days of the Catch, we were completely funded by one man, whom we love dearly, and who loves us. He did not give because he was wealthy or because he believed John or I were touched by some divine light. Rather, he was placing his hope through his investment into the vastness that the Internet offered to provide unlimited opportunities to equip men and women to offer the Gospel of Welcome to everyone, everywhere. We have grown over the years and continue to look to this man of wealth, who now has encouraged others to give to further our ability to serve more people, more effectively.
From our first investor, we have come to know many givers – and they tell us that giving stimulates prayer from the giver to the benefactor. “And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you” (2 Corinthians 9:14).
Not only does giving awaken gratitude in people’s hearts, it stimulates people to pray, and when people pray, many become the beneficiary of the blessing of God in ways that perhaps we will never fully know.
And finally, giving glorifies God with the thanksgiving of many. God delights in seeing his people generously respond to needs, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27)
Paul concludes his thinking on giving in one brief sentence: intent on knowing the Giver. “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15).
When we are intent on knowing the Giver of such a radical gift, we all become Grace-givers and thus miracles that mirror God’s character. We recognize we have received much at his hand. We know we do not deserve it, but it is given to each of us in Jesus Christ. His giving freely stimulates us to meet needs around us; opens our eyes and hands to see where to give, knowing that it increases our joy and delights the heart of God.
Thanks be to the one that gives and thanks be to God that all, as a result are blessed. I do not think God cares about alms as much as cares about action.
From the widow’s mite to the millionaire’s might, “It is [always] more blessed to give than to receive.”