Basics: Give generously

by Kyle
published July 18, 2015


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I recently finished something I haven't been looking forward to.

Every year, I read through the entire Bible, but I never read it straight through, cover to cover. I skip around so that I can procrastinate reading one particular book: Leviticus.

The latter three books of Moses (Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) can be difficult to wade through, but I've always found Leviticus to be particularly challenging. If you would like a good example of why, I invite you to turn to Leviticus 13:47-59, in which you can find detailed instructions on how God wanted the people of Israel to clean mildew from their "wool or linen, or anything of leather." Something of God is revealed in every letter of Scripture, but sometimes it's a little harder to find.

There is a reward at the end of Leviticus for readers who are patient enough to get there. In Leviticus 25, God reveals to Moses the concept of the Year of Jubilee, which God wanted to happen every 50th year. When Israel entered the land God had promised them, he wanted the nation to divide the land between the tribes and families in each tribe fairly based on the size of each tribe. Land that belonged to a family was supposed to stay in that family. Permanently selling land in Israel was not supposed to be possible. Instead, God told Moses that if someone wanted to sell some land because they were in some kind of financial need, the value of the land was supposed to be calculated by the number of harvests until the next Year of Jubilee.

In a twist that would make any capitalist squirm, all land in the whole nation of Israel was to be given back to the family that originally owned it and all slaves were supposed to be set free on the Year of Jubilee.

If Israel had obeyed, this would have had the interesting effect of preventing any one person or group of people from being extremely wealthy. Some scholars believe this effect to have been God's purpose behind such an institution, but I disagree. This certainly one of his goals because he said, "Therefore you shall not oppress one another, but you shall fear your God" (Leviticus 25:17), but I don't think it was his primary goal.

When God himself explained his motives, he told Moses, "the land shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are strangers and sojourners with Me" (Leviticus 25:23).

Here, in Leviticus 25, lies the final answer to biblical giving.

Often, discussions on giving tend either to focus on the minimum a Christian should give or on the attitude with which a Christian should give. The former ignores a serious heart problem while the latter approach tends to ignore an uncomfortable objective fact.

The reality which should inform the way we give is that we don't actually "own" anything in the first place. In 1 Corinthians 4:7, Paul asks, "What do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?"

Is there anything in your possession that God did not provide you? Is there anything you have which God cannot take away? Job, after losing his family, points out, "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away" (Job 1:21). Therefore, I urge you to carefully examine the stuff you have and evaluate it with a few ideas in mind.

Your stuff doesn't belong to you. It was entrusted to you by God for the purpose of blessing others as much as it was given to you to bless you.

God has given you a lot. Even if God has not given you as much as some people you know, he has given you more than other people you know. Even when you don't see it, God has dealt with you generously.

God wants you to imitate his own generosity. The command from 3 John 11 is believers to "imitate what is good." If you count God's generosity toward you as good, you should imitate it.

What you believe leads what you do. So many answers on giving address the surface of what the Bible says about it rather than the underlying beliefs that would lead someone to ask, "How much am I supposed to give?" in the first place. If you begin to believe these three objective facts about all your stuff, I guarantee you will give more and differently. Your questions regarding giving will get better, too. Believers who view giving biblically will tend to ask the question,"Is there anything I'm not supposed to give?"

That list is much shorter.

What do you think?

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