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Experiencing God in Giving: Seeing Your Giving from God’s Perspective

By Henry Blackaby

Henry Blackaby heads Henry Blackaby Ministries (formerly Life Change Ministries), a Christian teaching and discipleship organization in Atlanta, Ga. He preached this sermon at the annual Generous Giving Conference in Sarasota, Fla., February 28-March 2, 2002.

Most evangelical Christians would agree that the Lord could return at any moment. If He were to return today, do you think He would be pleased with the amount of money that the people of God have accumulated? Or to put it differently, do you think He would be pleased with the amount of money that we have given away to extend His kingdom? I believe that this is one of the greatest tragedies in the church today—the amount of money we have accumulated, when God intended that we should rather give it away to accomplish the things that are dear to His heart.

Everything that we possess has been entrusted to us by God. In Deuteronomy 6, God says, “When you come over into the promised land and you have houses and things, be careful that you do not say, ‘My hand has done this.’ ” God said to the children of Israel about their prosperity, “You had no capacity to do this. You didn’t dig the wells; you didn’t build the buildings.” Now you might object about your own prosperity, “Yes, I did! I accomplished all this.” But God would respond, “You may have been active in these things coming about, but the whole thing happened not by your energy, but by divine initiative.” So, if you are a child of God, just like the children of Israel, be careful that you do not say that your hand did these things. These things came because God gave them to you, and He will hold you accountable for what you do with His gifts. God says to you, “What I do next in your life will depend on how you use what I have given you so far. What is more, it will even affect your family and your children.”

In short, it is crucial to see your wealth from God’s perspective. To do so, you must ask these three questions: (1) How does your wealth affect you? (2) How does your wealth affect others? (3) How does your wealth affect God’s kingdom? I want you to realize the incredible impact your giving can have on you, on others, and on the kingdom of God itself.

How Your Giving Affects You

The apostle Paul writes:
    You are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift (2 Corinthians 9:11-15).
Now, we understand that Christ Himself is the “indescribable gift” mentioned here. But I think it is much deeper than that. I think the apostle Paul is saying that God has entrusted us with many indescribable gifts that have great potential for blessing not only others but us as well. Every one of us wants to live in the center of God’s will, living in such a way as to give glory to Him in all things. Well, this passage tells us how our generosity gives tremendous glory to God, both from us who give and from those who receive. Generous giving is a blessing to you, the giver!

In Luke 6:38, Jesus makes a remarkable statement about how God responds to your giving, how God Himself gives. This verse gives us a glimpse of God’s perspective on our giving, which, when I read it, makes me tremble not to give. Jesus says, “Give, and it will be given to you.” How does God give? You may have heard the catchphrase, “You can’t outgive God.” It is a wonderful phrase, but I think that most people don’t understand what they are saying when they use it. We need to look at it more carefully. “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be put into your bosom.” Then comes the statement that makes me tremble: “For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

That statement is an absolute with God. He makes no exceptions and plays no favorites. You begin by giving a little bit, then God shows you what His giving is like, so that you will know how to give thereafter. When God gives, he does not measure it out to the ounce so that nothing is wasted. He does not pinch His pennies. He gives so much that it runs over. In fact, He presses it down and shakes it up, so as to make sure that it runs over. “That is how I give to you,” God says. “Now, the measure that you use is the measure that will be measured back to you.” If any Scripture ought to cause us to be generous givers, surely it is that one! And you know how those words of Jesus affected the early church. Those first generous givers gave all that they had to become partners with God, and all of heaven and earth heard the joy that resulted.

How Your Giving Affects Others

If you learn to see your giving from God’s perspective, your attitude will change entirely. You will come to recognize the profound effect of your giving on others. Like many other people, I have been deeply impacted by the faith of the 19th-century English orphanage minister George Mueller. According to his biography, Mueller relied completely on God to provide funds for his ministry, in such a way that Mueller never asked for money from anyone. Mueller believed, and I believe as well, that God had commanded him to live that way. And God was faithful to cause other saints to give to Mueller’s orphanages, even without being asked.

To this day, millions of people are encouraged to walk by faith because of George Mueller’s faith. Mueller himself could never have known that, but from God’s perspective, one person’s obedience profoundly affects everyone else. What if Mueller had refused to walk by faith? How many people would it have affected down through the centuries? If you see your life from God’s perspective, you will be able to practice that kind of faith, or that kind of generosity. The Lord may have given you great wealth so that you can provide for the George Muellers of our day.

Another biography that has influenced my life is that of Hudson Taylor, the missionary to China. Like Mueller, Taylor was on his knees before God, asking Him to provide for the work of the gospel in China. And God answered Taylor’s prayers by touching the hearts of Christians who had the wealth to give. Remarkably, God even touched George Mueller’s heart to become a prayer partner with Hudson Taylor. That’s another example of how one person’s obedience can affect many others.

All four of my sons were called to be pastors. The oldest is now a seminary president. He and his brother are co-pastors of a church. My second son is a pastor in Norway and a chaplain to the NATO troops. My daughter is an overseas missionary as well. Do you know why my four sons became pastors and my daughter a missionary? If you ask them, they all point to the generous giving of God’s people that happened when we prayed to God in faith. They witnessed firsthand that God is faithful and that His people are faithful, and so they went out to serve the Lord in response. You see, you just cannot tell how your faithful giving to one ministry family might affect many others for years to come.

How Your Giving Affects the Kingdom of God

The Scripture teaches that your giving has kingdom-sized implications. It affects not only you and the people around you, but the whole worldwide kingdom of God. When you see your giving from God’s perspective, what a grand vision it is! I have always believed that as long as God knows where I am, He can cause anybody in the world to know where I am. That is the only way that people I have never met could feel compelled to give to my ministry. There is a much bigger picture than we are able to see. It is not just that you give your little gift and hope God will be pleased with it. No, when you give, even if you cannot see it, you send ripples out through the whole kingdom of God. You contribute to process by which people see the faithfulness of God and come to trust in Him.

If you have great wealth, it is important that you have a deep sensitivity to God. You are a co-worker with God in a much bigger picture than you can see. Consider what would happen if you simply decided to do as you like with your money. You would be completely outside the will of God, using your wealth to work at cross purposes with His kingdom, which is a frightening prospect. Many times I hear people say, “I would really like to do this or that with my money.” And my immediate response is, “That’s all fine and good, but how does it square with what God wants to do with your money?” Ask yourself that question. How do your goals square with God’s goals? How are you responding to His leading? God has many servants who are stepping out in faith, trusting Him to provide for their needs. And the apostle Paul tells us that those people will praise God because they know that He will move the hearts of those who have the resources to give.

I can talk this way because I live this way. A number of years ago, I moved to Saskatchewan to pastor a little church of 10 people that wanted to quit. The total income of the church was $90 per month. My wife and I had four children and were expecting our fifth. And God began to press on me, “Henry, I want you to trust in me. Every page of the Bible teaches you to trust in me. And when you trust in me, I am able to cause anybody in the world to know where you are. I will provide for you, and when I do, you will bear witness to it, and great glory will come to me.”

Out of that little church, we started 38 new congregations in the 12 years that I was there. Each of those 38 churches required a pastor, so we prayed to God for pastors. And every pastor had to pay moving expenses and living expenses, so we prayed to God for funds. And every one of those pastors was provided for. In every case, God sent the money we needed, never late and never short. We never held a fund drive, and none of those pastors had to be bi-vocational. We got letters from people we didn’t even know saying, “We heard you were doing mission work out there, and the Lord laid it on our hearts to send you this money.” And it matched what we needed dollar for dollar. We went to God who is faithful, and we trusted Him, and He provided. Through it all, God was creating opportunities for us to trust and for others to give.

Are you getting an idea of the bigger picture? Do you see how important it is for you to listen to God? God is calling out many people to walk by faith, knowing that He has access to other of His children who can provide for those needs. God works through His people. Do you believe that? The Corinthian Christians did, and Paul commends them for it. They were able to see the situation from God’s perspective. Here was a group of believers in Jerusalem, suffering in great need, crying out to God with all their hearts. So God put it on the hearts of the Corinthian Christians to come together and meet that need. And tremendous thanksgiving went up to heaven as a result. God was honored because there were those who trusted and those who gave, and He brought the two groups together.

Release It All, and Gain Everything in Return

When God gives to His people, His people understand that, and they respond in like kind. They are moved to measure their giving with the same measure that God uses. No longer do they pinch their charitable pennies. They give until it runs over. They realize that the more you give, the more you have. Jesus said, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:25). I have found that to be true of both conversion and giving. When someone comes to God in faith and releases his life to God, at that very moment his soul is saved. But the same thing is true when you come in faith and release the wealth that God has entrusted to you. At that very moment, God releases all His riches back to you. This is a hard truth; it takes some time to work through. You can have it in your head, and it won’t affect you at all. But when you put it in your heart, then you will release it all, and gain everything in return. Is that true? It is absolutely true. I want you to see your giving from God’s perspective, and when you do, you will experience God in your giving.

Questions for Discussion or Reflection
  1. If Christ were to return today, do you think He would be pleased with the amount of money that you have accumulated? Do you think He would be pleased with the amount of money that you have given away to extend His kingdom?

  2. What does Deuteronomy 6 teach about the money God has entrusted to you? What can you claim concerning your accomplishments and possessions? What does God hold you accountable for in regard to your money and possessions?

  3. How does your wealth affect you? How does giving affect you? How is generous giving a blessing to the giver?

  4. How does God give? In what way should this affect your giving?

  5. How does your giving affect others? What is your attitude in giving to help those in need? What can you learn from the illustrations of missionaries George Mueller and Hudson Taylor?

  6. What are the kingdom-sized implications of your giving? How do your goals square with God’s goals? How are you responding to His leading?

  7. How does God work through His people? What specific examples of this can you see in your own life? Specifically, how can God use you to build the Kingdom?

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