How To Give (Pt. 2)

In the first part of this series, we described giving as an act of transferring possession of something abstract, or concrete (tangible) to another. We also said that the purpose of giving is to improve the lives of others.

Giving is one avenue which God has chosen to multiply what we have. Jesus said, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again” (Luke 6:38 KJV). Through our giving, men are directed and made to give us increased proportions of what we have hitherto given to others.

Even though giving is a channel of blessing, the manner in which it is carried out will determine whether the outcome of the action will result in a blessing or otherwise. This is because when it comes to giving, the attitude of the heart and the motives with which a person gives influence the outcome of the action.

In the first part of the series, we outlined some inner conditions for giving well. Now, we would look at conditions (of the heart and mind) that are not appropriate for giving.

 

Conditions Not Appropriate For Giving

1. Don’t give when you are being forced or threatened to give.

“Let each one give [thoughtfully and with purpose] just as he has decided in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver [and delights in the one whose heart is in his gift].” (2 Corinthians 9:7 AMP). I have noticed that time and again in churches and other meetings where ministers attempt to force people to give. This is not proper. The verse we just quoted says God’s people should give what they have decided in their hearts to give and should not give under compulsion. In other words, they should not be forced to give what they are not willing to give. The Word goes on to say that ‘God loves a cheerful giver’. By saying this, it implies that God doesn’t like it when people give under compulsion. In the same vein, God’s people should not be compelled to give with threats. I have seen ministers tell people to ‘give or else such and such evil thing will occur in your life’. This is also wrong. God delights in the one whose heart is in his gift; not in the giver who is full of the fear of evil. If ever you feel threatened or forced to give, know that it is not a good time or moment to give. Wait for a moment or opportunity where you can give thoughtfully and with purpose as the Word prescribes.

2. Don’t give sparingly or scantily.

“Now [remember] this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows generously [that blessings may come to others] will also reap generously [and be blessed].” (2 Corinthians 9:6 AMP). Giving that is sparing or scanty is: not notable, not much, not noticeable, not substantial. Though the Scripture does not explicitly say to avoid this kind of giving, it does not recommend it. This is because of the kind of scanty result this kind of giving results in. God knows that His children will not be pleased by scanty gifts or rewards. Scanty giving results in scanty rewards. If you have ever felt insulted on account of receiving a scanty gift, you will understand why you shouldn’t give in this manner.

3. Don’t give grudgingly.

“Let each one give [thoughtfully and with purpose] just as he has decided in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver [and delights in the one whose heart is in his gift].” (2 Corinthians 9:7 AMP). A person who gives grudgingly displays reluctance or unwillingness to give which is usually coupled with mild levels of anger. God does not accept this kind of giving.

4. Don’t give sorrowfully.

“Remember: A stingy planter gets a stingy crop; a lavish planter gets a lavish crop. I want each of you to take plenty of time to think it over, and make up your own mind what you will give. That will protect you against sob stories and arm-twisting. God loves it when the giver delights in the giving.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7 MSG). Sorrow is in direct contrast with cheerfulness. Since God loves a cheerful giver, we can safely imply that he hates sorrowful giving.

5. Don’t give under constraint, duty, duress or pressure.

“Remember: A stingy planter gets a stingy crop; a lavish planter gets a lavish crop. I want each of you to take plenty of time to think it over, and make up your own mind what you will give. That will protect you against sob stories and arm-twisting. God loves it when the giver delights in the giving.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7 MSG). Do you feel like your arm is being twisted by a minister to give? Curb this by preparing your offering at home before going to church or the cell meeting. God wants our hearts to be protected from this kind of giving because it does not result in blessings.

6. Don’t give to be seen by men.

“Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding. When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—‘playactors’ I call them—treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.” (Matthew 6:1-4 MSG). No comments. I believe these words of Jesus in the sixth chapter of St. Matthew’s gospel have explained it well enough.

God’s Chosen Ones (2)

“You whom I [the Lord] have taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its remotest parts and said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you…” (Isaiah 41:9 AMP, emphasis added)

Every one who is born again has been specially chosen of God. “You are God’s chosen and special people. You are a group of royal priests and a holy nation. God has brought you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1Peter 2:9 CEV). And because we (born again Christians) are special to God, He takes a keen interest in all that concerns us. We are above our adversaries and greater than the world’s economy and systems.

Dealing with Adversaries, Challenges & Economies

“Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish. Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find them, even them that contended with thee: they that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought. For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the Lord, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth: thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff. Thou shalt fan them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them: and thou shalt rejoice in the Lord, and shalt glory in the Holy One of Israel. When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the box tree together: That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the Lord hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it.” (Isaiah 41:11-20 KJV)

  • God’s chosen ones do not need to fret for one second about their adversaries. God has so programmed anyone who contends with His chosen ones for shame and confusion. He says, “Everyone who hates you will be terribly disgraced; those who attack will vanish into thin air.” (Isaiah 41:11 CEV¹)
  • The good part about this is that we (God’s chosen) don’t need to do a single thing about our enemies. God didn’t ask us to fight our adversaries, to criticize them, curse them or pray about their downfall. He only tells us their end result.
  • In the previous article, we talked about how God hardens His chosen ones to difficulties such that they are not moved by challenges. Apart from hardening us to difficulties, He re-constructs us at every stage of our lives to deal with the challenges at that level.
  • For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed [remodeled, spruced up, updated, refurbished, revitalized] day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16 KJV)
  • In Isaiah 41, God talks about making us like new sharp threshing instruments. This connotes that He adds new “extensions”, “plug-ins”, and “features” to our personalities that we did not previously have.
  • Threshing instruments in Isaiah’s day were “made of wood with sharp stones [teeth] placed in the bottom. The sledge was pulled around and around over stalks of wheat or barley to cut the stalks into small pieces.”²
  • With our new features, we thresh mountains [challenges]. We have the ability to turn mountains into small pieces of stone. We are world overcomers, mountain crushers. We make hills like chaff.
  • Threshing also involved laying down the grain or material to be threshed on a big flat surface and whacking the daylights of out them with a bat or stick.³ This is what we do to the challenges we face. We crush them and take the life out of them. “…thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff.” (Isaiah 41:15 KJV)
  • When you face a challenge, know that it is an opportunity to: a) Use what God has given you; b) Be promoted to another level.
  • Develop a reputation for winning in the spirit. Demons and devils know those who have a reputation for winning and so they approach such people with extreme caution.
  • You ought to know who you are as God’s chosen. He says in His Word, “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. (1John 5:4 KJV). We were born to overcome the world. A mountain (challenge you face in this world) is only a small part of the world.
  • Besides all this, He causes us to live in an economy that transcends this world. Our economy is different and far above the economy of this world. In our economy, springs and lakes (money and wealth) can emerge from dry and barren lands. All manner of plants (businesses and enterprises) can grow and fill the desert.
  • It doesn’t matter what country or region of the world in which we find ourselves. All things are possible to us and whatsoever we are involved in/with has to prosper. This is the heritage of God’s chosen ones.
  • This is all because, not only is the hand of the Lord is on His chosen ones, He lives in them and causes them to triumph.
  • Whatsoever we do prospers irrespective of the world’s economy and systems.
  • We are God’s chosen. A special breed.

References:

  1. CEV – Contemporary English Version (US Version), 1995.
  2. Ferell’s Travel Blog, https://ferrelljenkins.wordpress.com/2014/04/01/visualizing-isaiah-28-the-threshing-sledge/, (viewed on 14th September, 2015)
  3. The Walden Effect, Harvesting, threshing, winnowing, and dehulling backyard grains, http://www.waldeneffect.org/blog/Harvesting__44___threshing__44___winnowing__44___and_dehulling_backyard_grains/, (viewed on 14th September, 2015)

Riches & Godliness: How to be Good at Being Rich

“Tell those who are rich not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone, but their pride and trust should be in the living God who always richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and should give happily to those in need, always being ready to share with others whatever God has given them. By doing this they will be storing up real treasure for themselves in heaven—it is the only safe investment for eternity! And they will be living a fruitful Christian life down here as well” (1Timothy 6:17-19 TLB)

There are two kinds of rich people. These are:

1) Those who are good at being rich

2) Those who are not good at being rich.

Those who are good at being rich have overcome the dizzying effects of being rich. I will show you how to be good at being rich according to the Scriptures.

 

How to be Good at Being Rich

1. Show respect to all men irrespective of their social standing. “Tell those who are rich not to be proud…” (1Tim. 6:17 TLB). Proud people do not show respect to many people especially when they perceive they are better placed in society than other people. However, those who are good at being rich show utmost respect to all men.

2. Walk in love towards all people.

3. Use your money to do good.Tell them to use their money to do good…” (1Tim. 6:18 TLB). Those who are good at being rich use their money to promote only good and worthy causes. Those who are not good at being rich use their money to perpetrate evil.

4. Be rich in good works.They should be rich in good works…” (1Tim. 6:18 TLB). Some rich people use their money to do good sometimes but are not rich in good works. Much of their riches go into selfish expenditure while very little goes into good works. Such people may spend a lot of money on a custom-made vehicle and think that the same amount of money that went into the purchase of that vehicle is too much for the work of the ministry and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Such people do not do good lavishly. Being rich in good works also denotes giving not just money, but a lot of time, effort and energy in doing good.

5. Be liberal and generous of heart. “…And should give happily to those in need…” (1Tim. 6:18 TLB). The liberal soul gives happily to those in need. He is moved with compassion when he sees the needs of others and acts to meet those needs.

6. Be ready to share what you have with others. “…Always being ready to share with others whatever God has given them… (1Tim. 6:18 TLB). 

7. Realize that whatever you have was given to you by God. “…Ready to share with others whatever God has given them… (1Tim. 6:18 TLB). The man who will be good at being rich must start out with the awareness that whatever he has was given to him by God. This will set the pace for wisdom in the use of those riches.

8. Keep your hopes on God’s Word and God’s prescriptions for solving problems. Instruct those who are rich in the present age not to…set their hope on the uncertainty of wealth, but on God…” (1Tim. 6:17 TLB). Those who are good at being rich do not allow their trust to shift from God to riches. Such a person thinks “What does God’s Word say about this kind of problem or challenge?” rather than “How much money do I need to solve this problem?”. He would often pray about an issue first instead of quickly taking refuge in the potential of his money.

You can be good at being rich. That way, you become truly blessed and fruitful on this earth while storing up real treasures for yourself in heaven. God bless you! 

 

Riches & Godliness: Challenges of the Rich in Christ

“And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.” (Mark 10:23-27 KJV)

People are often under the impression that it is impossible for a person to be rich and godly at the same time. However, that impression is erroneous. Jesus did not say it was impossible for those who had and trusted in their riches to enter the kingdom of God. What he said was that it was going to be difficult for them to enter the kingdom of God.

He went on to say that even though it was going to be difficult, it is a feat that is possible to achieve with God.

The wisdom of God personified in the eighth chapter of the book of Proverbs said that she had “durable riches and righteousness” (vs. 18) in her possession at the same time. She also said she would cause those who love her (wisdom) to “inherit substance” (vs. 21).

“I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions…..I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me. Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness…..I lead in the way of righteousness…..That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.” (Proverbs 8:12-21 KJV)

These Scriptures let us know that:

  • It is feasible for an individual to have riches and righteousness when he functions with the wisdom of God.
  • Wisdom causes those who love her to inherit substance.
  • Durable (enduring and lasting) riches are found in the way of righteousness.
  • Riches and righteousness are not opposing or contrary forces (as many people erroneously perceive).

The born again Christian is born rich and born righteous. Christ became poor that we might be rich.
“For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” (2Corinthians 8:9 KJV)

Christ has also been made wisdom to the born again believer. Just like we saw in the eighth chapter of the book of Proverbs, we see also in the new creation man a vital connection between wisdom, riches and righteousness. The new creation man is therefore rich and righteous, possessing the wisdom of God.

The rich in Christ however face some challenges in their walk of godliness on account of their riches. These have been outlined below in what I call, ‘The Challenges of the Rich in their Walk of Godliness’.

 

The Challenges of the Rich in their Walk of Godliness

1. The temptations and acts of pride and arrogancy.

The rich are prone to making offensive displays of superiority or self-importance.

2. The temptations and acts of contemptuousness towards others.

The rich often have strong tendencies to disdain, scorn and disrespect others, especially when they are of a relatively lower financial standing. Rich people who have overcome such tendencies stand out as psychologically mature and people of commendable virtue.

3. The temptations and acts of setting one’s hopes on riches that are uncertain.

4. The temptations and acts of not trusting God in many, most or all circumstances.

5. The temptations and acts of shifting primary hope from God to money.

6. The temptations and acts of seeing one’s money as the source of safety and security.

“A rich person’s wealth is his strong city and is like a high wall in his imagination.” (Proverbs 18:11 GW)

7. Not realizing that there are some things that money cannot protect you from.

“Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death.” (Proverbs 11:4 KJV)

8. Not being conscious of the fact that there are some things that money cannot buy.

9. Not coming to terms with the fact that money cannot cure many thoughts and feelings of insecurity.

In spite of all these challenges, you must realize that it is possible to be good at being rich. Understand that when the Word of God gains the ascendancy in your life, these challenges become very easy to deal with because the Word shapes your character. Meditate on these things and ask the Holy Spirit to teach you a few things along these lines. God bless you!

Miracle-Eliminating Opinions

Elisha answered, “Listen to the word of the LORD! This is what the LORD says: About this time tomorrow 24 cups of the best flour will sell for half an ounce of silver in the gateway to Samaria. And 48 cups of barley will sell for half an ounce of silver.” The servant on whose arm the king was leaning answered the man of God, “Could this happen even if the LORD poured rain through windows in the sky?” Elisha replied, “You will see it with your own eyes, but you won’t eat any of it.” (2Kings 7:1-2 GW)

 

The dictionary defines an opinion as “a view somebody takes about an issue, especially when it is based solely on personal judgment.” It is important to ensure that your life is guided by the right opinions. A great number of people in this world are guided by the wrong opinions regarding success, prosperity, happiness and life itself. It is for this reason that a lot of people in this world live unsuccessful, unfulfilled and poor lives.

Napoleon Hill, author of bestselling Think and Grow Rich, pointed out that opinions are the cheapest commodities on earth. Too many people in this world live with very backward, inferior and negative opinions about life and prosperity. Surprisingly, it is these very people who put in a lot of effort to impose their opinions on the rest of the world. Another important thing you must do is to ensure that your life is guarded from the wrong opinions.

Once you accept the wrong opinions, you embrace wrong thinking. Wrong thinking shapes your life when it is embraced and is the chief cause of non-achievement in life. The reason why most of the world’s population is poor is because they think poor. As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.

Many people sell the idea that you have to struggle in this life before you become rich. Others sell the idea that you have to work for a number of years before you can afford this or that. They sell the idea that you must work for at least “x” number of years before you rise up the corporate ladder. Bob Procter, in his book You Were Born Rich advises that men ought to make up their minds to heed their own counsel whilst keeping an attentive ear open for God’s counsel. I strongly agree with him in such an era when multitudes with a flock of wrong opinions are always trying to foist their negative thoughts about life and prosperity on others.

Wrong opinions will always eliminate the miraculous and spectacular in a person’s life. Wrong opinions shut the doors to possibility thinking. Wrong opinions rule out the power of God from being manifested in any situation or circumstance. Wrong opinions make no room for the working of supernatural favour in a person’s life.

Never embrace thoughts that eliminate the miraculous. What corporate or governmental ladder did Joseph (son of Jacob) climb before becoming the Prime Minister of Egypt? He moved straight from jail to Prime Minister of Egypt with no relevant working experience whatsoever. What work did the four lepers do before they gathered so much wealth in the Syrian camp? The answer is no work at all. For how many years did they work before they could afford the things that kings and nobles desire? The answer is zero hours. (See 2Kings 7:1-9)

In our opening verse, Elijah prophesied that a very bad economic situation (probably worse than The Great Depression ) was going to be reversed in 24hours. How daring! Someone, whose opinions were so limited, ruled out such a possibility totally. Even though the whole city enjoyed the abundance that was spoken of, this man (a lord on whose hand the king leaned) did not enjoy the abundance of resources. Rather, he was trampled upon and killed by those who reached out for the abundant supplies.

Don’t let wrong opinions rob you of the good of the land. Don’t let small thinking keep you from all the untapped riches and resources in this world. There is enough wealth for every single human being in this world to become a dollar billionaire. Don’t let your thinking deprive you of God’s power and the miraculous. The Bible says that God is able to do “superabundantly, far over and above all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]” (Ephesians 3:20 AMP). If you can think it, know that God can do it and much more.

The Connection Between Success & Gratitude

“Only a small percentage of people are continually successful over the long run. These outstanding few recognize that every success comes through the assistance of many other people—and they are continually grateful for this support.

Conversely, many people whose success stops at some point are in that position because they have cut themselves off from everyone who has helped them. They view themselves as the sole source of their achievements. As they become more self-centered and isolated, they lose their creativity and ability to succeed.”

DAN SULLIVAN & CATHERINE NOMURA (from the book, Laws of Lifetime Growth)