For the past few days, I have been thinking about the reason I'm giving and of course, how much to give. Some Christians have criticized preachers of misguiding their flock into giving large sums of money with the promise that their giving will reap returns from God many times over.
Actually, the preachers are not wrong to say that their giving i.e. sowing will reap a harvest BUT they are wrong if they packaged their message to influence their flock to give IN ORDER TO get back a manifold return. We have to be clear about the reason why we are giving. God sees our heart. If we give in order to get back a huge return, then it is no different from us buying a 4D lottery ticket - the bigger amount you bet, the larger your payback.
Ask yourself: "Why am I giving to the one-north building project?" For me personally, I am giving because I want to play a part, however small it is, in building a permanent home for our church to gather together to worship God and listen to the Word of Christ week after week. I am giving because I believe one-north is going to be a beacon of light attracting people to come out of their darkness into the light of Christ.
After you have sorted out your reason for giving, then the next question beckons: "How much should I give?" How many times have you heard preachers exhort (pressurize) you to give till it hurts? How many times have you increased the amount you originally planned to give because of that kind of "exhortation"? How many times have you felt a tinge of regret that you may have given a bit too much?
I say to you, no matter what the amount is, IF IT HURTS, DON'T GIVE. On the NCC web page announcing Miracle Seed Sunday, you will see 2 Cor 9:7 - “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Isn't it a contradiction that a preacher can tell you to give cheerfully and at the same time to give till it hurts? How can I be cheerful when it hurts? How can it hurt when I am cheerful? Some preachers like to quote the example of King David in 2 Sam 24 to support their call to give till it hurts; their favourite quotation is "I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing." (2 Sam 24:24a)
However, let us examine carefully in detail what King David said. He said he would not sacrifice something that costs nothing, which means the sacrifice must cost something BUT it does NOT mean that the sacrifice must cost EVERYTHING. How much did King David actually pay for the items to be used for the burnt offering? 2 Sam 24:24b - "So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them."
King David paid fifty shekels of silver for the threshing floor and oxen. I don't know the market price for those items then but I've got a feeling that King David paid above the market rate for them. However, please put the fifty shekels of silver in perspective - how much is this in comparison to the wealth which King David possess? The fifty shekels of silver is just a drop of water in the ocean for King David.
Perhaps it is fitting that King David himself was also involved in a similar building project - the temple of God. King David himself gave a huge amount of his personal wealth to the building project but he also involved the people in the process. Look at how the people responded:
1 Chronicles 29 : 3-9
3 “And now, because of my devotion to the Temple of my God, I am giving all of my own private treasures of gold and silver to help in the construction. This is in addition to the building materials I have already collected for his holy Temple. 4 I am donating more than 112 tons of gold from Ophir and 262 tons of refined silver to be used for overlaying the walls of the buildings 5 and for the other gold and silver work to be done by the craftsmen. Now then, who will follow my example and give offerings to the Lord today?”
6 Then the family leaders, the leaders of the tribes of Israel, the generals and captains of the army, and the king’s administrative officers all gave willingly. 7 For the construction of the Temple of God, they gave about 188 tons of gold, 10,000 gold coins, 375 tons of silver, 675 tons of bronze, and 3,750 tons of iron. 8 They also contributed numerous precious stones, which were deposited in the treasury of the house of the Lord under the care of Jehiel, a descendant of Gershon. 9 The people rejoiced over the offerings, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord, and King David was filled with joy.
The people, collectively, gave a huge amount - 188 tons of gold, 10,000 gold coins, 375 tons of silver, 675 tons of bronze, and 3,750 tons of iron - but the key is not the amount but the heart; "they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord".
This coming Sunday, no matter how big or small the miracle seed you have set in heart, just give freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord, and there will be great rejoicing in the house of the Lord. Remember, IF IT HURTS, DON'T GIVE.
P.S. One more thing, ask God to give you the seed to sow for it is "He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food". (2 Cor 9:10)