A rapper that I like (Bizzle) has a recurring theme in his songs that is “God over money”.  For example, one of his lyrics is “Will you serve a living God or a dead president?” And then from my favorite song:

First im a hater cuz I’m broke and my money low

Find out I made a couple hundred on the low

They be like so I thought it was God Over Money though
Hated when I’m paid hated when I’m broke
They hating on my faith hating on my folks
See em drown in the middle of the ocean
When you pull up they be hating on yo boat”
My point, you ask? 

Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty. – Proverbs 22:16 ESV

Are we interested in what the Word of God has to say about money, the poor, etc? Can we hear what that call, that conviction is meant to tear us away from and draw us closer to? Is that surrender a difficult struggle for us or a joyful participation? 

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. – 2 Corinthians 9:6‭-‬7 ESV

Oh, how the world gets this backwards. We can more easily justify helping those who can offer us some help in return, as opposed to trusting the LORD to repay us for serving those who in this life  may likely never be in a position to appreciate or honor us. We are even given the wise advice to give our alms in secret so that we wouldn’t be seeking honor or glory for ourselves – because we are to be seeking glory to God in all things. 

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;  to proclaim the year of the Lord ’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;  to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord , that he may be glorified.  They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.  Strangers shall stand and tend your flocks; foreigners shall be your plowmen and vinedressers;  but you shall be called the priests of the Lord ; they shall speak of you as the ministers of our God; you shall eat the wealth of the nations, and in their glory you shall boast.  Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy.  For I the Lord love justice; I hate robbery and wrong; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.  Their offspring shall be known among the nations, and their descendants in the midst of the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge them, that they are an offspring the Lord has blessed.  I will greatly rejoice in the Lord ; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.  For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations. – Isaiah 61:1‭-‬11 ESV


You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”
2 Corinthians 9:7 NLT

Many will take this verse out of context as an excuse for their not giving at all or not tithing faithfully to the church. But if you read the context of this passage,  it isn’t about tithing,  but it is about a gift from their group to help another group in need. This is about a gift they had promised, and the time was drawing near for them to gather the gift for those in need.

This verse does not mean that “we don’t have to give if we don’t feel like it”. Just like the many passages about freedom do not mean “we don’t have to obey if we don’t feel convicted against it”. And there is nothing false in these statements alone,  because God does give you the opportunity to choose, but the answer (your choice) does speak to your heart, and there are different consequences depending on whether or not your heart is self centered or God centered.

You’re right. We don’t “have to” obey God. But do we also understand that there are consequences?

Do we understand yet that complying out of obligation doesn’t even meet the mark of living a life surrendered as a willing,  cheerful,  humble servant of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?

Do we understand that our answers to these questions, about the state of our hearts, and the reasons behind our actions – can give us insight into the deceitfulness and trickery of our own thoughts and desires? It can help us examine ourselves to find out whether or not we are standing firm upon the foundation of Christ.

And who are we to measure ourselves by? Not one another. No,  that will only lead us into judgement, condemnation,  and pride. We are to measure ourselves against the way,  the truth,  the life of Jesus Christ – and finding ourselves insufficient,  we are to lean upon His grace and His righteousness.

At this point, let me interrupt for an important distinction. If you are relying upon grace to excuse your remaining a slave to sin – you must examine your heart closely,  because grace is no license to sin – cheap grace with no repentance is no grace at all and you do not yet know Christ. You may know “about” Christ,  but how can you claim that you know Him and He walks with you when you are still controlled by your true master? And if you have reached that state where you believe yourself righteous and walking in right standing with the Lord by the law – you must examine your heart closely,  because spiritual pride and good works is no stairway to heaven – sacrificial living with no love and mercy is empty religious practice from those who do not know God, those who do not desire to know Him closely and love Him personally.

So having said all of this, can we agree that at times in the past we have dolled ourselves about what being a Christ follower and believer means?  Can we now see why being a cheerful giver is the goal?

Can we speak spiritually for a moment about this subject as well?

If I am led to give because of obligation,  do you see how that can be flowing from a wrong spirit (shame, guilt, condemnation, etc)? If  I am led give so that others will think highly of me,  do you see how that can be flowing from a wrong spirit (pride, seeking honor from men,  etc)? If I am being led to give because I’m expecting payment in return, do you see how that can be flowing from a wrong spirit (manipulation, chasing worldly prosperity, etc)?

But isn’t it clear that if my reasons are loving God and loving others – and if I’m led to give out of grattitude for what, He has given me, isn’t it clear that I am being led by that Holy Spirit that bears the fruit that fulfills the law?

Yes, we have quickly let ourselves step into high minded words and thoughts about His ways,  about spiritual things, about those things so far above our own understanding – even while our actions humble us and keep us safely at the foot of the cross. Let’s not let such high thinking leave us anywhere but as a humble servant and follower of Jesus Christ, the Word of God come in the flesh to dwell among us, He who is from the beginning and who shall be evermore.

And knowing this,  believing this,  how could we not want to give generously and cheerfully? How could we cling to what is worthless and temporary – instead of clinging solely to Christ who is our portion and our prize eternal?

We must examine our hearts,  friends. And when we k know our heart is not quite right,  when we realize that we fall short of the mark,  we should continue to pray for growth and healing in that area of our lives – we should talk with Him and walk with Him, under His guidance both in heartfelt prayer and in earnest seeking through the written Word of God. He is here,  He is available to us,  friend. Our life choices are opportunities to be drawn closer to Him by leaning to Him – or to choose separation.

I hope we will lean to Him today, friends. I hope we will know the love of His annointing of the Holy Spirit and that we will pour out His love into the world through our cheerful giving,  through generosity,  through charity, through seeing the needs of the world and not turning away.

May we be cheerfully generous, friends.

Giving the best gifts

Today is my daughter’s birthday party. Christmas is just around the corner. So giving is on a lot of our minds right now. 

Since you excel in so many ways—in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us —I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving. I am not commanding you to do this. But I am testing how genuine your love is by comparing it with the eagerness of the other churches.
2 Corinthians 8:7-8 NLT

Paul in his second letter to the believers in Corinth offers them constructive criticism. It reminds me immediately of a recurring theme,  whether in his letters to Timothy, or the warnings for the 7 churches in Revelation, or in the way that he patterns most of his letters. And isn’t this the way of the Holy Spirit, the way of God towards those that He loves and that love Him in return? He doesn’t sit on the mountaintop waiting for an opportunity to destroy us,  but He draws close to us and gives to us graciously.

And the best gifts that He gives to us are not the things of this world, but they are gifts and treasures eternal. The best gifts that He brings to us are things like grace,  mercy,  peace,  patience, joy,  love, hope, faith – because these things are not common,  nor are they cheap. All of them come at a heavy price,  and, He is gracious and teaches us through His costly love for us how we are meant to love one another.

So today,  there will be presents that we give our daughter that we have bought,  and that are things of this world – and we are happy and gracious and thankful to be able to provide for her. But the greatest gifts that we will give her today is in introducing her to those gifts eternal. We will teach her that the loving people sharing in the celebration with her are far more valuable than the presents and the cake. We will demonstrate to her that helping those we know are in need today is more important than piles of presents under the Christmas tree.

And we won’t do this because it is an obligation,  or that we feel commanded by some religious commitment to do these things. We will do it because we want her to have the best gifts. We want her to receive and know and recognize those gifts that come from God that are so much more valuable than stuff and things that the world tries to sell us in a commercial.

Generosity is the inevitable result of grattitude. And gratitude is the inevitable response of someone who receives something that they do not expect or “deserve” or “feel entitled to”. And do you see how if we got our hope,  our attitudes in line with seeking God’s nature of generosity and gratitude in our own lives that these two will feed each other? Can you imagine how quickly these two traits could set fire to the nations with the loving example of true Christian living? With one’s generosity feeding another’s grattitude,  and their grattitude fueling their flame to pass it on in generosity towards another?

But if we don’t see past the presents,  we will never see the flame. If we don’t see past the obligation of buying a gift for each person and instead see an opportunity to be generous and loving towards each other – won’t we miss an opportunity?

And don’t think that I’m encouraging you to go into debt spending money outside of what a responsible budget allows – I’m talking about the most excellent gifts that you can give. Isn’t it better for us to give our love, and to encourage hope, and to offer our time and attention to the needs in each others lives than to add to the piles of things cluttering our homes? Yes, this perspective and attitude takes more time, more focus, more effort,  more actual caring for others – but isn’t that the very point?

Do we want to give the best gifts today? Or are we weary and just ready to get it all over with? Let’s be honest with ourselves and understand the opportunity we are missing out on by not feeding that self propelling engine of grattitude and generosity working side by side with one another.

Look for opportunities today to be generous,  friend. Help someone who cannot repay you. Show love even to someone who may not “deserve it”. Offer forgiveness to that person that hurt you even though they aren’t sorry about it. And not because it’s a commandment and a requirement, but because you know that is exactly what Christ has done for you.

May God bless your life today with the best gifts, those blessings eternal,  friend.

His or mine?

All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had.
Acts of the Apostles 4:32 NLT

Imagine a body of believers united in heart and mind,  dedicated to each other, not considering anything their own but God’s – sharing without a second thought when another is in need.

So what is the problem? What are our excuses?

Continue reading “His or mine?”

Wow, He told them to STOP GIVING, really? Which church are we talking about again?

Moses gave them the materials donated by the people of Israel as sacred offerings for the completion of the sanctuary. But the people continued to bring additional gifts each morning. Finally the craftsmen who were working on the sanctuary left their work. They went to Moses and reported, “The people have given more than enough materials to complete the job the lord has commanded us to do!” So Moses gave the command, and this message was sent throughout the camp: “Men and women, don’t prepare any more gifts for the sanctuary. We have enough!” So the people stopped bringing their sacred offerings. Their contributions were more than enough to complete the whole project.

Our level of generosity is a pretty strong reflection of either how strong of a hold we are clutching onto our money with,  or how open handed we are with the blessings of God as we seek to be good stewards of what He has entrusted us with.

How often do we give with abandon in our lives?  And not just with our money,  but with our time and our attention?

Can we imagine someone saying to us, you have given enough already,  we have all that we need. Please, you don’t need to give more.

Continue reading “Wow, He told them to STOP GIVING, really? Which church are we talking about again?”

Love, where subtraction is replaced by multiplication

The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.


There are all kinds of ways for us to be generous. We can be generous with our money, with our time, with our words, with our actions,  with our forgiveness.

Continue reading “Love, where subtraction is replaced by multiplication”