By Melvin Twigg Mason
“Giving from a heart overflowing with God’s grace…has always been the [standard] for God’s people, both before and after the coming of Christ.”
So says R. Kent Hughes in his chapter on The Discipline of Giving in his best-selling book,“Disciplines Of A Godly Young Man (Crossway Publishing, 2012) co-authored with his son, Carey Hughes.
The authors start out this chapter by citing how God’s people in the Old Testament, the Israelites, were commanded to give of their resources to the Temple priests and staff (mandatory) and to others (voluntary/mandatory), whether money, food, cattle, or other valuables. That understanding carried on in the New Testament by way of what he calls “grace giving,” which is a voluntary act of worship; again giving money and other treasures to the church or those in need. But Hughes’ main point, gentlemen, is that all of this giving comes from a heart and mind that is first given to God.
Using the 8th and 9th chapters of 2nd Corinthians as a backdrop, Hughes says the apostle Paul defines the Discipline of Giving as an act of grace. The people of Macedonia spoken of in this passage were said to have “first given themselves to the Lord.” (8:5) That made giving from their finances and other resources a much easier thing to do. “When all you have is given to God, giving to others becomes the natural reflex of your soul,” says Hughes.
Later in the chapter he even contends that to be free from greed and materialism, one must “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven (e.g. acts of giving), where neither moth nor rust can corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” (Matthew 6:20)
So the authors’ central assertions are these:
- Giving is best done after committing yourself and all you have to the Savior,
- Giving is a private matter determined between you and God,
- Giving is not for notoriety with God or man,
- Giving will not gain favor with our Provider,
- Giving is generous and often sacrificial (the Macedonians gave out of their extreme poverty; so did the widow who gave two mites to the Temple!)
- Gracious giving is beyond the 10% that you give to the church,
- Giving is a regular occurrence in the life of a believer,
- Giving is not something to be delayed until you feel capable, and finally,
- Giving should be joyous, “For God loves a cheerful giver.”
As Hughes implores us, “may we be faithful and disciplined in giving ourselves and all we have” to our Keeper, who loves us and gave Himself for us! (Galatians 2:20)