WE’RE COMMANDED TO GIVE
Date: December 5
"They shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed: Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you."
In Israel, there were three major feasts: the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Tabernacles (verse 16b). For each of these feasts, the Israelites were to bring an offering to God. In this passage, we read that God instructs the Israelites not to come before Him empty-handed. Instead they were to give to Him as they were able to give and according to the blessings that God has given them. In other words, regardless of how great or small their incomes were, the Israelites always had to give God a gift proportional to their income.
This is a commandment for the people of the Old Testament, but God gives us a similar commandment in the New Testament as well. For example in 1 Corinthians 16:1 Paul writes, "Now concerning the money contributed for [the relief of] the saints (God's people): you are to do the same as I directed the churches of Galatia to do. On the first [day] of each week, let each one of you [personally] put aside something and save it up as he has prospered [in proportion to what he is given], so that no collections will need to be taken after I come." God wants us to give in proportion to how we have prospered. So giving is something that needs to be done on a weekly basis and in an organized manner.
There are great rewards that we will receive when we give to God. In Luke 6:38 Jesus said, "Give, and [gifts] will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will they pour into [the pouch formed by] the bosom [of your robe and used as a bag]. For with the measure you deal out [with the measure you use when you confer benefits on others], it will be measured back to you." So the measure to which we give will determine the measure to which we will receive.
We read a similar passage in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 where Paul writes, "[Remember] this: he who sows sparingly and grudgingly will also reap sparingly and grudgingly, and he who sows generously [that blessings may come to someone] will also reap generously and with blessings. Let each one [give] as he has made up his own mind and purposed in his heart not reluctantly or sorrowfully or under compulsion, for God loves (He takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is unwilling to abandon or to do without) a cheerful (joyous, "prompt to do it") giver [whose heart is in his giving]." Again, we see that we will reap according to what we have sown. God blesses us with seed so that we will sow it and reap something back.
But the harvest that we receive back isn't just for us to keep. In 2 Corinthians 9:8 we read, "And God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need be self-sufficient [possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation]." In other words, when we give generously, we are going to receive generously. God is going to enable us to create even more wealth for ourselves so that we will have no need to get help from others, but we will always have more than enough to give to those who need our help. So again, the purpose for the increase that we receive from our giving is so we can give even more.
When we give to people who are in need, we are really lending to the Lord. We read in Proverbs 19:17, "He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and that which he has given He will repay to him." So when we give to the poor, we are really giving unto the Lord and God promises us here that He will not remain a debtor to anyone. He will fully repay us for everything we have given.
God wants us to be givers because He Himself is a giver. He wants us to give to Him and to others who are in need. That's what God desires from us. So today, let us remember what it says in Deuteronomy 16:16c-17. Let us not come before the presence of God empty-handed, but let us come before Him with good gifts – gifts that will bless His heart and bless others who are in need.