Lesson 20 – The Gift of Giving

Matthew 6:1-4 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise, you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”

In Matthew 6, Jesus gives us teaching on three disciplines that will help us develop the attitudes that He talked about in Matthew 5. Giving, praying, and fasting are the chief means by which we develop godly character and keep our hearts clean before God. These disciplines challenge wrong actions, wrong attitudes and motives, and keep us focused in our pursuit of the Lord.

It is not accidental that these disciplines follow after Jesus’ teaching on having mature love for one another. When we fail to love, and thus keep resentments, prejudices, and judgments in our hearts, we block the flow of God’s blessings toward us. We can pray, fast, and give, but if our hearts are not right with God and others, we lose the benefits of those disciplines.

Matthew 6:1 – The phrase, ’charitable deeds,’ can also be termed ’righteousness acts.’ In verses 2-4, the word translated alms in Greek is elee-mosune which refers to mercy and pity, but more specifically points to alms, which is money given to the poor.

Jesus said, “When you give...”, and not, IF you give. It is as if Jesus says, “Of course you will give to the needy. So when you do, do it like this... and don’t do it like that...” In our giving, we are not to do so for the purpose of receiving recognition or glory from man.

Read Acts 10:1-2. Cornelius’ testimony was that he feared God, was sincerely religious, generously gave charitable gifts (alms), and prayed to God always. In Acts 10:4, 30-33, and 44-46, we see that God responded to the prayers and to the alms! Both prayers and alms are a memorial to God.

James 2:14-17 says faith without works is dead. An insulated faith that helps no one is not the same faith as that of the Messiah Who gave His life for others. Our faith should motivate us to give to others as generously and freely as the Lord has given to us! Jesus said, “Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8)

Read Luke 12:13-21, 31-34. A key for keeping our hearts free of covetousness and greed is to give to others generously. Jesus exhorted His disciples to seek God’s kingdom as their first priority. He told them to sell what they had and give alms, providing for themselves treasures in heaven.

When an unbeliever prepares for retirement, he saves money and tries to make wise investments so that his future is secure. Believers in Jesus should have a mind-set compatible with Jesus’ teaching – they should store their treasures in heaven where they are eternally secure.

Read 1 Timothy 6:17-19. We are commanded to trust in God, rather than to trust in earthly, uncertain riches. God gives us many good things to enjoy, such as friendships, children, food, and nature. We are to be rich in good works, ready to give and to share what we have. These are a few ways we can accumulate treasure in heaven.

If we are eternally minded, we will spend our time, energy, and finances on building the kingdom of God on earth through reaching others for Jesus, discipling new believers, and by supporting fruitful ministries. We will choose to make divine investments into the lives of people. To accumulate wealth here can be a waste of time and money (unless it is used for kingdom purposes), because this world is temporary. It is passing away. Investing in that which is eternal is what is of most value.

The late missionary Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep in order to gain that which he cannot lose.”

Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-9 and notice in these verses two spiritual principles regarding giving.
(1) We reap according to what we sow. Generous giving results in plenty, and miserly giving gets feeble results, and (2) God loves for us to give cheerfully. He loves it when we give lavishly and extravagantly! That’s the kind of giver God Himself is!

There was a millionaire in Texas who began regularly giving God 10% of his income after his initial personal encounter with Jesus. Then he increased his giving to 30%... to 50%... to 75%. Eventually, he was giving 90% of his income to God, and keeping only 10%. Even then, he could not keep up with all the finances God poured in! As Evangelist Oral Roberts says, “You cannot out-give God!”

When God knows He can trust us not to hold onto or idolize any of His blessings, but instead freely give them to those with needs, He often will use us as channels of His financial and material blessings to others.

Read Luke 10:30-35 and notice the contrasting attitudes in this story.

The attitude of the robber was “What’s yours is mine, and I’m going to take it.”
The attitudes of the Priest and Levite were “What’s mine is mine, and I’m going to keep it.”
The attitude of the Samaritan was “What’s mine is yours, and I’m going to give it.”

Our attitudes should be like the one the Samaritan displayed. We must be willing to give when we see a need, and/or when the Lord prompts us to give. Our gifts need not be limited to just the giving of finances; we can also give our time, talents, and practical help. Read 1 John 3:17.

1 Corinthians 13:3 says our giving must be motivated by love! Don’t give hoping to receive in return, or to “force” God to give back to you. God Himself gives generously, and loves it when we as His children do also. Now is a good time to invest in the kingdom of God and in the lives of others!

Suggestions for a time of prayer:

  • Thank the Lord for His generosity towards you.
  • Repent of any covetousness, stinginess, or greed that you may have.
  • Do you give? If so, why? What are your motives in giving?
  • Ask the Lord how you can help to build His kingdom through giving or how you can improve your giving.