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Before we strive to understand sacrificial giving, let’s begin this episode with a story:
“An eight-year-old boy had a younger sister who was dying of leukemia, and he was told that without a blood transfusion she would die. His parents explained to him that his blood was probably compatible with hers, and if so, he could be the blood donor. They asked him if they could test his blood. He said sure. So they did and it was a good match. Then they asked if he would give his sister a pint of blood, that it could be her only chance of living. He said he would have to think about it overnight.
The next day he went to his parents and said he was willing to donate the blood. So they took him to the hospital where he was put on a gurney beside his six-year-old sister. Both of them were hooked up to IVs. A nurse withdrew a pint of blood from the boy, which was then put in the girl’s IV. The boy lay on his gurney in silence while the blood dripped into his sister, until the doctor came over to see how he was doing. Then the boy opened his eyes and asked, “How soon until I start to die?”
That is sacrifice! Believing that he would die, yet willing to give his own blood to his sister. That is one form of sacrificial giving! But we will are not going down the blood-transfusion trail of sacrifice today, rather, we will talk about monetary and asset sacrifice.
A definition of sacrificial giving
Drew’s Definition: Sacrificial giving is giving that goes beyond our means for the love of another, and unto the Lord!
Tim’s Definition: Giving out of your essential budget to a specific cause or ministry opportunity.
Other phrases to help understand this are:
- Giving beyond your means (Giving money that you really should be putting somewhere else, not giving money that you don’t have)
- Giving that hurts
- Going without something that we want/need in order to supply for the needs of another.
- Typically, sacrificial giving is not an ongoing process. It is done to meet an immediate need.
Sacrificial giving, when Kingdom oriented, leads to abundant joy. Sacrificing personal comfort in the present to store up future glory.
“…remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” (Acts 20:35, NIV84)
Sacrificial Giving – A Biblical Perspective
“And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own…” (2 Corinthians 8:1–3, NIV84)
Randy Alcorn states in his book “Money Possessions, and Eternity” this:
- “There are three levels of giving—less than our ability, according to our ability, and beyond our ability. It’s fair to say that 96 percent of Christians in the Western world give less than their ability. Perhaps another 3 percent or more give according to their ability, and less than 1 percent give beyond their ability.”
- “What does it mean to give beyond our ability? It means to push our giving past the point where the figures add up. It means to give when the bottom line says we shouldn’t. It means to give away not just the luxuries, but also some of the necessities. It means living with the faith of the poor widow. For most of us, giving according to our means would stretch us. Giving beyond our means would appear to break us. But it won’t—because we know God is faithful.”
Randy Alcorn & Others on Sacrificial Giving:
- “When giving, and you have multiple choices of the same thing, you give the best of those things, not the most worn-out item!”
- “It is not giving of items that we no longer use or want (that is just slimming down). It is…giving of assets, items, money that is accounted for and being used regularly…these are items that we really want to OR need to hold onto, but in this sacrificial situation, the need is greater elsewhere than in your possession.”
- “I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing” (2 Samuel 24:24).
- David makes it clear in this passage that sacrifice COSTS something.
- Sacrificial giving makes NO sense, YET, it totally makes sense because it is meeting the NEED of another, and this sacrificial gift is unto the LORD!
- Sacrificial giving does not make monetary sense.
- One gives to a deficit or pain point that does not make numerical sense, and it can “hurt”financially. BUT, it does make monetary sense! God promises to provide, even in our generosity, and encourages us to test Him in this (Mal. 3).
- Sacrificial giving is risky!
- It reduces or eliminates your safety net. This is where faith comes into play! Trusting God for your daily bread and your future needs.
- Randy Alcorn had this to say about sacrificial giving…
- “A disciple does not ask, “How much can I keep?” but, “How much more can I give?” Whenever we start to get comfortable with our level of giving, it’s time to raise it again.” (Money, Possessions, and Eternity).
Tensions Between Wise Stewardship & Sacrificial Giving
There is a tension between wise financial stewardship and giving more than you can afford to give.
2 Corinthians 8:2-4 – “for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, They gave out of their poverty even more than they could afford to give…”
- When to do sacrificial giving?
- When God is directing you to do so!
- When you are meeting a Kingdom need!
- When NOT to do sacrificial giving.
- If it is for “showing off” to others.
- If it is not done “out of love” for others and toward God!
Is Sacrificial giving wise stewardship?
Uncomfortable verses for a financial advisor
The widow’s mite
- “As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” (Luke 21:1–4, NIV84)
Give beyond their ability
- We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.” (2 Corinthians 8:1–5)
Is it ever okay for you to give in a way that limits your ability to save and invest for the future? (yes!)
- You need to use wisdom…
- It should not be a knee-jerk reaction. Give yourself a little time to use prayer and discernment.
- There are times when financial stewardship can become an idol. Even the 5 Biblical Financial Priorities can become an idol, keeping us from fidelity to Christ and the church. We, in the name of Good stewardship, can be simply building bigger barns rather than building a bigger kingdom of God. If we feel uncomfortable with certain texts in scripture, maybe it is because we are afraid to go without. Perhaps it is because we are really trusting in our own wisdom and ability to save and invest rather than in God’s promise to provide all our needs.
- It is also possible to make giving an idol.
- We don’t do what the Bible teaches to live conservatively. We give more than we can afford to give but instead of cutting back lifestyle, we finance the lifestyle with debt.
- Sacrificial giving is to go without something that is good in order to give to a need or cause. It is sacrificing a desired lifestyle to support God’s work/kingdom. It’s not going into debt for the “glory of God”.
Does sacrificial giving always have a “spiritual” connection?
There are certainly times when our sacrificial giving can be directed towards meeting material needs. We are all image bearers! We have been given a mission to care for, cultivate, and steward the world God has given us. But that isn’t our only mission. Our mission is to make Christ look glorious and make Him known! Therefore, we also should look towards the future and realize that giving to the Kingdom will make an eternal impact.
What if I have low income? Does a small tithe count as sacrificial giving?
Here is a great question that we receive often: For low income and/or high debt individuals who can barely afford to pay their bills, does a small “tithe” ‘qualify’ as sacrificial giving? For some, a 5% “tithe” may feel sacrificial. (i.e. Is Sacrificial giving more of a ‘heart’ orientation rather than an amount given?) Here’s our response:
- First of all, a “tithe” is nothing less than 10% of earnings. So, anything less than that can not be called a “tithe”…just look at it as giving unto the Lord as you work your way up to “tithing.”
- Sacrificial giving as a “heart orientation.” Yes, it is a heart orientation. Yes, it is an amount given.
- And this giving is BEYOND what one can afford to give.
- It is not off the top (that is the tithe).
- It is not an “offering” that is somewhat above the tithe.
- It is a gift, a sacrifice to the bottom-line of the person’s financial means, current plans/lifestyle and/or future.
- It is trusting God that He will provide in the future as you dip into what you have saved.
What are some hindrances to sacrificial giving?
- Debt – income being owned by another…lack of control over your own expenditures
- Idolatry – love of the world/money
- Ownership – Do you believe that YOU OWN what you have…or are you the steward?
- Trust – Do you trust God’s providences or your own paychecks?
Who owns our hearts? Where do our desires lie?
Are all believers to do sacrificial giving?
- All believers are to tithe.
- All believers are to give offerings above and beyond their tithe (to people, and ministries)
- All believers are to consider and process sacrificial giving.
- But, ONLY those that are CALLED by God are to give in a way that impacts their current and/or future bottom line.
- Remember, in sacrificial giving, there is a HUGE trust factor! The one giving sacrificially is giving in a way that impacts their life both today and tomorrow!
Even with sacrificial giving, you can NEVER out-give God! He will see your generosity, and through the promise of His Word, He will take care of you and will meet all of your needs!
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