Talking about money can be difficult. No one likes to feel like they’re begging for cash. Even fewer people want to be on the receiving end of such a conversation.
As pastors and church leaders, we can’t escape the subject. We need to talk about it. Not only is giving essential to the ongoing ministry of the church, it’s also an important part of spiritual development for the giver.
Thankfully, the Bible provides several examples of what godly giving looks like—and several that show its opposite!
Take a page from these biblical stories, and you’ll be able to preach on giving without feeling like you’re constantly asking for money.
1. Abram gives a tenth to Melchizedek (Genesis 24:17–24).
After the defeat of five kings and their armies, Abram was greeted by Melchizedek in a place called Salem. While the figure of Mechizedek is mysterious in Scripture, we’re told one important thing from the start: he’s a priest-king of God Most High. That means that, in Abram’s story, he functions as a representative of the Lord. Not only that, but Salem is the more ancient name for the city of Jerusalem.
Abram’s response to Melchizedek is somewhat strange to modern readers. Even though Melchizedek had nothing to do with the battle or Abram’s victory, Abram gives him a tenth of the spoils he had received. Why? Because as God’s representative here on earth, Abram wanted to give back to the Lord.
While this isn’t the space for a debate about tithing in the New Testament era on into today, there’s an important principle here for everyone: when we give to the Lord, we express our gratitude for His blessings in our lives.
2. Boaz is kind to Ruth (Ruth 2:1–16).
When Ruth came to Bethlehem from Moab with Naomi, she was a stranger in a strange land. She had no way to provide for herself, let alone her poor mother-in-law. She needed help from the Lord. God did provide for her, of course, but it wasn’t through a miracle; He used a man named Boaz to care for the widow.
Boaz was well off, but he was also generous. He observed the command to leave a little extra at the corners of his fields for the poor (Leviticus 19:9–10; 23:22; Deuteronomy 24:19). And when he discovered who Ruth was—how she had sacrificed so much for Naomi—he took a special interest in her and made sure she had what she needed. Ruth was from Moab, and the Moabites were sometimes the enemies of God’s people. That could have been enough for Boaz to disregard Ruth altogether. But instead, he was generous with her, because he knew God’s heart for the alien and the widow.
Our giving is one of the ways God may choose to care for the poor. Unlike Boaz, however, we may never see all the people who were blessed because we chose to be obedient to the Lord.
3. David buys a threshing floor (2 Samuel 24:18–25).
David was known as a man after God’s own heart. But he wasn’t perfect. David struggled with pride and could be pretty blind to his own arrogance. Everyone knows about his sin with Bathsheba, and his failures as a father are legendary, but there was also the time he took a census. Conducting a national census might seem harmless enough, but what David was really doing was measuring the strength of his fighting men.
In God’s economy, the size of one’s army doesn’t matter. In fact, the smaller it is, the better. That only means God’s glory will shine all the more brightly in victory. David’s census showed his faith was waning; his heart was wandering from the Lord. He was acting the way other kings act.
God punished the nation because of David’s sin, and when it was all over, David wanted to make a sacrifice on land that belonged to Auranah the Jebusite. Now, Auranah had seen what the entire country had been through, and he was willing to do whatever it took to help David get square with the Lord, so he was willing to simply give David the land and any animals he wanted to offer up to the Lord. David wouldn’t hear of it, though. “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing” (2 Samuel 24:24).
What does this tell us today? Our lives ought to be sacrificial. What we give to the Lord ought to actually cost us something. Our tithes and offerings should never be the excess, but instead should be central to how we think about our budgeting.
Over to you
Have any of these stories sparked your interest? It’s often a lot more effective to help people “catch” God’s heart for giving than it is to simply tell them why it’s so important.