“They first gave themselves to the Lord” 2 Corinthians 8:5
When a person has genuinely confessed and repented of sin they will have a heart desire to live in obedience to the Word of the Lord. This will be evidenced in all aspects of life but especially in giving. Whereas before they received Jesus Christ they had a heart to get for themselves now they will have a heart to give. This is the heart of God. He is a giver but not an indiscriminate giver.
Within all of us is still the desire of the flesh to get for ourselves. How shall we recognise that cunning and deceitful evil within?
There are many false prophets in our world who take advantage of our mercenary hearts and promise us God’s favour if we give. However, if we give to gain the favour of another, man or God, that is not giving, it is a purchase – or worse, an attempt at bribery. True giving has no strings attached, not even the gratitude of the recipient. True giving is not a payment for a past or future service and neither is it a payment for a gift we have received. We cannot repay God for the gift of salvation and any attempt to do so is abominable to Him.
There is no doubt Jesus would have us give to His ministry, mission and to others in need but we need to be careful that we have the right heart motive. It is so easy to slip into the mercenary or purchase mindset instead of just giving without any thought of return. We know we are mercenary when we expect God to bless us in some way because we give.
God “gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16) because He is a giver not because He needs our gratitude (though gratitude is a vital part of worship) or anything else from us. When we give let it be because we love Him and love the brethren.
The churches in Macedonia, even though they were suffering financial hardship, gave to the ministry of the Gospel with no thought of anything in return (2 Corinthians 8:1-5). They did it because they knew that all they were and had was a gift from the Lord. To give oneself to the Lord means to own nothing, not even one’s own body and soul. Obedience is the evidence that such a transaction has taken place and remains in effect.
We do not choose the time, place, genetic inheritance, abilities, natural talents or opportunities we receive. Everything is God given. Let us acknowledge that truth by absolute surrender of all that we are and have to Jesus Christ. Know that He will test the reality of such a transaction.