Sermon 4

Giving to God

In many countries today, there is a stigma with religious leaders asking for money. Many religious leaders have given the church of Jesus Christ a horrible reputation. We have seen religious leaders fall due to financial scandals in their organizations.

Peter warned of the false prophets: “In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories” (2 Peter 2:3). He said that these false prophets are “experts in greed” (verse 14). Paul was accused of being greedy while he was with the Thessalonians (1 Thess. 2:5), an accusation which he forcefully denied. Jude warns of those who will “flatter others for their own advantage” (Jude 16). The stigma of greedy religious leaders isn’t a new phenomenon. 

For that reason, we must be very careful about how we handle the matter of giving to the church. Let’s look at a few principles that relate to this whole matter of giving.


Let’s enter into God’s courtroom. Israel is on trial. God is both the Judge (verse 6) and the prosecuting attorney. We will pick up the prosecution’s argument, beginning with verse 7: “Listen, my people, and I will speak; I will testify against you, Israel: I am God, your God.”

God is going to speak against Israel, who thought that their religiosity was going to save them. They thought that God needed the sacrifices they offered to Him.

In verse 8, God first admits that they were a religious people. He says that their sacrifices are “ever before me.” They were correct in their external obedience to the Lord to offer to Him the continual sacrifices which He required. Their repeated offerings according to the law were correct and commendable. Their religious activity wasn’t their problem. 

As we shall see, their problem was that they thought God needed their sacrifices to thrive. Their theology was simply that of the pagan gods all around them, who supposedly thrived on the sacrifices offered to them. They naturally thought that God needed them and their sacrifices. But He doesn’t. God is not like this.

In verse 9, God is basically saying, “I will not accept your sacrifices. If you think I need your sacrifices, I don’t want them. I won’t have them. Take them back.” Then He puts forth his reasons in verses 10-13. 

We only give to God what He has first given to us. David expressed this thought nicely when he had received offerings to build the temple. He prayed (1 Chron. 29:12, 14, 16).

When giving to the church, we need to realize that God is not a beggar who needs what we have to accomplish His work on this earth. The beggar asks because he has no resources to meet his need, but God has all resources at His disposal and will accomplish His plan upon the earth—whether we give from our resources or not (Isa. 46:10). When Jesus came into Jerusalem and the religious leaders scolded Him for receiving the praise of the people, He responded, “If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out” (Luke 19:40). God will accomplish His purposes using His own resources. He illustrates this in Psalm 50:12, “If I were hungry, I would not tell you.” God wouldn’t tell us because He can satisfy His hunger by Himself. God doesn’t need us to satisfy His hunger.

We need to realize that God doesn’t need our money. He is entirely self-sufficient. He doesn’t need us in any way (Acts 17:24, 25).

When you give to the church, you need to realize that you are not giving to help God accomplish His purpose. God doesn’t need what you have. God was saying, “Those sacrifices that you are offering? I don’t want them! . . . But there is something that you can give me.” Look at Psalm 50:14, “Sacrifice thank offerings.” The same thing is repeated in verse 23: “He who sacrifices thank offering honors me.”

Much of it comes down to our motives in giving. Does God need us to give to Him? No. Does God want us to give to Him? Yes, if our motives are proper. 


The Bible tells us what motives should be present in our giving. We should give:

1. Thankfully (Ps. 50:14, 15). The motive here is the key. Israel’s problem was that they were sacrificing out of a sense of obligation. Externally, they were doing all the right things (see verse 8), but apparently, their attitude was wrong. Verse 12 seems to indicate to us that they were sacrificing to sustain God. They didn’t understand why God wanted their sacrifice. But God says, “Offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving.”

God delights when we give out of gratitude. God disapproves when we give out of duty (as the Israelites were doing). The remainder of verses 14 and 15 are merely descriptions of those who worship God with thankful and dependent hearts.

2. Generously (2 Cor. 9:6). In this chapter, Paul is requesting that the Corinthians give financially to the “support of the saints” (2 Cor. 8:4; 9:1). He is raising money to help the poor Christians in Jerusalem, not to fund the church. Proverbs 11:25 says, “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”

3. Purposefully (2 Cor. 9:7). Literally, this means “chosen beforehand.” The picture of giving here is that of a well-planned exercise. It has been thought about, deliberated, discussed, and reasoned ahead of time. The choice of what to give has been made at home in one’s right mind. It has been “purposed in his heart.” In other words, your giving to the church needs to be a willful and deliberate act.

4. Joyfully (2 Cor. 9:7b). Paul says that our giving isn’t to be done from any negative motive. You shouldn’t give out of obligation, guilt, pressure, or constraint. You shouldn’t give because you are forced to give or coerced to give. We shouldn’t even give because it is our duty to give.


God has prepared good works for us to walk in (Eph. 2:10). Our resources to fulfill all of these good deeds are not found in ourselves! This is great news! We don’t need to provide everything by ourselves; we can look to Him who is able to provide it for us. But God doesn’t only provide the resources; He “abounds” in His provision to us.

When you think of giving to the church, do you think of God as a drain, sucking up all of your resources? Or do you think of God as a fountain, refreshing what we may give away?

Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:21). We might say it like this: “Where your checkbook is, there will your heart be also.” Hearts are difficult to discern, but treasures indicate what the heart is like.

May God give us hearts to give to His kingdom and glory with motives that are pleasing to Him.

General Conference Ministerial Association