February 25, 2023
Observing the Giving of Others
Nehemiah - “Many of the people contributed to help bear the cost to restore the Temple. The governor gave 270 ounces of gold, 50 ceremonial bowls, and 530 robes for the priests. The heads of the clans gave 337 pounds of gold and 3,215 pounds of silver. The rest of the people gave 337 pounds of gold, 2923 pounds of silver, and 67 robes for the priests.” (Nehemiah 7:70-72)
Nehemiah was so pleased about the contributions of the people for the restoration of the Temple that he included it in his writings. He obviously considered their offerings as evidence of their dedication to the Lord. He had obviously read the book of Leviticus where the Lord says “The tithe is holy to the Lord.” (Leviticus 27:30). Like Nehemiah, we can assess the dedication of those we know by observing their commitment to giving. The generosity seen in a person’s giving reflects their prioritization of the Lord, our love for others, and our trust in the Lord.
When reading the Bible, it is not difficult to see that a person’s giving is directly tied to the faithfulness of that person to the Lord. Solomon writes “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops (income).” (Proverbs 3:9) The Lord spoke these words to the people through the prophet Malachi, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse (church), that there may be food in My house. Test me in this… and see if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” (Malachi 3:8-10) And Jesus once said, “Give, and it will be given to you… Whatever measure you use in giving, large or small, it will be used to measure what is given back to you.” (Luke 6:38). Giving is not only important to the Lord, but it is a measure of one’s faith.
There is an old parable about two “seas” in Israel. One of them is fresh and the other is very salty. The first, the Sea of Galilee is a freshwater lake that is filled with fish and is surrounded by rich farmland. The second is called the Dead Sea or the Salt Sea and is ten times saltier than the ocean. It is ringed with salt formations and is surrounded by desert. Both lakes receive their water from the Jordan River, but the Sea of Galilee is vibrant and alive with an outlet to the Jordan River while the Dead Sea has no outlet for its water. The Sea of Galilee receives and gives while the Dead Sea only receives and does not flow outward. In a similar way, those of us who give to others keep ourselves flowing and growing, while those of us who do not give to others become stagnant and lifeless. This is a great reminder that giving and sharing with others brings vitality to our lives.
If we want to surround ourselves with people who give to the Lord and others, then we should be willing to give to the Lord and others. As an extension of this, we should also understand that it’s acceptable for us to challenge those we interact with in the area of giving. We should share our own stories of giving which is related to the faithfulness and provision of the Lord. Just as with the Sea of Galilee it will bring life to ourselves and those around us.
FOLLOW UP ACTIVITY
Take time to look over your financial records. If someone was reading them for the first time, would they be able to tell if you were a generous and faithful giver? If so, give praise to the Lord. If not, ask the Lord to help you make a plan to improve. If you’re leading your family through this devotion, dialogue with them about the importance of giving to the Lord. Then, talk with them about the next opportunity you have to give to others as a family and make plans to participate in a meaningful way.
PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, help me to always be faithful in my giving to You and others. And help me to surround myself with others who are faithful in giving to You and others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.