Giving Begins With Ouch
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall

From the Bible: I Chronicles 21:24, Psalm 24:1, Acts 17:25, Psalm 50:10-12

David wanted to build an altar on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. Our text tells us what David said when Ornan offered to donate the land free of charge.

I Chronicles 21:24 (Holman) King David answered Ornan, (No, I insist on paying the full price, for I will not take for the Lord what belongs to you or offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”

David refused to accept the land without paying for it. He knew the value of a gift is measured by the sacrifice accompanying it.

We not only need to give our offerings. We must also feel them. In giving, sacrifice is the beginning virtue, self-denial the first step. Giving begins with ouch.

Until self is denied, little is given. If today’s offering does not hurt us, we will have given only a tip, not a gift.

We generously give only when we consciously do without something we want. The best offering is one which smarts. Pure donations contain an owie.

We all need to examine our giving. Have we recently consciously given up something we wanted in order to give a pure gift of love to Jesus? Too often it’s all about us.

Believers who give regularly often slip into the trap of giving pedantically. Love’s luster can easily dull on our offerings.

The money we give can become just money, not a passionate gift of love. Our gifts, to be generous, have to carry with them a part of our own selves.

Giving self validates the offering. Until we yield our very selves, giving is tough, like pushing a heavy stone up a steep incline. If our heart is not in the giving, it is hard work, every step is a burden.

But once we give our whole selves to the Lord, all other giving becomes easy. Once we give the whole, we can give the parts gladly, and more easily acknowledge all we have already belongs to the Lord. “If a man feels that he does not own himself, much less will he feel that his goods are his own” (Maclaren).

One of the most freeing and relaxing teachings of Scripture is that God owns everything. “The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the Lord” (Psalm 24:1).

Realizing nothing belongs to us makes it easier to give to God. It helps break our emotional attachment and addiction to stuff. We are not owners. We are merely stewards, temporary trustees.

Since God owns everything anyway, there is a way in which we can rightly say we never give Him anything. In I Chronicles 29, David and the people gave profusely for work on the Lord’s house (the same thing we are trying to do through Financially Free). They rejoiced, but did not brag or feel smug.

The people had given, but David blessed God, saying He owns “everything in the heavens and on earth” (v. 11). “Riches and honor come from You” (v. 12). “God, we give You thanks” (v. 13). “Who am I and who are my people that we should be able to offer as generously as this? For everything comes from You, and we have given You only what comes from Your own hand” (v. 14).

God is not “served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives everyone life and breath and all things” (AC 17:25). “Every animal of the forest is Mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird of the mountains, and the creatures of the field are Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world and everything in it is Mine” (Psalm 50:10-12).

Giving is our way of acknowledging all we have belongs to God, and has already been placed on the altar. God asked Abraham to offer his son, Isaac, but was actually wanting to know if He had all that was within Abraham. Isaac’s body was on the altar, but the real question was, is Abraham’s heart also on there?

We outwardly give a part to represent we have inwardly given all. To be real, our offering has to be an outward expression of an inner reality.

Symbolism is useless if divorced from the reality it claims to represent. My wedding ring is a visible token, a statement in gold of my devotion and faithfulness to Ruth, but if not matched by an inner, 100% giving of myself to her in love, the ring is a mockery.

Woodrow Kroll tells a precious story from the 1800s. C. T. Studd, a world champion cricket player, became a Christian. Soon thereafter his dad died. C. T. inherited about $150,000, a huge fortune in those days. Studd had already surrendered his life to full-time career mission service in Africa. He feared the money would always be a temptation to leave the Lord’s work and return home. C. T. had crossed a line. He had given himself, and wanted to never look back.

He gave $25,000 to missionary Hudson Taylor’s work in China, $25,000 to William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, and $25,000 to D. L. Moody. The rest he gave to other ministries until he had $17,000 left. He gave this to his bride on their wedding day, but she refused to accept it. Her response was, “The rich young ruler was asked to give all.” With that, they gave everything to the Lord’s work, and then, penniless, left as missionaries.

God does not need our gifts. He wants our love. Our loving God desires loving echoes. Let every offering be a love-gift, a statement of passion for Him.

God wants us more than he wants anything from us. “If God doesn’t have the hand, He doesn’t want the gift that is in the hand” (McGee).

If you have not yet given yourself totally to God, when you go home today, lean back in a recliner and place your wallet on your heart as a picture of where your treasure really is. Then pray till God gives an absolute brokenness which brings a flood of tears, a heart of repentance, and a joy in giving.