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April 1, 2011

Spiritual Gifts Series

The Spiritual Gift of

Giving

Romans 12:8

“he who gives, with liberality,”

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     We have seen that the many, but not all, spiritual gifts relate to basic commands to all believers.  The person possessing the special Spiritual Gift of Giving falls into this category.  Every Christian must give, but the person with the Spiritual Gift of Giving has a special ability to give with liberality.

Background on New Testament Giving

     Jesus taught about giving on numerous occasions.  Let us examine a few of these teachings.     

        Giving Means You Share Food and Clothing.  Jesus taught the crowds to share (“μεταδότω“) one tunic if anyone had two tunics, and do likewise with food (Luke 3:11). In that context, Jesus taught the crowds to show real repentance,  in light of God’s impending judgment, described as an axe already laid at the root of the tree. They should begin doing deeds in keeping with their spiritual repentance and turning to God.  If Jesus expected the crowds to share their clothing and food, how much more should His disciples give?

       Giving Means Working First So You May Give Later.  In Ephesians 4:28,  we learn that we work, instead of stealing, so that we will have something to share (“μεταδιδόναι“) with those people in need.  Notice the relationship between working and giving here.  Work first so you may share later.  You may work even after you have enough for yourself and family, so that you may share with those people in need (“χρείαν“).

       Giving Means You Recognize God Owns Everything Already.  God tells us that every beast of the forest, the cattle on a thousand hills, every bird of the mountains, and everything that moves in the field is His (Psalm 50:10-11).  He flatly declares that the world is His, and all it contains (“כִּי-לִי תֵבֵל, וּמְלֹאָהּ”) (Psalm 50:12). 

       Giving Means You Rely upon God To Sustain You Everyday.  God created every living thing on earth, and feeds them every day.  He opens His hand and satisfies the desire of every living thing (Psalm 145:15-16; compare Matthew 6:26).  Jesus taught that we must avoid Gentile anxieties about food and clothing by trusting God to provide them to us as we need them (Matthew 6:25-34).

       Giving Means You Give All You Have.  One day Jesus sat down opposite the treasury, and taught His disciples about giving by comparing the large sums rich people put into the treasury with the two small copper coins the poor widow put into the treasury.  Jesus taught that the widow gave all she had to live on.  By giving her all, she put in more than all of them (Luke 21:1-4). Be sure to learn the lesson here.  Spiritual giving never means giving quantitatively (large sums), but rather qualitatively (all you have from the heart).  Notice the poor widow had two coins, and she gave both. She could have held one back, but gave both coins to God’s service.

        Giving Means You Do It Quietly and Secretly.  Jesus taught His disciples to give to the poor without sounding trumpets to be honored by men (Matthew 6:2), but rather do it quietly and secretly so that even your left hand does not know what your right hand is doing (Matthew 6:3-4).

     

Romans 12:8 Word Studies

      Paul only used a few words to describe the Spiritual Gift of Giving in Romans 12:8.  We can examine these words to understand the points he was making about the Spiritual Gift of Giving.  Please remember always that God inspired each word (verbal inspiration) of the Bible and all the words (plenary inspiration) in the Bible God inspired.

       The Spiritual Gift of Giving: “Giving” Word Study.  The New Testament description of this spiritual gift in Romans 12:8 certainly is brief.  Let me start this study by examining the words themselves in this verse.  Let us start with the word for “giving” in Romans 12:8.  Paul does not use the normal word for giving (“δίδωμι“). Instead, he uses a word used infrequently (only two other times) in the New Testament. Scholars who study words in the Bible define this word here for giving (“μεταδιδοὺς“) as to impart, give or share.  As part of good word study technique, let us see how this same root word has been used in those other two places in the New Testament. First, in Luke 3:11,  as we saw above, Jesus told the crowd (including unbelievers) to share their tunics and food with those who have none.  Second, in Ephesians 4:28,  we saw above that believers should work so that they may share earthly goods with others.  In both instances of the other uses of this particular term for “giving,” it refers to sharing earthly goods with needy people. Compare this sharing earthly goods emphasis with the widow’s act of giving.   In the Luke 21:4, the widow cast (“ἔβαλεν“) her gift (“τὰ δῶρα“) out of her poverty (“τοῦ ὑστερήματος“)  and literally cast all the life out of her (“πάντα τὸν βίον“), meaning that she cast all her money for living.  The point with her is that poor widow did not just share, she gave all she had to live on.  She did not just share her earthly goods, but she cast her entire life money into the treasury for God’s use.  She gave everything, and showed us that true spiritual giving will never be how much you gave (the rich people gave vast sums from their riches) in the sense of quantity, but rather God demands high quality giving–all you have (the widow’s two coins).

        The Spiritual Gift of Giving: “Liberality” Word Study.  The other word in Romans 12:8 dealing with giving is the word translated “liberality” (“ἁπλότητι“).  The New Testament has at least seven uses of this basic noun and those uses fall into two basic categories of meaning.  Compare James 1:5, page 1887, where God gives wisdom generously (“ἁπλῶς“) to saints who ask for it.

Meaning One of “Liberality”: Bountiful Giving.  In 2 Corinthians 9:11, God explains the basic principle of supply and multiply concerning our giving.  God not only supplies our giving, but He multiplies our giving (2 Corinthians 9:10). Next, God explains that the Corinthians will be enriched in everything for all liberality, apparently referring to their giving with “all liberality” (“πᾶσαν ἁπλότητα“) for the saints in Jerusalem who were suffering from famine and poverty (2 Corinthians 9:11). This phrase “all liberality” describes the extent of the Corinthians’ giving–all out giving.  Putting these thoughts together, God tells the Corinthians that He will enrich them as they give all out. God continues on and explains that the saints will glorify God because of the Corinthians for the “liberality” (“ἁπλότητι“) of their contribution to the saints in Jerusalem and to all (2 Corinthians 9:13).  Earlier in 2 Corinthians 8:2, Paul told the Corinthians about the giving of the Macedonians, even though they were suffering a great ordeal of affliction, their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality (“ἁπλότητος“) of giving.

Meaning Two of “Liberality”: Sincerity.  In  2 Corinthians 1:12,  we see the term “sincerity” (“ἁπλότητι“) which relates closely to the word for liberality described above.  In 2 Corinthians 1:12,  we see that “sincerity” describes the proud confidence Paul had of the way he conducted himself toward the whole world, and the Corinthians in particular, “in holiness and Godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God.”  Paul emphasized here that he was sincere, and without any type of deceit, dishonesty, or pride.  Likewise in Ephesians 6:5, slaves must obey their master in sincerity (“ἁπλότητι“) of heart, as if they were serving Christ (see the same thought and term used in  Colossians 3:22).  In 2 Corinthians 11:3, Paul warned the Corinthians against falling into being led astray in their minds, by the same tactics Satan used to deceive Eve, from the sincerity (“ἁπλότητος“) and purity of devotion to Christ.  In that last passage, we see that sincerity can also be a quality of devotion in the mind to Christ. So, let us assemble our knowledge of the uses of the terms, and the primary teachings about giving, and summarize our study.

Summary of the Gift of Giving

       The Spiritual Gift of Giving means that you can share physical goods with people in need, and do so with all out giving, from a sincere and pure heart. People with this gift often like to work extra hard, so they have extra to share with people in need.  People with this gift exercise it secretly and quietly,  deliberately avoiding the praise of men (and without blowing trumpets), so they can receive the reward of God.  The people with the gift of giving already comprehend that God owns everything, and He alone supplies and multiplies the seed they sow into the lives of the needy.  When they give, the people with the gift of giving never have cares or anxieties about their own welfare, because they know God alone provides for them.  God loves all cheerful givers, even those saints who do not have the gift of giving (2 Corinthians 9:7).

           So we learn more about the Spiritual Gift of Giving today.

       ●  We learn that God uses the Spiritual Gift of Giving to help people share their possessions with those people in need. 

       ●  We learn that the Spiritual Gift of Giving means you give sincerely, without ungodly or selfish motives, and you have no anxieties about giving all you have.   

       ●  We must all work to earn enough not only to meet our own needs, but also to have money to give to those in need.  We can count upon God to supply and multiply our seed, but the Spiritual Gift of Giving allows some of us to work extra hard, and earn extra amounts, to help the needy with liberality.

Application for Today

        Today, I want to give with liberality, and without anxiety.  I want to trust God to provide for all my needs, as I work hard to earn enough to share my earthly goods with those in need.  What will you give today?