Giving Our Hearts to God

Written by Larry M. Jaynes:

In this study, we are going to be looking at one of most misunderstood sections recorded in the Gospels regarding a statement that Jesus made about a woman who gave all she had. But before we quote the passages and begin looking at what Jesus was teaching, I want to make the point that giving is a spiritual principle that will always return blessings back to the one who is the giver. God is the “possessor of heaven and earth” (Genesis 14:19, 22), and He honestly does not need financial support from His children to make His ends meet, but much more what He desires of us is our love and respect, prayer and faithfulness. There are spiritual and physical reasons for giving; giving proves to ourselves that God is real and caring for us by blessing us in multiple ways. When we know for certain that He has blessed us, then giving from a cheerful heart (which is offered in thankfulness) becomes a way of life that bountifully reaps. “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully” (II Corinthians 9:6), and God’s desire is that His children reap bountifully.

In the Book of Acts, we have the story of the Apostle Paul who walked up on Mars’ Hill in Athens to preach the Word of God.

Acts 17:22–25:
-22: Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.
-23: For as I passed by, and beheld {and I looked on all of} your devotions {Paul is referring to all their idols, deities, statues, and altars that the Athenians had set up along the walkway leading to the top of the hill}, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him {the unknown God} declare I unto you.
-24: God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
-25: Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing {emphasis supplied}, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.

The altar with the inscription to the unknown god was set up by the Athenians because they were so into worshiping any and all the gods of the world that they had set up an extra altar just in case they may have forgotten anyone. If so, then they had that situation covered; thus, they hoped to not offend the peoples of the world who came to study and worship in their philosophically academic city, “For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing” (Acts 17:21). They were more into political correctness in Athens than we are these days. Paul was able to use the unknown god altar and theme to introduce to them the true Lord of heaven and earth, and the first thing he teaches them is that God does not dwell in manmade temples, but rather He dwells in the hearts of people who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior who said, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you” (I Corinthians 3:6). Indeed if a believer happens to be in a temple, then so is God, but He does not dwell in empty buildings without His people being present, “the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands” (Acts 7:48). Could the Scriptures be more explicit? The Scriptures teach “for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (II Corinthians 6:16).

Please, do not get me wrong, places of worship are needed and inspiring to the hearts of believers who gather in His name; as well, those places are blessed by God, but this does not change the truth that WE are the actual “habitation of God!” Indeed one can find God anyplace and miss Him anywhere, although “in him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). When the heart turns to Him ― then He is discovered within “written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart” (II Corinthians 3:3). His most sacred abode is in His beloved children, as we read in Ephesians, chapter 2.

Ephesians 2:19–22:
-19: Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
-20: And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
-21: In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
-22: In whom ye {YOU!} also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

As far as giving directly to God, Paul taught in Acts 17:25, above, that, “Neither is {God} worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.” There is nothing you can bring to the altar that emanates from the works of the flesh that God requires of you; NO, not your money or other gifts are required by God to prove your worth to Him because you have been already made worthy by the offering of Jesus ― on your behalf, and his gift suffices for all ― forever (Hebrews 10:12–14). Interesting to note that in the Old Testament, King David WAS a man after own God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), but today, in the New Testament, in grace, God IS a Spirit after OUR OWN HEART (John 4:23–24)! He has been trying to reach you from the beginning, and in truth, He called you from before the world began (Ephesians 1:4, II Thessalonians 2:13).

It is TRUTH that makes us free (John 8:32) rather than our finances and/or the amounts we give away in any capacity. Christians are not instructed in the Scriptures to be tithing simply for the sake of giving, or to give because they have been threatened with the supposed retribution of God or to hold to the false mindset of “give to get,” but much rather we “want to give” because we have received, then you have something to give. We can be inspired with the love of God to become cheerful givers who have placed our believing trust and hearts into the care of our heavenly Father.

Mark 12:41–44:
-41: And Jesus set over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.
-42: And there came a certain poor {humble} widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.
-43: And he {Jesus} called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor {humble} widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:
-44: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living. {This is also recorded in the Gospel of Luke 21:1–4.}

The treasury reference above is not in relation to the tithe outlined in Old Testament Law, but rather, this treasury was for many reasons, some religious and some secular, for donations such as giving to community needs for relief. (In the Companion Bible, page 1414, the footnote on this verse reads, “the treasury. Situated in the woman’s court, occupying about 200 feet square, and surrounded by a colonnade. Inside, against the wall, were thirteen receptacles, called ‘trumpets’ (from their shape): nine being for legal dues, and four for voluntary contributions. All labeled for their special objects.”) For instance, one container may have been given to help support the homeless, another for widows and the fatherless, another for disaster or famine relief, another for public works, and so on. We still have these kinds of fundraising containers today, such as for The United Way, The Salvation Army, The Red Cross, the latest catastrophe, and so forth.

Yet, unscrupulously, the standard teaching about the verses above from Mark 12 has been interpreted that this poor little widow caught the Savior’s eye ONLY because she had given away all that she needed to live on, while the rest of the people were merely giving only out of their abundance, and were not really true believers because they were not making any real sacrifice for the Lord. Then, folks like these imply in sundry ways that the more poverty we endure on earth, well then, the greater and richer our eternities will be with heavenly rewards. Oh – baloney! Come on – really? This kind of preaching may instigate a real roof-raising experience at meeting – in temple – at worship, but it completely negates the true teaching of Jesus and of any common sense or decency.

Jesus saw all the people who were giving, not just the widow. Jesus simply observed that of all the donations he personally saw that day coming into the treasury came from people’s abundance, except for that one “poor widow.” Please note that Jesus never said that everyone else was wrong, nor did he say that those people who gave of their abundance were going to hell for giving only what they didn’t need anyways, as I have heard this passage qualified. Nowhere in the Gospels did Jesus preach that giving of one’s abundance is a bad thing; besides, all those people were giving to the Temple treasury (which was a good thing).

Sometimes those who desire more money from believers to make church-ends meet, who come to see their parishioners only as “their cash flow” can fall away from what is important and that is that God is our sufficiency as much as He is theirs. They can often rise up to becoming people like Ezekiel 22:27 references, “Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain.” Now I know that people like this are not everywhere, they are few and far between, but we do come across them from time to time who think that our finances are in reality theirs to coerce out and gather up in the guise of “good works for the Lord.” The shedding of blood in Ezekiel 22:27 is in reference to taking away what one honestly worked for through their efforts by way of blood, sweat, and tears.

If we ever come across their paths, then God’s Word wants us to be aware of their motives as well as their end and ours if we become their enablers by hook or crook. Leaders are instructed to, “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind” (I Peter 5:2), and filthy lucre is dishonorable gains of cash that are extracted by greed. People who are motivated to this kind of gain are “destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself” (I Timothy 6:5). “He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want {more and more although acquiring less and less}” (Proverbs 22:16). If we give to corruption what will we reap (Galatians 6:7–8)?

Please Consider!

Haggai 1:5–7:
-5: Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.
-6: Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.
-7: Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.

This is what happens when filthy lucre is extracted from the children of God ― everybody involved comes up short! Even the funds collected from the innocent are so named filthy lucre. “Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous” (Deuteronomy 16:19). And yet, once I was told by a church leader to only witness to people who met two requirements, 1) they had to have a good paying job, and 2) they had to own a car. Why? Because on average, people who owned a car and worked hard gave more money at church and they were considered nothing more than numbers for balancing the ledgers. I’m sure Jesus never looked at one’s finances before helping them; in fact, he spent much more time with the sick, sinners, and the needy, with those society would throw away, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Mark 2:17), and he was “a friend of publicans and sinners” (Luke 7:34).

Presenting: God’s way of giving, “Every man shall give as he is able, according {ACCORDING} to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee” (Deuteronomy 16:17). We never are instructed to “give to get”; that is not the kind of trade-off God desires; we “get to give!” We all too often reverse God’s will by trying to out-give Him or bypassing His will altogether and never truly receive all that we could. The Bible reveals “freely ye have received, {THEN} freely give” (Matthew 10:8). All we own from God’s perspective is His to begin with, but until we really come to that realization, our stuff is still ours. The wise path is to use our stuff for His glory, then we are all in, and that is all in to receiving our personal needs met by God. Paul questions “what hast thou that thou didst not receive” (I Corinthians 4:7)? You see, all we have is either ours or His, and if you give what you need away, which was given to support you, then why would He give you what He gave you again if all you do is give it away? That is not being a faithful steward, but is an unwise act. There is nothing wrong with giving regardless of how much one gives because when one gives from the heart, then God certainly is blessed, and as well, one will always receive back more abundantly when their heart is in the gift given. But giving should never be done as payment in the hopes of receiving blessings of healing or abundance in return; it’s not tit-for-tat.

The widow in Mark 12 was most definitely giving something beyond her abundance, something no one else gave that day, but what? She had no extra money to give; in fact, she gave very little, two mites. Yet this humble widow was giving something much more precious than money, for she gave to God all her living. The key to understanding the point that Jesus was making to his disciples is in knowing the meaning of the word living, it means one’s life, she was committing herself, her life to God as her sufficiency in life.

This is what Jesus was referring to when he said that she, “cast more in than all they which have cast into the treasury” for she was casting all her cares upon God! She realized that her life was the greatest gift that she could return to God. In the Greek Text the word for “poor” is the word for humble, she was humble before God. She had recognized what so very few people do and that is that God uplifts the humble.

James 4:10 reads, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” She realized that the greatest thing that she could give was herself to God, and acknowledged Him as the real source of her happiness and her true sufficiency in life.

The notion that she gave even what she needed to live on is ridiculous. What kind of blessing or benefit would it really be if she literally starved to death? None, whatsoever!

I could say, “Gee, I wished that God would just give me a million dollars, but my true need at this very minute is that I really need a hot meal!” So if I could thank God for that, well then He can go to work and “do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). Then dessert will be forthcoming, and that is the abundant life in spades!

Do you know what the difference is between one dollar and a million dollars? The amount of zeroes used. God can add zeroes to anyone who gives from the heart to bless others because zeroes are no big thing to God and are something quite marvelous when someone gives with a cheerful heart to others in need. Then He can go to work blessing their account for counting on Him as their true sufficiency in life.

When one commits their ways to the Lord, what they will receive is true spiritual freedom and the desires of their hearts, which is something one does not pay for but receives from God (see Psalms 27:2-6). One desire of the heart is to be a blessing to others, to give help or support when that is needed. All too often Christians cannot help because they are way too strapped in both time and resources, but when God gives time, redeemed time (Colossians 4:5), and the power to get wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18), then giving finds a godly way to be supportive of the needs in our communities and in our fellowship or church outreach programs.

Receiving first, as a biblical principle may seem counterintuitive to common sense but it is a principal to godly receiving. “Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her. She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee” (Proverbs 4:5–9)

I Peter 5:6:
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: