Giving - Has Guilt Clouded Your Giving?

By Jim Olsen

Key Verse
1 Thes 2:8 “We cared so deeply that we were delighted to share with you (metadidomi) not only the gospel of God, but our own lives as well. That is how beloved you have become to us.”

Stop and consider the following before you read on. The topic of giving: It’s everywhere in life. In the church, the topic of giving has been often abused. Failed movements have come and gone where leaders exclaimed, “give money to God and you’ll get back a thousand times.” These are false teachings that come from insincere men who take scripture out of context, robbing the flock and turning off the world from what is the center of our faith; giving. So, take the time to think about it personally. Have you been hurt by churches erroneous teaching on giving? If you have, let it be known, Jesus has forgiveness for you. Understanding more about the gift of giving will help set you free. Read on with an open heart.


We’ve been going through the gifts, charisma, of the Holy Spirit. This session is on the gift of giving. Giving, sharing what we have, should be done with a sincere, generous heart as Paul said in Rom 12:8 “if (the gift) is giving, let him give generously.” In that verse, giving means sharing or imparting and generously means simplicity, sincerity or not self-seeking. We’ll be looking at how the Greek words translated ‘giving’ and ‘generously’ are used to get a fuller understanding of this gift and we’ll be praying that everyone reading will receive this gift.


“For God gave” is the central truth to what Christianity is all about. The Greek word translated ‘give’ is used 415 times. “I obeyed” only happens because “God gave.” In fact, God saw it was impossible for man to truly obey, because in each man’s heart is sin. He chose to give us an open invitation to a gift; the gift of receiving God’s Holy Spirit and becoming a new creation. A new person dwells inside every believer, because his Spirit is awakened with God’s resurrection power. Take a moment now, ask him to forgive you, fill you with himself. So, you see for you to say “I obeyed” you have to experience “God gave.” God’s giving is where the gift of giving begins.


We’re considering two Greek words; the first, metadidomi, is the word ‘giving’ in the gift of giving. It comes from two root words: meta, meaning ‘with’ and didomi, meaning ‘give.’ It’s translated share or impart. The key verse this week is 1 Thes 2:8. In it Paul links giving or sharing with ‘deeply caring.’ So, it’s from a heart of love we give. This is the first place you’ll be poisoned. Giving out of compulsion or command does not mean you deeply care. Don’t get me wrong; I believe in tithing, giving away ten percent of your income is a good practice, for it’s a way to demonstrate “my life belongs to God.” But, if you are tithing simply by obedience, ask the Lord to soften your heart. Pray 1 Thes 2:8 as a promise; ask God to make you deeply care for those you give to. This verse also links giving with delight. It’s not all about money, for there’s no mention of it in this verse, it about sharing the gospel and lives (meaning time) with fellow believers.


1 Thes 2:8 “We cared so deeply that we were delighted to share with you (metadidomi)  not only the gospel of God, but our own lives as well. That is how beloved you have become to us.”


Even before Jesus arrived, giving was central to God’s message. John the Baptist spoke about giving being an antidote to sin. He started out with a truthful saying. “All have sinned, all have fallen short of God’s glory” (Rom 3:23). “There is none righteous, no not one” (Rom 3:10). In John’s style, he phrased human’s failings as a “brood of vipers”. What’s important is the remedy: John said that sharing with those in need is a righteousness act.


Luke 3:7 “Then John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?” Luke 3:10 “The crowds asked him, “What then should we do?”  11 John replied, “Whoever has two tunics should share (metadidomi) with him who has none, and whoever has food should do the same.”


The Spirit’s gift of giving ordinarily uses physical means. People who use the gift of giving often have jobs and investments that they are blessed with. In Eph 4:28, Paul writes about sharing metadidomi, your wages. He says to stop stealing. Don’t look at other people’s gifts, covet what they have. Instead, work. The Greek word ‘work’, kopiao, means ‘to work hard, to feel fatigued.’ It comes from a word that means reduce your strength. He’s saying “give it everything.” Expect that when the gift of giving comes on you, power will come with it. You’ll get new inspiration and new ideas so that you’ll be able to give more. Remember, God’s word is not a command book, it’s a promise book. You’ll be happy, even overjoyed, to work hard when you receive this gift. And, it won’t be just about writing a check, the gift also will change how you talk. You’ll share financially and build up people who have needs.


Eph 4:28 “He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing good with his own hands, that he may have something to share (metadidomi) with the one in need.  29 Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building up the one in need and bringing grace to those who listen.”


Now to the really important part: Being generous and sincere. It’s a requirement for the gift of giving. The Greek word haplotes, is translated generous. It means “singleness, simplicity, sincerity, mental honesty, free from hypocrisy, not self-seeking” (Thayer). That definition strikes me: How many leaders, whether politicians, bosses, or particularly church leaders, have proven themselves to be false? A gift of giving will be poisoned if you don’t muster up forgiveness for them, and then ask the Lord to take away the man in the mirror, because according to God’s word, you yourself are guilty of the exact same thing!


To prepare yourself to receive a gift of giving, start praying 2 Cor 9:10-12 into your life. Once again, it’s a verse that’s a promise to be prayed over. Paul starts by saying God gives seed, which can be multiplied into your life. A promise that you’ll be enriched in every way, not just your bank account, but new ideas, new friends, new opportunities, for the purpose that you may become generous on every occasion. Envision how your life can blossom into becoming an expression of thanksgiving to God.


2 Cor 9:10 “Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your store of seed and will increase the harvest of your righteousness.  11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous (haplotes) on every occasion, and your giving through us will produce thanksgiving to God.  12 For this ministry of service is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanksgiving to God.”


So let’s ask. Form a prayer with me. Start by asking Jesus to give you the gift of giving. It’s there for every Christian to receive. “Jesus, I ask for a gift of giving.” Now, if you’re one of the many who just want more, let’s pray this “I ask for an overflow from you Holy Spirit. Use me to put smiles on other’s faces. Fill me with ideas and the power to give.” Now, quietly receive. It will come in the form of seeds, little thoughts and tiny promptings, sometimes a hand of love reaching out to you, but that hand of love isn’t for you, it’s for someone else. Are you getting it? If not, your gift of giving may have been poisoned by overzealous leaders not looking out for what’s best for you. Forgive them… and go back to praying. Encouragement and asking are the same Greek word. It’s ok to keep banging on the judges door, Jesus recommends it.


Now for the spiritual side of this gift; the Greek word metadidomi , sharing, is translated impartation. Impartation is rarely taught at church, because many don’t want to upset people who believe such things ended after the church was established in the first century. But, the gift of giving and impartation lives on. It’s where one believer transfers his or her gift to another by praying with them or specifically, praying that they receive a gift of the Spirit. Paul said in Rom 1:11 that he longed to see the believers in Rome. Apparently, Paul realized that reading his letter was not enough; he wanted to meet them face to face so he could give a “spiritual gift to strengthen” them. The Greek reads “a wind-driven (spirit), unmerited favor (charisma-gift), to fix your direction, prop you up and confirm you.” It’s important you don’t forget to visit or invite that prophet or special speaker so you can receive some of the fruit of their ministry.


Rom 1:11 “For I long to see you so that I may impart (haplotes) to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you, 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”


As for generosity, or single minded devotion, I’ll close with Paul’s vision of what the church is. Certain scriptures are designed to paint a picture in your mind. In this case, Paul wants us to see the church not as a bunch of people gathered together, but as a pure, spotless, virgin presented to Christ. He talks about what can remove you from that simple vision; it was the same thing that Eve encountered in the garden. A serpent, taking your attention away from the daily walk you have with Christ, your beloved, and centering in on the world around you; especially focusing on a tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Rather than walking, trusting and believing, your mind is now laden down with rules, with an idea that you can please the Lord by doing the just right things, justified by your works. In 2 Cor 11:2-3, Paul says our goal should be simple and pure haplotes devotion to Christ. He will empower you to live a life pleasing to God.


2 Cor 11:2 “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. For I promised you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. 3 I am afraid, however, that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may be led astray from your simple (haplotes) and pure devotion to Christ.”