For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[a] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
What is love? Love, I believe is one of the most misunderstood and distorted concept today in our modern world. To most people it has something to do with strong feelings of emotion. To some it is just a camouflage for love of self because we are actually just thinking of our own good and interest. The apostle Paul tried to define love (agape) and this is what he wrote:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8Love never fails” (1 Cor. 13:4-8).
Love, according to Paul, is a set of character qualities. In fact, notice that it is an action verb. It is an act of the will. In other words, it is a decision that we make. Furthermore, if you study closely the passage you will not fail to see that love is a giver. Sa tagalog “mapagparaya” o “mapagbigay.” It gives time, trust, protection, forgiveness, and joy.
I believe that our text gives the best explanation and illustration of the truth that “to love is to give.” Loving is giving. Let me now share three important truths about giving based on this text.
A. The Motive Of Our Giving—Love.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
The reason God gave His Son Jesus Christ to us is agape love. It is not because we are deserving of His love but He so loved us that He chose to give us a Savior because of pure love. Man have violated His command and forfeited our inheritance, “Eden” and eternal life, but God so loved us that He planned a way to redeem us back to Himself – HE GAVE US A REDEEMER, A SAVIOR FROM OUR SINS. If there is one great motivation in pursuing a life of giving, it should be love – LOVE FOR GOD AND GRATITUDE FOR THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.
1) Because God first loved us (1 John 4:19).
Now, we love the Lord and we give to the Lord because He first loved us. We have experienced and received His great love and, therefore, we begin to love the Lord, and if we love the Lord then, we will love also His work, the ministry of the local church where He called us to serve. While salvation is free and by grace yet we know that GRACE in our life entails and creates responsibilities. Grace in our life means that I am to live godly lives. God’s forgiveness does not mean that I can sin again and again. Grace entails responsibility and another major responsibility that we have as His people and disciples is to SUPPORT the ministry of the Gospel.
2) Because Christ’s love compels us (2Cor. 5:14)
We also give because we are compelled by Christ love. I don’t know with you but every time I hear a challenge on missions and giving I could not help my self – pulling out my wallet. There are times that I wish I could give more and I understood now that it is Christ’s love in my heart that compels me. My flesh will not do it by the love of Christ that was poured out in my heart compels me. What compels you to give? I hope and pray that it is because of LOVE – the love of God in your heart.
B. The Manner Of Our Giving—Generous And Sacrificial.
Secondly, from this passage we understand that the manner of our giving should be generous and sacrificial. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Notice that the Lord gave up the VERY TREASURE OF HEAVEN – JESUS CHRIST, THE SECOND PERSON in the TRINITY, THE ETERNAL WORD, THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA. In fact, there is one old hymnal that sings “Heaven came down and glory filled my soul!” HEAVEN! What God gave up is heaven itself! GRABE NA TO! From these I believe we can learn very important principles on how we should give to God.
1) We are to give the BEST of what we have.
If God gave the best for me, He also deserves the best from me. Remember that the Bible, God’s Word, does not teach us to give what we don’t have. Instead, it teaches us to give to the Lord the best of what we have and trust Him to bless and provide our needs. In other words, our giving must be something that is valuable to us, something that will cost us. Not what we don’t have, but the best of what we have.
2) We are to give to BLESS the Lord and others.
Also, let’s give in order to BLESS the Lord and others. This was illustrated in the life of the Corinthian church as reported by Paul:
12This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Cor. 9: 11-15)
If there is one truth or lesson this passage teaches us this is it: If you want thanksgiving and praises to abound and overflow to God, then GIVE generously and sacrificially as the Macedonian churches did!
Let me add that this kind of giving is done in the spirit of joy and cheerfulness as taught by Paul. We are to be cheerful givers because God loves a cheerful giver!
C. The Mission Of Our Giving—Salvation Of Sinners.
Finally, the mission of giving should be the proclamation of the Gospel and with the end goal of saving the lost. Look again John 3:16:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
God gave up Jesus in order to save sinful men. The mission of our giving should be the same!
1) Giving is a tangible proof of our concern for the salvation of sinners.
Remember that our giving is a tangible or concrete proof of our concern and compassion for the lost. This is the reason why we do not encourage you just to give to any charity or televangelist or Christian agencies. We must know where our money goes. And they must go to missions – to the fulfillment of the Great Commission. I am disgusted with fellow pastors who use giving to enrich themselves. You don’t give to buy the pastor a BMW or a jet! You give because it will contribute to the fulfillment of the Great Commission!
2) Giving is tantamount to fulfilling the Great Commission.
The fact is our giving is tantamount to fulfilling the Great Commission. And this should be the reason why we want all of us to be aware and educated on how we should give. So, let me remind us of some basic teaching on giving.
(1) We give our Tithes and Offerings(T&O) to our local church. This is the minimum but Paul teaches us to give what God lays in our heart and according to our income;
(2) We can give to other missions agencies or workers or church after we have fulfilled our first obligation. We don’t divide our T&O and give them to various mission or churches.
(3) Giving is a basic Christian responsibility in order to support your local church.
This is very important because giving is tantamount to fulfilling the great commission. We may not be with actual missionaries ministering out in the field, but if we support the missionaries and the ministry by faithfully giving to god, then we are in actuality, involved in reaching that very mission field.
This is actually the reason why giving is an act of worship. Because every time we are faithfully giving our tithes and offerings, we are actually making the Lord pleased or happy because it means more souls will be added to the Church and we are actually hastening the Day of His soon return!
Therefore, from God’s own very example, we learn these great truths about giving, that
(1) Our motive in giving should be LOVE,
(2) Our manner of giving should be generous and sacrificial, and
(3) Our mission or purpose in giving should be the salvation of the lost.
What I discover as I pursue a life of giving is that there is joy in giving.
The Bible clearly teaches that we are saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8,9). Grace means God’s love has been poured out in our heart through Jesus. And grace in our life teaches us to love god and empowers us to live a life of giving.
This message was delivered by Dr. Valentino Natcher at Emmanuel Church Ministries International in Makati, Philippines last February 14, 2010.