Christian giving is done “in order to honor the Lord,” says Paul in 2 Cor. 8:19. It is not some cold business of raising money or funding a budget. Our Christian giving is an act of worship, no less than saying a prayer, singing a hymn, lending our hearts and ears in faith to the creed, the Scripture lessons and the sermon. It is our sacred honor to God.
Solomon says in Proverbs: “Honor [that is, worship!] the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.” Those who do this know that it is so.
We live in a time of sophisticated fund raising gimmicks. In supporting our churches, our schools, our missions, it is easy to get sucked into the enthusiasm that thinks it doesn’t matter where the money comes from. In fact, if some corporation wants to honor and worship the Lord for us with their money, wonderful! As long as the money comes in! And we’re off the hook!
But here is where we trade away the honor God has given us of worshipping Him with our substance, with all that we have and are. You may recall some heroes of faith who refused to be robbed of their sacred honor of giving.
Abram mounts up a posse to rescue his ne’er-do-well nephew, Lot, who has been carried away captive by the kings of the east along with the king and people of Sodom. Once Abram returns victorious, the king of Sodom slithers out of the slime pits to offer Abram all of the plunder. Granting that the others may take what they want, Abram tells the limp-wristed king of Sodom: “I have raised my hand to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’ ” Abram is sensitive about the glory of God. He cares about where the money comes from.
Commanded by God to build an altar on the threshing floor of Araunah where the temple would one day rise, King David makes Araunah a fair offer for the plot of ground. Araunah offers it for nothing. David’s reply is unforgettable: “I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” David would not be robbed of the honor that was his as a believer.
Mary of Bethany would not be denied the honor of breaking the bottle of precious perfume to anoint her Savior for burial. She could not go to the cross for Him. She could not pay for her own sins. All this only Christ could and did do. But she could not and would not be denied the cherished honor of doing what she could while she had the chance. The honor was all hers. You and I feel the same way, don’t we?