3 Motivations for Giving

January 10, 2012

Churches, generosity, Missiology

What are your motivations for giving?  Why do you give?  I’d like to suggest that there are only three motivations:

  • we give to please ourselves
  • we give to please someone else
  • we give to please God

I am going to limit this discussion to giving in the sense of giving toward the gospel of Jesus Christ in its various forms of giving to a church, supporting a missionary or partnering with a cause that meets needs in the name of Jesus.  Giving of our time or giving toward other worthy projects is beyond the scope of these words today.

You Give to Please Yourself

People that give to please themselves give out of selfishness.  They give in order to make themselves feel better.  Or they give to assuage the guilt in their souls because they know they live an abundant lifestyle while most of the rest of the world suffers.

Jesus said, “…for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.”

John 5:30 c, NIV 84

You Give to Please Someone Else

People that give to please someone else give out of power.  They give in order to make themselves feel more powerful, to exert influence over someone else.  They give to others to show off, to prove that they are better than others, or to demonstrate that they are obedient to the commands to give.

I do need to say that there is a place to please someone else, if that is your true motivation.  “Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up” (Romans 15:2, NIV 84).  Joining someone in their pleasure is genuine and good.  Supporting a church, ministry, church planter or missionary to partner with them is godly.  But check your motivation to make sure that your heart is in the right place and you are not simply giving to make someone else feel better.

“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God?

Or am I trying to please men?

If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

Galatians 1:10, NIV 84

False Motivations Displease God

People who give with false motivations displease God.  Oh God still uses the gift, just like he uses the gospel in people’s lives that is preached with false motives.  In his economy, God is above showy self pleasure.  Somehow his greater plan integrates our lesser plans.

Nevertheless, false motivations for giving become a chink in our sanctification armor.  Like a setback in life, giving to please someone else or ourselves sets us back in becoming like Jesus.  The better way, the way that leads to positive sanctification, is to give to please God.  After all, isn’t the one goal for every Christian to become more like the image of Jesus?

You Give to Please God

People that give to please God give out of a desire to please God.  🙂  Pleasing God is one of our highest motivations in life, a form of generosity that blesses the giver, the gift and the receiver.

“So we make it our goal to please him…”

2 Corinthians 5:9 a, NIV 84

Supporting a ministry to please God shows that you understand the big picture of the system that God has established to glorify himself, to spread the good news of his son and to express himself to and through the body of Christ.

For wealthy Christians, giving to please God is toward the top of the bucket list.  For every Christian, giving to please God is a daily devotion to the Savior.

With this in mind, meditate on these questions as you seek to please God with your giving in 2012:

Why are so many ministries under-supported?

Why are high profile ministries that tickle our ears, entertain us or send us a book so well-supported?

Why is it that churches have to close their doors due to a lack of finances?

Why do missionaries leave the field due to a lack of support?

Why do Christians only give 2% of their incomes?

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