More Blessed to Give?

Every teacher is selective! It does not matter whether you are using an inductive or deductive approach, you choose what will be taught and the order in which it is taught. Acknowledging this reality is significant. While it will not change it, you may become less accidental in how you exercise selectivity.

When I shared the critique of the Kenyan leader I was not wanting to be critical of the mission team–at all! I rejoice in what God has done through them. I rejoice in their willingness to be vulnerable. I rejoice that this subject was raised.

I, too, have encouraged missions organizations to carefully consider the importance of giving in the earliest stages of discipleship. As you might have noted in one of my replies to a comment made on my last blog, I believe God’s giving nature is one of his core character traits. John 3:16 is pretty specific when it says, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…” Answer the question, “What do you learn about God?” based on this verse and you observe He is an extreme giver!

While I was not present when the referenced rebuke took place, the statement prompts me to believe these Kenyan churches struggle with a lack of needed financial resources which arise from a lack of giving. The problem with waiting to teach on giving is it does not become easier with time, it may actually become more difficult.

Acts 20:17-35 has long been the text that has most significantly challenged my thinking on giving. Here Paul meets with the leaders of the church of Ephesus and reviews their history and pulls back the curtains on some prophetic insights believers have been receiving regarding his near future. Paul is about to face “prison and hardships,” according to the Holy Spirit. With the potential that this may be his last time ever with this group, he warns them to be on their guard against those who will seek “to draw away disciples after them[selves].” By contrast, he reminds them of his lifestyle.

“I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”

Do we deprive people of the greater blessing when we fail to facilitate their discovery of the grace of giving? Are we as intentional in our behavior and explaining the purpose behind it as Paul was?


  1. John, I’ve wondered about the “objectivity” of the narrative sets beyond the initial “Discovering God” set. I realize that when working with oral cultures you don’t really “story tell” Ephesians or Romans.

    But, for instance, I’ve wondered if some of the stories selected to teach “Church Planting Principles” for instance were intended by Luke to teach those or to demonstrate the marvelous providence of God guiding the growth of the church but which are not, perhaps, iron clad rules for future church planters.

    So I’ve wondered – with literate folks using the 3-column study if – after the Discovering God set – one might best just move to Luke-Acts for instance or an epistle. Thoughts?


    1. Chuck, I believe the best biblical example of a Church Planting Movement is what happened in the Roman province of Asia. Paul and his missionary band (Luke was one of this group) were so effective discipling people during three years in Ephesus that Demetrius (the silversmith who fomented the riot referred to in Acts 19) raised the concern that worshiping Diana would soon be neglected. This is a powerful testimony from an avowed enemy. Because of this I believe Luke/Acts and Paul’s letter to the Ephesians comprise a good place to discover one of the major biblical “streams” of reproduction. I really do believe leadership development is a major theme in Matthew’s gospel, also. I would see this as another “stream.”

      The issue of where to go next to discover, should be guided by the biblical material that best addresses the worldview issues of the people engaged in the exploration. This is one of the places where intimate familiarity with the Word can be very helpful for those who would choose the next study.


      1. Yes, the key is not to “proof text” but to find the texts that address the issues at hand in a way that’s faithful to the texts’ intent as much as possible. To make sure I understand you, I take from your answer that after the basic “discovering God” series you’d vary the follow up based on local needs either here or in a cross-cultural setting and only use the ones at as guidelines. (And I agree that the section of Acts to which you refer likely does have the greatest resonance with what takes place in a CPM). I wonder if the Jerusalem narratives juxtaposing Temple and House represent in some ways the transitions that go on in a “Reformation” scenario? Oh well, just a random thought!

      2. The Discovering Obedience, Discovering Discipleship, Discovering CPM and Discovering Leadership scripture lists were all developed with different groups at different stages of spiritual development/maturity in mind to help guide them to a new series of discoveries to help them become more fruitful by being equipped to disciple others.

  2. How would someone in my position, leading a very small group of people, begin to foster this concept? Does it simply begin with our actions? We have begun to reach out to our local community but I want to support these things with scripture and really help build up the ‘why’ behind our giving.


    1. Hope, as is true of any passage, I believe it is key to ponder three questions: 1. What do we learn about God from this? 2. What do we learn about people? and 3. What will obedience to this passage look like in my/our life? Below are some of the passages that address this issue of giving:

      John 3:10-17 Here we see the giving heart of God.
      1 John 3:11-18 Love with actions and in truth
      Matthew 6:1-24 Giving from the proper motive
      Luke 6:27-38 God gives as we give
      Acts 4:32-37 The giving of the first church
      Acts 20:22-35 Paul’s example and Jesus’ teaching
      Philippians 4:10-19 Believers in Philippi supported Paul’s apostolic ministry
      2 Corinthians 8:1-15 Following Jesus’ example as givers
      2 Corinthians 9:6-15 Giving is a test of our faith in God’s richness
      1 Timothy 5:9-20 Giving as a way to bless those in need and support ministry workers
      Malachi 3:6-12 Will we rob God?

      A Discovery Bible Study on all of these passages will start people down the road of developing a biblical view of giving. Let me know if this proves valuable to the folks with whom you are working!


  3. This post and conversation has been a great blessing to me. I have wanted some discourse to examine on biblical giving and I appreciate the discussion here.


    1. Robert, I suspect many in ministry refrain from teaching this material because we do not want to appear to be “angling for money.” The fact that we are financially supported by folks who benefit from our ministry is appropriate–even Jesus and the disciples were funded by women who had benefited from His ministry and accompanied them (Luke 8:1-3). Paul’s practice of supporting himself with his tentmaking precluded him being charged as a charlatan, but even that was assaulted by some in Corinth (2 Corinthian 9:3-12). Regardless of what others may assume about our motivations or legitimacy, this is biblical material that disciples need to explore so we can experience the greater blessing.


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