Why Should I Give to Missions?
by Becky Harling
Several years ago, Steve and I were visiting Nigeria. While we were there, Steve was invited to preach in a local church. Halfway through the morning service, a full drum choir began beating their drums. The women, dressed in beautiful, colorful Nigerian dress, began dancing down the aisle and putting their offering in a wooden box down front. I quickly realized that our row was next and silently prayed that God would help me bring on the dance moves. After the women, the men followed and brought their offering. About 20 minutes later the drums began again and the same colorful parade of offering givers began all over again. This time the offering was for a nearby church who was experiencing a drought. Still later in the service the drums began again! This time the offering was for a congregation a few miles away whose church building had been burned to the ground by terrorists. Needless to say, after three different offerings, we left that church flat broke.
Later that day, I was reflecting back on the joy-filled people who attended that service. I have never witnessed such exuberant givers. The joy on their faces as they danced down the aisles told the whole story. Most of them had far less than the average American, yet they willingly partnered with God to further the message of the gospel. This really is the idea behind giving to mission work.
Here in America, we are often driven by a sense of independence. Yet God never once in Scripture honors independence. He calls us to community and dependence on Him. He invites us to support others in the body of Christ and commands us to join Him in the great commission (Matthew 28:18).
All of us are called to participate in the great commission. It’s a matter of whether you give or go. For some, it’s a calling to both. The Apostle Paul wrote to Titus advising him to “Do everything you can to help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way and see that they have everything they need” (Titus 3:13). To the church at Philippi, Paul wrote, “I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me” (Philippians 4:10a). The church at Philippi had been faithful in giving to Paul so that the ministry could continue.
As I think about both these passages, several thoughts come to mind about giving to missions:
God wants all of us to participate in the great commission. The great commission is not optional or just for a select few people. God’s heart is that the gospel be known among all people groups. If you can’t go, then you absolutely should be giving.
God blesses us so that we can bless others. I cannot think of one time in all of Scripture where God says He blesses us so that we can simply live comfortable lives. He blesses us with the idea that we become a conduit to bless others. Much of the world does not live at the same standard of living we do. I truly believe if everyone in the Western church gave toward world missions, there would be more than enough to finish the task of getting the gospel to all people groups.
God loves generosity and fills us with joy as we give. Generosity is a godly quality. The main goal in God’s economy is not a secure 401K. The main goal is that we as followers of Jesus follow His example and live a life of generosity. I love the wisdom found in Proverbs 11:24-25: “One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” The goal in giving to missions is not to get more. However, those who give generously are blessed. More often than not, it’s the blessing of joy and peace, knowing that you have participated in God’s eternal purpose. I have never met a person who is truly generous who is not filled with joy. It seems to be a natural benefit of living a generous life.
Friend, may I gently challenge you? This is the one principle that God invites us to test Him on. “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this, says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it” (Malachi 3:10). I have seen the truth of this principle again and again. I know of a young couple, struggling to meet their monthly bills, who are not only tithing but also giving to missions! God keeps showing up. He meets their needs and has poured out so much joy on their young family! You can’t out-give God. It’s not possible! I dare you to try.
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