The Ministry of Giving

In a world where time, talent, and treasure are often guarded closely and used poorly, the concept of giving sacrificially from those proverbial pools is often misunderstood. Taking my cue from the missionary Jim Elliot's words, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose," let's explore the biblical concept of stewardship, intricately connected to the ministry of giving.

Looking at the parable of talents as told by Jesus in Matthew 25:14-30, we are challenged to reflect on how we utilize the gifts entrusted to us by the Lord. Stewardship, as seen through the lens of this parable, calls us to use what the Lord has given us not out of obligation but as a joyful ministry unto the Lord and His Church. Taking a closer look at the parable, we see that a master entrusts his servants with varying amounts of talents (currency) before going on a journey. Upon his return, he assesses how they invested his resources. The servants who multiplied their talents were highly commended, while the one who buried his was harshly rebuked. This parable illustrates the expectation of fruitful and purposeful use of the gifts God bestows upon us.

The talents we possess are not accidental but purposefully bestowed upon us by our Creator. Romans 12:6-8 reminds us that we all have different gifts, and we are called to use them diligently. “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness” (Romans 12:6-8).

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Whether it's through our skills, creativity, or leadership abilities, employing our talents for the betterment of the Church and the world becomes a ministry in and of itself. Within that list of gifts given, we also discover that there is the gift of giving. “He who gives, with liberality” (Romans 12:8). This clearly marks a distinction that there are individuals endowed with a unique spiritual gift of giving, which involves meeting the material needs of others. Importantly, this gift is not limited to the affluent; anyone, regardless of financial standing, can possess this spiritual gift. 

Along with the gift of giving, there is the general ministry of giving that all believers are instructed to steward faithfully. This ministry of giving teaches us that what we have is not our own and how we use it reflects where our heart is. Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).

In addition, within 2 Corinthians 9:6-8, the apostle Paul emphasizes the importance of sowing generously, stating that those who sow generously will reap generously. When we dedicate our resources to the service of God and His Church, we contribute to the growth of His Kingdom on earth. There is no wiser investment than this. And while it is tempting to go shout it on the mountain, our generosity that is, Matthew 6:1-4 encourages us to give our financial offerings discreetly, emphasizing the heart behind our giving. Again, the treasures we accumulate on earth are fleeting, but when we invest in the eternal work of God's kingdom, we store up treasures in heaven. Financial giving becomes a ministry when it is done with a cheerful heart and a desire to support the mission of the Church.
Stewardship, as seen through the parable of talents and reinforced by other biblical passages, transforms the act of giving into a joyful ministry. The ministry of giving. And when we embrace the opportunity to contribute our time, talent, and treasure to God's work, we participate in the divine unfolding of His kingdom on earth. Again, there is no greater investment than this.
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