Giving as an act of Worship

having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.” – Philippians 4:18

In the final phrases of Philippians 4:18, Paul describes Christian giving in the language of Old Testament sacrificial worship—language that originated all the way back in Genesis 8. After Noah and his family emerged unharmed through the flood of God’s judgment, he worshiped God: “Then Noah built an altar to Yahweh, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. Yahweh smelled the soothing aroma (same as “fragrant aroma” in Phil 4:18) and Yahweh said to Himself, ‘I will never again curse the ground on account of man…’” (Gen 8:20–21).

This was the essence of worship under the Old Covenant. God’s people were commanded to love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, and strength (Deut 6:5 ), to worship and serve Him only (Deut 6:13; cf. Luke 4:8), and to have no other gods before Him (Exod 20:3). And a principal way in which His people demonstrated that He had occupied first place in their hearts was by offering up to Him of the firstfruits of their livestock, by dedicating animals to God that would have otherwise been used for food or for securing profit through labor. As an act of worship—as a lived-out demonstration that they regarded God as more worthy than their own possessions—like David (cf. 2 Sam 24:24), they gave God that which cost them something.

The one who recognized God’s worth above all things and thus could part gladly and even eagerly with a portion of what God had given to him. And because that was the heart attitude of a faithful worshiper who brought a sacrifice to God, when the odor of the burnt flesh of an ox or a bull or a ram ascended into the heavens, rather than a disgusting stench, the text says it reached the nostrils of God and was to Him a soothing aroma—a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God. Continue reading

Luke 12:32-34

Part 1

Many people are afraid to give because they’re afraid they won’t have enough themselves or that they’ll miss out on something in the future. In this lab, Dr. John Piper highlights the liberating promise that God is a providing shepherd, father, and king. Therefore, we can give freely and generously.


Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:01)

God Knows Your Needs (01:01–03:59)
What should you not be afraid of (Luke 12:32)? You are not to fear the consequences of giving.
You are not to fear being without our basic necessities. God knows everything you need. (Luke 12:29–31)
Jesus overcomes this fear by reminding us that we have a good Shepherd, a good Father, and a good King.
Therefore, give. Be generous.

Sell Your Possessions (03:59–07:35)
If you don’t have cash to give, sell your possessions to get some. (Luke 12:33)
Jesus is not against possessions. We know this because Jesus is simply putting your possessions into someone else’s hands. He’s not prohibiting possessions. (Luke 12:33)
We should hold our possessions so loosely that we are willing to let them go if others are in need.
Being a generous and compassionate person is what shows you are a member of this flock, this family, and this kingdom. And that is because this Shepherd, this Father, and this King delights to give. (Luke 12:32)
If you have a God like this, you can afford to live simply and generously. (Luke 12:32–33)

Closing Prayer and Commission (07:35–08:02)
God, make us the kind of people that prove by our giving that we are sheep of such a shepherd, children of such a father, subjects of such a king. I pray this through Christ, Amen.

Luke 12-32–34, Part 1 from Desiring God on Vimeo.

Part 2

“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” What we treasure has massive implications for the health and security of our hearts. In this lab, John Piper explains why treasure in heaven will satisfy us more than any other, and shows us the pathway to more of the joy found in Jesus.


Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:58)

We are sheep of a great shepherd, children of a great father, and subjects of a great king. This shepherd/father/king delights to give, so we also should be generous toward those in need.

The Treasure in Heaven (Luke 12:33) (01:58–04:03)
This treasure will not be lost (“grow old”).
This treasure will not fail.
This treasure will not be stolen (“no thief”).
This treasure will not be ruined (“no moth destroys”).
The Treasure in Your Heart (04:03–06:09)

The heart is the emotional barometer of the value and security of the treasure (Luke 12:34). If your treasure is vulnerable, your joy is vulnerable. If your treasure is secure, your joy is secure. If your treasure is great, your joy is great.

Your heart follows your treasure, wherever and however it leads. Your heart rises and falls with the quality and security of what you treasure.
The full, trustworthy, satisfying treasure in heaven is God — himself, his Son, his kingdom.

Generosity and Joy (06:09–10:19)
Giving to the needy is providing yourself with a never-failing treasure. Generosity is the way you have this treasure. (Luke 12:33)
You do not earn the kingdom (the treasure). You confirm that you are a person with this treasure by your generosity.
You confirm that God is your treasure, and you increase your treasure, and therefore your joy (Luke 6:38). In God’s economy, there is a correlation between our generosity and our joy.
Therefore, do not be afraid. Let’s sell what we need to in order to give all we can.

Luke 12:32–34, Part 2 // Seek the Treasure That Will Not Fail from Desiring God on Vimeo.

Sacrificial Giving

money8Vance Christie, in an article entitled William Booth delivered a stirring challenge at London’s Exeter Hall, encouraging support of the Salvation Army so it could expand its ministries around the globe. In the audience sat Salvation Army Major John Carleton, a one-time Irish textile executive. He was surrounded by wealthy “civilians” who jotted lavish sums on their “canaries,” the Army’s term for the yellow pledge cards individuals submitted.

Carleton was already living on a shoestring budget. Unlike the well-to-do people all around him, he had no discretionary funds with which to work. Suddenly he was struck with an idea of how he could contribute to this special offering. On his pledge card he wrote: “By going without pudding every day for a year, I calculate I can save 50 shillings. This I will do, and will remit the amount named as quickly as possible.”

This offer touched Booth more deeply than any of the generous pledges made that day. But the thought of one of his officers skimping on his meals for an entire year did not set well with him. The next morning he burst into the office where his son Bramwell and Major Carleton were working. He had come up with a unique plan of his own. No member of the Salvation Army should have to go without something for an entire year. Instead, they could all unite to deny themselves some normal expense for a week and donate the money saved to Army funds.

The first Self-Denial Week was confined to the United Kingdom and raised a whopping 4,820 pounds (equaling over $24,000). To Booth’s delight, the bulk of that amount came in pennies and halfpennies. His aides were troubled by the scarcity of gold coins but the General stated enthusiastically, “Never mind! There is plenty of copper.” He realized that many had given their coppers at greater sacrifice to themselves than when gold and silver coins were contributed by wealthier individuals.

Self-Denial Week became an annual event in the Salvation Army. It was observed wherever Salvationists ministered throughout the world and came to be held one week each spring. Booth always contributed ten pounds to the special offering. Despite his overwhelming schedule, he kept bees and invested the proceeds from the honey sales to the cause. Bramwell and his family lived on bread and water for a week to support the fund. Officers trimmed each other’s hair to save a sixpenny which could then be donated.

When the Salvation Army came to Zululand in South Africa’s eastern republic of Natal, an elderly, half-blind Zulu widow named Maria begged a local farmer for a single week’s work hoeing Indian corn. Touched by her strong faith and desire, he eventually consented, stipulating that this woman in her eighties could work in the fields for a week at the same rate as the village girls—sixpence a day and her food.

During the service at the Army hall the following Sunday morning, the presiding officer invited congregants to present their Self-Denial offering envelopes at the altar. Led by the hand by a young girl, Maria made her way to the altar with an envelope containing her week’s wages. Kneeling, she lifted her largely sightless eyes heavenward and prayed: “Lord Jesus, take my gift. I wish it were more, but it is all I have. May this help You to send light to people who are in greater darkness than I am.”