The Great Giver Teaching to Give

BELIEVING men are to be not merely cisterns, but springs. "He that believeth on Me, out of him shall flow rivers of living water" (John vii. 38). One of these rivers which the Master declared should not fail to flow from His believing ones is delight in giving, or the gladsome habit of using all we possess as stewards for the Lord, and not as proprietors of the same. When an Israelite had offered the sacrifice of atonement at the altar, he must forthwith thereafter bring the mincJia, or meat-offering, an offering in which he symbolically gave up to the Lord the possession of all his property. But we should not have said, "he must bring;" for it was all privilege— he was permitted to bring his property, to give vent to his gratitude, to exhibit practically, "What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits'!" So did Zaccheus at Jericho; so did the Pentecostal Church at Jerusalem.

Many do not seem to notice how often the Lord Jesus inculcated truth regarding this matter. His sayings on the point are very many; nor do we wonder that it should be so, considering that selfishness is in us a root of bitterness ever springing up to trouble us.

I. He Stated the Duty. And when he did so, it was done in startling terms. "We read in Luke vi. 30, "Give to every one that asheth of thee." Have we read the words aright 1 Yes, the words are plain. Is there no other translation possible 1 No, they are too plain and downright to admit of any doubt. Is there no various reading, then 1 No, none; the words stare you in the face, "Give to every one that asketho/thee /"

Disciples of Christ, you are to be a light, ever dispensing rays; you are to be a Well, affording something to all who come. As you are to "Pray without ceasing," and to "Give thanks in everything" (1 Thess. v. 17, 18), so you are to have an always-giving heart and hand—a realization of that Well over which was written:

"Christian reader view in me,
An emblem of true charity,
Who freely what I have bestow,
Though neither heard nor seen to flow;
And I have full returns from heaven,
For every cup of water given."

While another, who is not a disciple, may be grumbling, "So many calls!" you are to reply, "Yes, very many; but they are all calls in providence to cultivate in me a giving disposition." The Master had very "many calls" upon Him for healing all disease, and helping all want, and "gave to every one."

Let us understand the context of this passage, Luke vi . 30. In the preceding verses, Christ inculcates, "Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you" (Luke vi. 27, 28). This is the very mind that was in Him; this was what the Cross exhibited to the full; this is the heart of the Gospel, which is truly the manifestation of God's love to enemies in the Beloved Son, made a curse for sinners that He might bless them. And surely this is the holy mind that disciples are expected to copy from their Master. Then in v. 29, we see the meekness and calmness of Christ: "Unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other: and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take away thy coat also." We, His disciples, are expected to possess a meekness of spirit and a self-control that would carry us this length, whenever circumstances required. And so v. 30 comes in: "Give to every one that asketh of thee ;" followed by the clause: "And of him that taketh away thy goods, ask them not again." Surely, these are words that call for a giving mind, and a readiness to let go the things that are lawfully ours! Can less than this be the meaning?

If, then, we turn to Matt. v. 39-42, we have the same subject treated of in very similar terms. It bids us not revenge, but be prepared "if one smite us on one cheek, to offer also the other "—not revenge but rather, "if compelled to go a mile, go two," should that be the alternative,—not revenge but if unjustly dealt with so that " one sue thee at the law and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also"—far better adopt this alternative than exhibit the spirit of the -world. Even so, "Give to him that asketh of thee, and from him that would borrow of thee, turn not thou away," calls upon us to be ever ready to give, instead of being annoyed, as some are by "so many calls." When asked, or when providence puts a case in our way, there must be no harsh denial, but at least an entire willingness to give, if a case of need be apparent.

In all this, who can fail to discern the spirit and tone of the Lord Jesus, whose charity sought not its own, but laid out even glory itself on us the undeserving? Such a tone of character therefore, must be essential to real holiness, and the want of it a deformity, inasmuch as such a want is unlikeness to the Lord.

"Give strength, give thought, give deeds, give pelf,
Give love, give tears, and give thyself;
Give, give—be always giving,
Who gives not, is not living,
The more we give,
The more we live."

II. He stated the Manner. We are to give with a

happy, cheerful feeling, as being privileged todoablessed thing. "It is more blessed to give them to receive" (Acts xx. 35) are words of the Lord Jesus—words preserved and embalmed in the Church, words so well known that Paul could refer to them as in a manner proverbial, words that bear the peculiar and unmistakeable characteristics of the soul and heart of Him from whose lips they fell. They are words that tell us not simply that "God loveth a cheerful giver" (2 Cor. ix. 7), but that God has connected blessedness with right giving, so that the giver's face cannot fail to shine, if he knows what he is doing. Yes, "It is more blessed to give," as Mary did at Bethany, "than to receive," as Solomon did when his ships returned laden with gold of Ophir, and every rare and precious thing.

Giving, it appears, is not to be reckoned self-denial at alL It would have been no wonder though the Lord had made this call on us for giving, even if every act of giving had been sore self-denial, a wrenching off a right hand. But it turns out that there is no selfdenial in it to a soul fully imbued with the mind of God. To such a soul, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." "We do no one a favour by our giving; we bless ourselves; that is, we, in the very act, break open the alabaster box which pours on ourselves its fragrance and refreshing.

The grand illustration of this blessedness is to be found in the Godhead. Man likes to get, God likes to give; and it is God that is "blessed for ever." In the plan of Eedemption, we find the Father counting it "more blessed to give than to receive." He developes (so to speak) His own bliss by giving that immense, that infinite gift, His own Son. This is the rate at which He, whose blessedness is giving, delights to give. Here is a gratification of His giving heart; He bestows on man the unspeakable gift, the beloved Son. To Him He grants the gift of a multitude that no man can number, a countless flock of ransomed souls for their Shepherd's glory, while to each of the flock He gives not only the Beloved Son, but also the Holy Spirit with all His store of graces and of joys. Then, also, we find the Son's rate of giving to be in no respect less liberal. He gives Himself, "God manifest in flesh," for us, Himself with all His obedience, all TTia suffering and death, all His merit, and all that all these purchase and make sure. The price of the purchased blessings must not be forgotten; for He gave not only service, but anguish, woe, death, in short, whatever justice sought —all in order to present us with grace and glory, without money or price on our part. O what giving is this!

O my soul, what giving is here! And the Holy Gfwst, also (who in Ps. li. 12, is called "the free," i.e., the princely, or generous, or liberal Spirit,) comes in the name of Jesus, and makes a gift of Himself! so that thus in one sum we are made to receive, " Love, joy, peace, goodness," in short, all holiness, all excellency, and all that is contained in Eternal Life. What giving! we again exclaim. The full sea of Godhead-bliss flowing in upon man! And this giving is one of the forms of Godhead felicity. "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Men and brethren, who would not taste something of this peculiar joy ?" It is not your money

1 want (says a man of God), but your happiness."

III. He stated the Measure, and Rule. "Freely ye have received, freely give" (Matt. x. 8). Ye have got from your Master without His looking for requital in any shape; give ye to your fellow-men without regard to the probability of requital from them. This is so far the force of "freely;" but add to this also the amount of what we received freely from Him. Who can forget how full, how frank, how generous He was 1 The pattern of our giving as to measure is to be the Lord's oxon measure; and in regard to that we know that He gave as prompted by His own loving, kindly, generous nature; not stinting the amount by regard to the likelihood of getting thanks, or meeting with a return of benefit. Let none, therefore, excuse in himself an unreadiness to give by saying, "Possibly it may be turned to little advantage by the person who gets"—that word "Freely," enjoins you to copy the Saviour's example; to open wide your heart and hand even though your kindness be ill-requited, or never owned at all. Neither say, "I have stopt giving in the meantime, because others equally able, are not giving up to their measure." What hast thou to do with what other men give f We ask again, what hast thou to do with what other men give 1 Thy part is to remember and to consider what thou hast received; yes, what thou thyself (leaving others out of view) hast received at the hand of God. Look at the largeness of that amount, and how it was given unstinted and ungrudged, in spite of His knowledge of selfishness in thee, selfishness which (like the sand drinking in the raiu) would so quickly appropriate all, and exhale upward almost nought. MrCheyne quotes the saying of an old Divine: "What would have become of us if Christ had been as saving of His blood as some men are of their money 1"

And farther. When Jesus says, "Ask and it shall be given you" (Matt. vii. 7, Luke xi. 9), does He not suggest much as to the measure; especially when He adds, "What man of you is there whom if His son ask bread, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?" The measure here is simply, the very thing required. Christ gives not merely something but up to the supplying of the want; if we copy Him here, then as far as lies in our power we shall aim at giving as much as will meet the exigency, as much as will come up to the demand. You know that we are only stewards of all we possess; our money is not our own. "Occupy till I come," is the superscription on every coin.

But reverting again to Matt. x. 8, {:Freely ye have received, freely give," let us notice that the first application of that counsel was in reference to the preaching of the Gospel, the imparting to other men what they themselves had received. Go and tell your fellow-men these good news, however ungratefully hearers of it may act towards you; for you yourselves were undeserving of such a blessing when the Lord sent it. Show your estimate of what you have received by your efforts to impart it to others far and wide. Do this by personally telling it as opportunity occurs, faithfully, frequently, prayerfully.

But since you can do it very effectually (and far more extensively than your personal influence can reach) by helping others to proclaim the tidings of great joy, you must not, you cannot, fail to avail yourselves of this means of "freely giving." What, then, is the rate of your giving for the support of the Gospel ordinances at Home! Is it such that you can say: "You may fairly estimate my sense of the value of the Gospel by the measure of my giving 1" We do not ask, Do you give ten shillings annually toward the support of the Ministry, or do you give ten pounds 1 but ask, Is your giving such in its measure that God could point to it and say, "See! here is one who gives freely, because he feels that he received freely?" As to our spreading the Gospel among the Jews and the heathen —what a melancholy calculation that is which was recently made in regard to the communicants of two of the most numerous Presbyterian bodies in this land, viz.: that the yearly average of Missionary giving for every communicant amounted to somewhat like one shilling and no more! As if each communicant said, "I value my share in the Gospel at this rate. I give at the rate at which I received!" Shall the Lord judge any of us by this measure 1 Has He deserved no more than this at our hands 1

TV. He stated some of the Benefits resulting.

These are His words: "Give and it shall be given unto you, good measure, pressed down and shaken together and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete, it shall be measured to you again" (Luke vi. 38). Here is a promise of recompense, ay, of recompense for doing what is in itself most blessed! For such is the Lord's manner. How like Him who said: "Whosoever shall give to drink to one of these little ones a cup of cold water only, in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you he shall in no wise lose his reward" (Matt. x. 42). "Blessed is he that considereth the poor, the Lord will deliver him in the time of trouble" (Psa. xli. 1). It was the same Lord who by the mouth of David said: "I have not seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging bread: he is ever merciful and lendeth, and his seed is blessed"—where (you see) the giving characteristic of the man thus blessed is unmistakeably held up to view. It is not every good or righteous man; it is the generous, the "lending," righteous man. And how truly in keeping with His own manner was that saying of the Master to the Young Ruler, " Sell whatsoever thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven" (Mark x. 21).

In point of fact, men and brethren, "giving well," is as needful to our soul's prosperity as "doing well;'' and on the other hand, as surely as "the doer of the work is blessed in his deed" (James i. 25), so surely is the willing giver of his substance blessed in his giving. Hearken, beloved brethren !" Thy prayers and thine alms are come up as a memorial before God" (Acts x. 4). Hearken yet again: "Not that I desire a gift, but I desire fruit that may abound to your account" (Phil. iv. 17), is the language used respecting the giving of the jailor at Philippi, the givings of Epaphroditus, Lydia, Euodias, Syntyche, and the rest who had ministered of their substance to Paul.

It was the experience of a godly Glasgow merchant in other days, that the liberal man is the man whose riches are likely to continue with Him. He quaintly remarked, in allusion to Proverbs xxiii. 5, that "clipping the wings," was the only way to prevent riches flying away as the eagle. There was deep meaning in his words; for the Master's words go thus far, and much beyond it, too. Notice the special terms of Christ's declaration; not only shall you get some requital, but you shall find "good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over!" This is the recompense! What words are these! What a promise is here! The complete fulfilment shall soon reach us in the Kingdom, but even here we shall often get instalments.*

And do you not think, brother, that you and I have good security for the loan which we may lend to the Lord?

A man says: "I do wish to get blessing for the ministrations of my pastor and for Gospel ordinances." And this man prays for blessing as well as diligently attends on ordinances. But the man must add to his plan; he must also "give," and not leave it to others to give all. He must have a hand in the sums gathered for upholding the ordinances, just as Cornelius had his "alms " ready, as well as his "prayers." They who do not give according to their ability to the sustenta

* Our version seems to convey the idea that the recompense is to be conveyed by the hands of men; "shall men give unto you" (Luke vi. 38). But the Greek phrase signifies simply, "It shall be given to you.'' They whose business it is to do it shall be employed by God to give the over-running abundance of reward.

tion of the ministry, need not expect to get the benefits they would otherwise obtain. "Give, and it shall be given unto you."

Another says: "I wish the congregation I am connected with to flourish; its schools, its schemes of benevolence, and all such objects; I pray for them often and heartily." Well, but Cornelius would have added "alms " to "prayers." We do not shrink from saying, You must put into the plate of what God has given you, as well as put your prayer into the censer of the High Priest. "Give, and it shall be given unto you.''

Another says: "I am deeply interested in the cause of missions; I long for the day when Jew and Gentile shall all know the Lord." But do you, besides good wishes and prayers, give the help of your money 1 Not the mere mite which you never feel the want of, but the sum that testifies that your interest is really deep and practical 1

But one of our poor brethren puts in a question here"Am I, then, necessarily a loser under ordinances, because I have not got the means of giving, and so cannot bring an offering 1" No, not at all; your case is of the same class with that of the sick and feeble, stretched on beds of languishing, who cannot work and labour for God, but have "the will to do it." The Lord knoweth the "willing " heart; and the willing one may rest assured that to him Jehovah is saying as to David when he would fain have built the Temple and was not permitted (1 Kings viii. 18). "Thou didst well that it was in thine heart " (2 Cor. viii. 12). Only be honest and true with God in the matter. Surely the man can work and labour in God's cause who can find time and strength for visiting friends and evening parties; so also the man is able to give much to God's cause who can "spend" so largely on his family and domestic comforts, who can indulge himself in buying what is only a luxury, and who can lay up money in the bank less or more. At the same time poor believer, all "giving" is really "sowing;" and you are a gainer by giving your few shillings. "A handful of seed sown may yield great increase."

Man of God, let us ask the great Giver to teach us to give!

Anxious, unsatisfied soul, there are some whose secret unhappiness goes hand in hand with their want of a generous tone of mind. These persons are not able to discern the large-hearted grace of God; they judge God by themselves; their narrow hearts represent God as one who gives indeed, but gives sparingly, or conditionally, or in consideration of previous desert. Were your soul more generous in its tone, you might be better able to discern the generous freeness and fulness of God's giving; but a withholding, miserly soul is too likely to picture to itself a withholding God, who must be repaid for His gifts, and from whom blessings must be wrung by making out a claim. May the Holy Ghost give you a true discovery of our God who "giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not" (James i. 5.)

Unsaved man; perhaps you are liberal and benevo

lent. You give well, because your natural disposition is amiable and kind; but you do not, in your givings even to religious objects recognise Christ. If so, you will yet hear Him say; "You did it not to Me" (Matt. xxv. 45); you gave either to enjoy the luxury of complacent self-applause, or because you felt it pleasant to see others pleased. Brother, in such giving the Lord Jesus takes no pleasure. Benevolence, charity, liberality, generosity, wash no sins away and form no righteousness. Will ye listen to us when we invite your attention to the delight which the Lord Jesus has in your receiving from Him 1 Jesus would fain give Eternal Life—pardon, peace, purity, glory— to such undeserving ones as you, who make a righteousness out of your givings to men, and are withholding your conscience from the cleansing blood and your heart from His holy fellowship.

Perhaps, unsaved man, you may belong to another class —those who refuse to give a mite to religious objects, and who cry out about neglecting the poor at home. You say it is all waste to spend money on Gospel ordinances, on missions, and the like, though Jesus commended and rewarded the woman who spent ten pounds, in order to anoint His head (Matt. xxvi. 10-13). Well, here is the truth as to you; you give nothing to Christ because you know Him not. You set no value on perishing souls, because your own soul is unsaved. You have never seen your state of sin and death, and how near to the brink of perdition you stand at this hour. You have never understood the free love of God, nor seen His glory. But stay, unsaved man; what voice is that which reaches our ears 1 "What is a man profited, if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul 1" (Matt. xvi. 16.) Do you not know that the love of money is the love of sin 1 ay, that thy money shall perish with thee 1 and that thou shalt be so poor in eternity as not to be able to get one drop of water 1 One thing, however, let us not fail to tell you: a man enthralled to earth, to self, to sin, to Satan, may be delivered from them all, if he make haste. For the Holy Spirit sets free a soul by revealing Christ that died and rose again. This is the sight, this is the sun, that melts an earth-worm's and a miser's heart. The cross is still as powerful as when Paul said, that it was by it "The world was crucified to Him and He unto the world" (Gal. vi . 14). It is still as truly "the power of God" as when Cowper sung of it:

"It was the sight of Thy dear cross,

First weaned my soul from earthly things,
And taught me to esteem as dross
The mirth of fools and pomp of kings."