– Alistair Begg
Devotional: Holding Our Possessions With An Open Hand
We should all learn to hold our earthly possessions with a flat palm and not a clenched fist because an open hand allows us to give to others but to also receive from God.
Holding What You Can’t Keep
A clenched fist shows God that you don’t want to give anything away and want to hold on tight to your earthly possessions, but this leaves little room for God to give back into your hands. If we have clenched fists, then God cannot put anything into them. I have never seen someone put something in the offering plate who has their fist clenched around the offering. They must always open their hand and pour out what is in their hand in order for God to give back to them. Paul wrote that “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Cor 9:6). It was written that even God “has distributed freely, he has given to the poor” (1 Cor 9:9a).
A Harvest of Righteousness
A man recently told me how blessed he was to receive two pay raises in the last few months, and he asked me how he should thank God for this blessing. I told him to sow it back into the kingdom because although he can’t take it with him, he can send it ahead. I pointed him to the 1st chapter of Corinthians 9:10-11, which says, “He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.” We should all understand that God gave the greatest gift of all (John 3:16), and so we should give “thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift” (1 Cor 9:15)!
How Much to Give?
I cannot tell you how much you should give. Some can give more because they have more, and some can give less because they have less, but even the widow who had only two copper coins gave all she had, but you must know that God blessed her for that, if not in her earthly life, surely in the life that was to come in the kingdom (Luke 21:1-4). All I can tell you is that every woman and every man should give “according as he (or she) purposes in his heart, [so let him or her give]; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7). Paul quoted Jesus as saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35c). God declares that if you “honor the LORD with your substance, and with the firstfruits of all your increase: then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine” (Prov 3:9). The only place in the entire Bible that allows us to test God comes in Malachi 3:10-11: “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts.”
God wants us to give cheerfully and not out of a legal obligation or from a guilty conscience. He wants us to be generous with what we have so He can be generous to us in return. Besides, He gave the greatest gift that anyone could ever give: His own Son’s life.