Giving from an overflow v. sharing …

You hear a great deal of talk about “overflow” from many pulpits today. The fact is, if the church — or this world — relied on good, godly things to be done only from an “overflow” of abundance, little would ever be accomplished, and few people would be helped.

So many of the the great works done in the world are not from people writing checks and making donations based on the extra — the “overflow” — they have, but a great deal of the things making a difference in this world happen from people (especially Christian people) giving from what they have, period.

It’s not extra. Their giving comes from what they have.

Here’s the false concept behind many of those preachers who are always talking about “overflow”: If we only give out of our overflow, we remove faith. If we only give out of our overflow, there’s no need to include God. But it’s a very different situation when you give from what you have; when you take from what is earmarked for you and yours, and give from that, you must trust God to meet your needs as you give from your base resources.

For example, this evening I had a kind, elderly, and homeless Navy veteran ask me for help getting him a sandwich and a cup of coffee on a rainy evening. I don’t have the means to feed both of us, but I’ve already eaten today. So I was happy to help this gentlemen. Doing so requires that I trust God for my own provision, because I just shared what is needed for me with someone else.

The reason why so many people don’t give, or give so little, is because they base their giving on being able to do so from an overflow. They wouldn’t begin to consider giving from a part of their base resources, and that’s because they don’t trust God to provide for what they’ve given away.

Where is the faith in that? How is that trusting God to meet your need when He provides opportunities to help others? You don’t see in scripture Jesus speaking highly of the financially comfortable giving within their “overflow,” which means giving in such a way as to make sure they stay comfortable. What He praises are those who trust God in their giving, even if it means giving generously from sparse resources.

In fact, we see a very different mindset about “giving” in the early church. Theirs wasn’t an attitude of, “Let me see what I’ve got, measure my resources, see what the leftover is after expenses, investments, entertainment, and indulgences, and then give from that ‘overflow’.” Their attitude was one of sharing what they had. This “sharing” mentality meant that there weren’t any needs left among them …

“All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all. There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need,” Acts 4:32-35.

Imagine what might happen in the church today if we focused on sharing the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit, and had an attitude of sharing what we had because we believed it wasn’t just our own. Do you think we, like the early church, might also experience “… God’s great blessing” upon us all?

Is there room for God in your giving? Or do you give only from extra, to insure that you, personally, aren’t touched with any possibility of lack? How could your faith potentially be radically transformed by trusting God in your giving by beginning to think in terms of sharing?