There was an amazing attitude among God’s people that said, “My things are not my own, but they are God’s. My life and my things should be readily available for use through the body of Christ.” While God’s people in the church continued to possess personal property, they did not see it as their own but saw it as God’s possession. This was the obvious generosity brought by the Holy Spirit that helped power the early church.
In the mid to late 20th century missionary Eunice Pike spent 40 years working with the Mazatec Indians in Southwestern Mexico. During that time she discovered some interesting things about “these beautiful people”. For instance, the people seldom wish someone well. Not only that, they are hesitant to teach one another or to share the gospel with each other. If asked, “Who taught you to bake bread?” the village baker answers, “I just know,” meaning he has acquired the knowledge without anyone’s help.
Eunice explained that this odd behavior stems from the Indian’s concept of “limited good.” They believe there is only so much good, so much knowledge, so much love to go around. To teach another means you might drain yourself of knowledge. To wish someone well—“Have a good day”—means you have just given away some of your own happiness, which cannot be reacquired.
Too often, if not careful, God’s people will operate this way. The idea that, if I give generously then I will not have enough, often stunts generosity in the church. Rather, when God’s people realize that it is all God’s anyway, the giving simply becomes a matter of sharing God’s resources with God’s people. Furthermore, Scripture seems to indicate that generous giving actually brings more back to the givers (see Jesus’ words in Luke 6:38).
We must remember that, as members of the body, we do not give in order to get back. We must never say, “I gave a lot in the offering and now expect certain things done my way”. We are on the wrong track if we say, “I gave and sacrificed toward that, now what am I going to receive back in return?” We are not true givers if we say, “I gave that to the church body now I should get some use from it.”
The heart of giving is generosity and the heart of Christ. God gave (John 3:16) when He needed nothing and, because He is fully perfected, could receive nothing of benefit. God gave to us, through His Son Jesus Christ, simply to bless us. This is the heart of generous giving that is a signature of the Holy Spirit on the church.