This is part three of three of an article I am posting by Dr. Robertson McQuilkin. He is the President Emeritus of Columbia International University in South Carolina and he passed away back in 2016. He was a godly man who loved Jesus and lived radically for Him. He described 6 different stages of spiritual maturity and relates it to the way that we give. I’ve posted 2 stages at a time, progressing in maturity levels. Today we’ll look at the final two stages. I hope you enjoy this insight from a spiritual giant in the faith. As you read, honestly ask yourself, “When Jesus looks at my giving and spiritual maturity, does He see me in this stage?” Let’s all pray together that we can grow in our giving and in our maturity!
Measuring Maturity (Giving) Part 3
By Robertson McQuilkin
Higher: Love Giving
Jesus did something few pastors would dare do. During the offering he followed the ushers down the aisle, so to speak, and examined each contribution put in the plate!
Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasure. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on!” (Lk. 21:1-4)
As God observes our giving today, how does he measure love, calibrate its intensity, or sound its depth? Jesus answers: love is measured by the sacrifice it makes.
Bob, a Bible College student, asked for help with a difficult passage found in Luke 18. I guessed, “Youʼve got problems with the story of the wealthy young aristocrat, right?”
“Yes,” he responded. “Why did Jesus tell him to sell what he had and give it away?”
“Well,” I said, “the way to life for that young man was blocked by things, his sin of covetousness. For the woman at the well it was men, not money. Self-righteous Nicodemus needed to hear about a second birth. Jesus identified the key issue, the roadblock, for each.”
“I see,” said my young friend. “If possessions were his sticking point, would you say there are those today with a similar problem?”
I wondered where Bobʼs questioning was headed. “Yes,” I chuckled a little nervously, “Just about everyone, I suppose.”
“Why then,” he asked, “have I never heard a sermon on the subject?” “That is a very good question, Bob, because Christ gave exactly the same teaching to anyone who wanted to be his disciple:
“Sell what you have and give alms, provide for yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys.” (Lk. 12:33)
Does anyone actually do this? Some years ago I wanted to personally thank two of our graduates for their many generous gifts. When we had special needs, a gift of one or two thousand dollars would come from this couple. I wondered how they could do this, being school teachers in a poor district of Appalachia. One day I called to see if a visit would be convenient. They were delighted—said they had something to tell me. Meeting me at the highway, they escorted me on foot through the muddy ruts that snaked around the hillside. There, nestled in the little mountain cove was their home, a small log cabin. Thatʼs the reason they could give so generously! Or so I thought.
The husband was so excited. “Robertson, isnʼt the Lord good?” he exclaimed.
“Yes, He is,” I replied. “And how has He been good to you?”
“You wonʼt believe how good He has been. This week has been fantastic!”
“Tell me about it,” I said.
“North of Atlanta, we have had a farm in the family for many years. It has begun to be a headache for us. The whole city has grown up all around our farm.”
I thought, “I wouldnʼt mind that kind of problem!”
Continuing, he said they had just signed the property over to Wycliffe Bible Translators. “Isnʼt that fantastic!”
“Yes!” I responded enthusiastically.
He continued, “Thatʼs not all. We had another small acreage out in the clay country that was not worth much and we couldnʼt sell it. Tried for years. But at last—this week—we were able to sell it to a government agent who will buy it over 10 years and give us $1,500 a year. So weʼve decided to take early retirement, go to the mission field, take care of MKʼs and live on what we get from the sale of this property! What do you think about that?”
“I think youʼre crazy. What are you going to do when that money runs out?” I asked.
“Oh,” he answered, “Weʼll be in heaven by then!”
There may be some question about their sanity, but there can be no question about whom they love and how much they love Him. Love graduates a person from the secondary level of honest managership to the higher level of sacrificial love giving.
While watching a television interview with Mother Theresa, I, along with the young woman interviewing her, swelled with pride as Mother Theresa told us how wonderful Americans are. She said, “I donʼt know if there has ever been a nation that has been so generous. You are such a generous people.” Mother Theresa continued, “Of course, you give out of your ʻmuchness.ʼ” She chuckled, “ʻMuchnessʼ is a word, isnʼt it?” She paused, then added, “You donʼt really give until it hurts.”
The young womanʼs eyes grew large, astonished. “Must it hurt?”
The angel of Calcutta responded, “Love, to be genuine, must hurt.”
Love is proved by the sacrifice it makes.
Graduate: Faith Giving
Paul speaks of the gift of faith (Rom. 12:3-8). There are those George Muellers of the world who trust God for miracle provision—finances far above that which could be provided even by sacrificial giving. I call this the graduate level of giving, because this gift of faith is not given to all equally.
But in another sense, faith is essential for any level of giving. “Without faith it is impossible to please him.” The Pharisees were not the only ones who had problems with Jesusʼ radical teaching about managership and sacrificial giving. The disciples did, too. Jesusʼ teaching cut across the grain of everything they believed about money and things.
So he said: “If, then, God so clothes the grass which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Lk. 12:28)
Faith must validate every level of giving. An impoverished widow living on Social Security must have faith to give 10 percent. Furthermore, when she does so, it is certainly sacrificial love. But if I am unwilling to move up from my present level of giving, is it not because I donʼt trust God to meet my needs—a lack of faith? Or love? The person who trusts and loves God will be willing to move from kindergarten impulse giving to elementary, lawful tithing; if already a faithful tither, to go on to honest managership; if an honest manager, to graduate to a sacrificial way of life. My relationship to my possessions is, according to Jesus Christ, a clear indication of my faith and love, my level of spiritual maturity.
God Himself models this standard. He created me, so he is owner. I stole his property—took possession of myself. But in love, at terrible cost, he purchased me just as if he had no prior claim on me, making me twice his. If I will only respond with love in obedient giving, He guarantees my livelihood (Lk. 12:31); rewards me lavishly in this life as if I were giving what is my own property; and in heaven He rewards me all over again! (Lk. 18:28-30) That is Godʼs level of giving—love giving. What is mine?