Jesus, speaking at the temple during the Feast of Booths, told His listeners: "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water'" (John 7:38). We who have trusted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior have been filled with Him, the Living Water, so that we, in turn, can share this eternal fountain with those around us.
From the spiritual to the physical and material, everything God has blessed us with is in order for us to bless others. And this includes our finances. However, rather than giving with the abandon of an overflowing river, many of us give like an old rusty faucet begrudgingly, slowly and only after a whole lot of coaxing!
In light of Jesus' analogy of a river, let's look at a couple more passages along the same line:
Isaiah 58:11: "And you will be like ... a spring of water whose waters do not fail."
Joel 3:18: "... all the brooks of Judah will flow with water, and a spring will go out from the house of the Lord...."
What did Jesus tell the woman at the well? "... whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again ever!" (John 4:14). Jesus Christ is the Living Water. As the Spotless Lamb, the Perfect Sacrifice, He continually pours Himself into His people, filling them to overflowing with His beautiful loving presence. You see, Jesus was all about pouring Himself OUT, not holding Himself IN.
Think about it. He didn't refer to a pond or a lake, did He? No, He referred to a river. A pond or lake hoards its waters, not allowing them to continue flowing. And, in some cases, these can also become stagnant lifeless and empty, serving no purpose for itself or for anything around it.
On the other hand, a river keeps on spilling forward, constantly flowing from its source. As it runs its course, it teems with life within and along all its pathway. Too, its pathway is specific it knows not only its source, but where it is going.
A river also branches off into smaller tributaries, streams which continue to spread the life-giving water from their source. Some streams are large, with plentiful water, while others are small and dry up during difficult weather.
Beginning to see a picture here? We who are children of God have been filled with His life-giving water. In turn, He, through us His children, is continually poured out. We never "dry up" from being emptied; we "dry up" when we fail to spend time with Him in prayer, study His Word, and fellowship with other believers. Yet each time we do these things, we're refilled from the Everlasting Source.
Every blessing we claim as our own is because we've been filled with God's Spirit, and our money is certainly one of His blessings. Like all our Heavenly Father so generously gives us, our money is to be used not only to supply or own needs and wants, but it is to spill over, ministering God's love to all those around us. Among the ways we can use money to express the overflow of God's Spirit within our own lives:
1) Tithe. "Bring the whole tithe into the [local church]..., and test Me now in this,' says the LORD of hosts, 'if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows'" (Malachi 3:10). Dedicating a tenth of your income to the Lord is simply obeying His Word, but it's also enabling the local church to be the hands of Jesus locally and even internationally. It's also opening the "windows of heaven," positioning yourself in obedience to be blessed by the Father.
Failing to tithe also has its consequences. While most of us are abundantly familiar with Malachi 3:10, the verse that follows may not be so familiar: "'Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes,' says the LORD of hosts." It's impossible to "come out ahead" when we withhold that which the Lord commands us to return to Him.
2) Give above and beyond the tithe. Until your giving exceeds 10 percent of your income, you've brought Him no offering. The Apostle Paul spoke these words concerning the Macedonian church's offering he was taking to the saints in Jerusalem: "... we carry the offering, which we administer in order to honor the Lord himself and to show our eagerness to help" (2 Corinthians 8:19). Paul understood that this offering wasn't to honor any person it was to bring glory to God.
3) Give cheerfully. Offerings are extended from the excess of our joy, that which takes us beyond mere obedience; they are a natural overflow of the Jesus who fills all believers. We also give understanding that God will give back to us in proportion to our own generosity: "Remember this: the person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. Each person should do as he has decided in his heart not out of regret or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7-8).
4) Prioritize giving over receiving. No, there's nothing natural about this, and it will take willfully changing your mindset. Human nature prefers receiving to giving; it is this same humanness that opposes our Christlikeness. Luke reminded the believers of "the words of the Lord Jesus, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive'" (Acts 20:35). If we are to be like Jesus, we are to prefer giving to getting.
Certainly we're to care for our needs and those of our families. But we also are to care for our extended family our brothers and sisters in Christ and for the lost to whom the Great Commission sends us. We are to do this by committing our time, our money and our lives to the glory of the Savior. He, in turn, will supply us from His unending riches.
This article was originally published on October 15, 2003.
Judy Woodward Bates is a freelance writer, author, speaker and creator of Bargainomics, a Bible-based time and money management philosophy, and the author of The Gospel Truth about Money Management. Visit her website at www.bargainomics.com.