On the Christian radio station the other day, I heard one of the DJ’s saying, “You can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving.” That is so true.
There are many reasons why people give of their time, energy, and money. Some people do give out of love. They are moved by a need or an inner prompting to genuinely help others. But some give out of compulsion. Others give out of guilt. And others give out of pride.
But loving has, at its very core, the desire to give. When we love someone we want to give something to them; usually something that represents a part of our lives. If we claim to love someone, but don’t feel the desire to give – then something is wrong. Something has disrupted the natural flow of love. One might even question the presence of love if there is no desire to give. Love, without the desire of giving, is either faulty or a figment of one’s imagination.
The Apostle John would take it one step further. True love is evident in, not just the desire to give, but the action of giving. He writes in 1 John 3:18:
“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”
This is seen in God’s love for us. God loves us, not in speech or thought or intentions, but in action. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” “But God demonstrates His love in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for the ungodly.” “And this is love: not that we loved God, but that God loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice.” The evidence of love is in the action of giving.
When God’s active love touches our hearts, we have a desire to respond in kind. Just as He gave to show His love for us, we want to give to God to show our love for Him. This response of “giving” out of love for God is what the Bible calls “worship.” Worship is a multi-faceted word that describes every loving response we give to God. Unfortunately, our culture (and the devil – in my opinion) has reduced the word “worship” to mean singing songs and a church service. But worship is what we give to God in love. I see three ways we can practically and actively give our worship/love to God:
1. We give God our obedience. Jesus said it plainly, “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love” (John 15:10). Samuel told Saul, “To obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22). God doesn’t want our lip-service, He wants our “life-service.” When we offer God our bodies as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1) it is a worship of obedience; we are saying to God, “My life is at your disposal. I will do whatever You want me to do.”
2. We give God our material wealth. Jesus also said, “Your treasure is where your heart is … You cannot serve both God and money” (Matt 6:21, 24). God doesn’t need our money, but God knows that money can have our heart. The offering of part of our material wealth (the tithe) is not about helping out the church (though it does), but to declare who is really God of our heart. In that act of giving, we also proclaim who our Provider is and whom we put all of our trust.
3. We give God our destiny. We all have hopes and dreams for the future. But when Christ becomes Lord of our lives, we entrust our destiny to the One who holds the future. We forfeit our ways – our will – by surrendering to the will of God. That’s why Romans 12:2 is so important to the process of worship. Our surrender of our lives to God in Romans 12:1 leads to transformation and renewal of mind in Romans 12:2. This enables us to live our true destiny: to know and do the will of God. Just as the love-vow of a marriage is (supposed to be) the surrender of each other’s destiny to the other (till death do us part), the love-vow of worship is the on-going surrender of our destiny to loving and capable hands of Christ.
We can give without loving, but we cannot love without giving. How are you giving out of your love for God?