Cannot Love Without Giving
Some things are simply true. They are true whether we want them to be or not. They are true whether we understand them or not. They are simply true.
I may wish with all my being and believe with all my heart that I can defy gravity and fly like Superman. But if I jump off a building I'm going to land and land hard. Gravity is true.
One truth that is true is captured in a quote from Robert Louis Stevenson. "You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving." It is the nature of love to give to the beloved. This is woven into the fabric of the universe. "For God so loved the world that he GAVE his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16 NIV)
God is a giving God because "God is love." (1 John 4:8 NIV) God is the Embodiment of love. God is the Source of love. And out of God's great love for His lost creation, He GAVE His Son as a sacrifice for the sin of the world. You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving.
Jesus told His followers that one commandment is greater than and fulfills all the others. “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:39-41 NIV)
Love God with everything. Love others. If we consistently keep these two commandments we will naturally keep all the others. If we love God with everything we will worship only Him and refuse to take His name in vain, etc. If we love others as deeply as we love ourselves we will not steal from them or lie to them or murder them, etc.. You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving.
There is a commandment from God that many American Christians find difficult to keep. That commandment is tithing. Tithing is the practice of setting aside the first ten percent of our income and giving it to our church to materially participate in its various ministries. By our giving the word of God is proclaimed in worship. By our giving the staff of our church plan and carry out ministry to children and youth and seasoned citizens. By our giving small groups and Bible studies and mentoring ministries and food distributions take place.
All these are great reasons to give generously to the church where we worship and belong. But they are not the fundamental reason. Shirley and I tithe because we love God for what He has already given us. We could give away everything we have and not repay God for the redemption He has given through His Son, Jesus Christ. Giving is the consequence of our love for the God who has saved us. You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving.
God is a giving God, and followers of Jesus are giving people. We can't help ourselves. It is the nature of the love of God, poured out into our lives by the Spirit of God as the risen Christ lives in our hearts. Giving is an act of love and an act of worship.
Redeemed people don't grouse about God's command to tithe and to give beyond the tithe in generosity. Because redeemed people reflect the heart of the God who has redeemed us. Redeemed people love. And Robert Louis Stevenson is right. You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving.