Giving as worship” is much broader than realized at first glance.
When we read that phrase, we automatically think of giving our money as an act of worship. However, effective stewardship of our lives goes much deeper than mere money. Wesley, Murphy, and Stanley give us a broader understanding.
Thirty years after preaching his sermon entitled, “The Use of Money,” John Wesley spoke of his concern that Methodists, to some degree, were being faithful in observing the first two points of his sermon, while largely ignoring the third. He said, “Of the three rules which are laid down . . . you may find many that observe the first rule, namely, ‘Gain all you can.’ You may find a few that observe the second, ‘Save all you can.’ But, how many have you found that observe the third rule, ‘Give all you can’? Have you reason to believe that 500 of these are to be found among 50,000 Methodists? And yet nothing can be more plain than that all who observe the first rules without the third will be twofold more the children of hell than ever they were before.”
Wesley famously gave most of his money away while he was alive and urged other Methodists to do the same. He was chagrined to realize that most Methodists were not so generous with their money.
He must have known that saving to hoard will waste away a person’s soul, but saving in order to give will free the soul. This is not just true of money. Generosity in every area brings life.
Nazarene evangelist Mark Murphy has written many songs. One of them is about a little boy who was saddened that he didn’t have any money for the offering plate. The next time he went to church he had a plan. When it came to him, he put the offering plate on the floor and then stood in it. The boy sings that he will give all of himself to God.
E. Stanley Jones said, “You will never live until you go to your own funeral, and then you will come back singing.” His point is that true joy comes with the total surrender of everything we have and everything we are.
There is one more voice we must mention as we reflect on the theme of “Giving as Worship.” The Apostle Paul said, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1).
We naturally recoil from surrender, not realizing that the deeper the surrender, the greater the joy. When we finally “give all we can,” as John Wesley reminded, the music is glorious.