Obedience in giving
One of the greatest stories of obedience in giving is this story of Abraham. What makes this story great is because Isaac was a promise son from God that was tied to the greatness of Abraham in God’s Covenant.
The greatest failure in today’s generation is humanism vs godliness. We reason first before we obey. We want to have the assurance of the outcome before any commitment. For many years, Abraham did not have a son. God provided Isaac in Abrahams’s sunset years. God had every right to ask for Isaac back because he belonged to Him.
The test on Abraham was to deepen his capacity to obey God. God wanted to develop his character by pushing Abraham to the limit by asking him for the most valuable thing he had. Abraham was a rich man. He could afford sheep and cattle, but this would have been out of his riches. God was looking for a sacrifice! It is very clear that this was a test. When we are tested, we can either complain or we can choose to see how God is stretching us to develop our character.
From Beersheba to Mount Moriah is a distance of about 50-60 miles, a journey of three days. It was enough for Abraham to think and change his mind. This must have been a very difficult time for him. I am sure there were questions from the servants because this was not the first time, they had accompanied their master on a journey to go and make a sacrifice to God. They must have wondered loudly where the usual sacrificial lamb is.
Obeying God is often a struggle for us, it leaves us with a sense of if we surrender what we have, we may never get it back. Obedience does not come naturally, we must be trained and matured to understand that God is a giver, He will always give back in a big way. When hard economic times hit, giving is the first casualty. It is a natural reaction to self-preserve. But what does God require of us?
The benefits of giving:
A medical Doctor Mitchell Popovetsky from Rush University Medical Centre-Chicago says that anyone who has given Time, Money or other Resources knows that giving makes you feel good. He says that research has shed light on the science behind giving that it creates long-term Physical and Psychological benefits.
Popovetsky cites one study on charitable donation in which researchers performed functional MRI scans on donors’ brains. (These scans are used to detect neurological activity.) After people donated, the part of their brains that “lit up,” or became active, was the mesolimbic system.
“This is the part of the brain that controls feelings of reward and pleasure,” Popovetsky says. “It’s also activated by things like food, drugs and sex.”
“But that’s just the physiology of it,” he adds. There’s also a growing body of research that links different types of giving to greater quality of life:
- Greater self-esteem and satisfaction in life
- Lower risk of depression
- Better Physical health and
- Longer life.
Whereas I leave this to you for further research, I agree with him that:
Working toward a goal and feeling like you are making a contribution to society likely increases your sense of purpose in life, which … contributes to both psychological and physical health.
Serving and giving brings a great sense of satisfaction.
As Christians, we do not want to give for our benefit only but also because it is a command from God, and He has demonstrated it Himself by giving us His best.
God is not selfish; He releases the best to us.
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
This indeed demonstrates to us that God withholds nothing from us right from the beginning of creation.
16 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.
When we were lost in sin and our relationship with God was broken, He took His son Jesus Christ to embrace us into a new relationship of love and forgiveness. That’s our God! He is always giving away.
What do I give?
Isaac was the most precious gift Abraham had from God. He was a symbol of His heritage and generational continuity. But he was not going to miss obedience to God by withholding Isaac from God. This is difficult to understand! A child is the most precious thing to a parent, but God comes first. God has not today demanded from us such a high level of obedience yet even in the very basic we have not complied. He does not ask us what He is not ready to do. He gave His only Son, yet we cannot obey to give the least of our possessions.
“Open arms” is both being prepared to give and to receive. God is desiring that we keep open arms to receive from Him and to give away so that we can continue to enjoy this relationship with Him. When we give to God what He asks, He returns to us far more than we could imagine. This is a biblical relationship. Prov. 22:9 says “A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.”
There is a principle we must understand here. God was testing obedience from Abraham. After He established the attitude of His heart, He never took away Isaac, but He provided an alternative. The lamb God provided can be drawn parallel to Jesus Christ whom God offered as a sacrifice for the price we could have paid.
If today you release what God has asked you to, He will repay with more. God is not a robber but a provider and giver. He is not after what we have but after our obedience. Some of us withhold because of fear. Some of what we withhold we have in plenty. We do not prosper because we are rebellious in our nature. Do you give out of sacrifice or out of duty? What do you bring to the Lord whether in the church or when you are helping others?
The second call
The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son,, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring, all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
How does God respond to our obedience?
The Lord responded with joy to Abraham’s obedience reaffirming and expanding His earlier promises. “Because” (the reason) is that you have “done this thing” (Obeyed), and have not withheld your son, your only son.” Abraham has obeyed God as faithfully as any person could obey. He has withheld nothing from God—not even the precious son of his old age—the son through whom God had promised to give Abraham descendants—the son who would give rise to nations (12:2; 17:16).
- God blesses and multiplies our seed.
God had earlier made promises to Abraham in Gen12;14 and 17. But this promise surpasses all the others. First, He swears by Himself, secondly, He enumerates the blessings to Him and his generations in-enumerable numbers of the stars and the sand of the sea. Sometimes we only see what God can do now, but God pronounces blessings over us beyond us to our generations when we live in obedience. When you invest in the kingdom of God you are investing for your generations.
- Your seed shall possess the gates of your enemies.
God promises He will not only increase our seed, but it shall have power. It will not be devoured by your enemies. The seed of an obedient man shall withstand every attack of the enemy because it is a seed of blessing from God. He will watch over your job, He will watch over your business, He will watch over your children, He will watch over your marriage because you obeyed!
- In your seed will all the nations of all the earth be blessed:
God promised Abraham children and grandchildren who would, in turn, bless the whole earth. People’s lives will be changed as a result of knowing of your faith. God promised Abraham and his descendants. He makes the same promise to us today if we obey Him. Let us not just see blessings as those we shall see today and enjoy. When God blesses us His blessings overflow to others as well. When we invest in obedience we invest for generations.
When Abraham obeyed God, He did not know that Isaac was in no danger, but he trusted God. God tests us with the aim of us emerging victorious for His glory. The difference between TEST and TEMPTATION is that God tests us to PASS while Satan tempts us to FAIL. Abraham passed with flying colors because he obeyed God.
Heb 11: 17
By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to Him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.
What is it that God has asked you to release to Him and you continue to struggle to give away?
Is it a relationship?
Is it a gift towards His work?
Is it your tithes?
Is it a job or a business?