by J. Randal Matheny, editor
In Scripture the most common subject of the verb “to give” is God. The greatest gift God ever gave was his only Son Jesus Christ. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that whoever believes in him may not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
God gives rest (Joshua 22:4; 2 Chronicles 20:30), another heart (1 Samuel 10:9), one heart to obey his command (2 Chronicles 30:12), a heart that knows him (Jeremiah 24:7), wisdom and understand (1 Kings 4:29; Daniel 1:17; Ephesians 1:17), sons and daughters (1 Chronicles 25:5), a kingdom (2 Chronicles 13:5; 1 Kings 11:31; Daniel 5:18), a king to the people (Acts 13:21), an inheritance (Deuteronomy 20:16; Acts 20:32; Galatians 3:18), a “stake” (NRSV) or “firm place” (NIV) in his sanctuary (Ezra 9:8), “reviving” (NASB) or “new life” (NIV, NRSV) for restoration (v. 9), a remnant (v. 13), favor (Psalm 84:11), peace (Jeremiah 14:13), glory (1 Peter 1:21), a revelation (Revelation 1:1) mercy or acceptance by others (Genesis 43:14), repentance and forgiveness of sins (Acts 5:31; 2 Timothy 2:25) and eternal life (1 John 5:11).
God gives the spirit to man (Ecclesiasted 12:7) and the power to become his sons to those who believe in Jesus’ name (John 1:12).
God also gives someone up to desolation (2 Chronicles 30:7), to the king of Babylon (Ezra 5:12; Daniel 1:2). He gave Jerusalem to punishment (Ezekiel 15:6). He was willing to give a large part of Africa — Egypt, Ethiopia and Seba — to redeem Israel (Isaiah 43:3).
That which is given to another must be received. Hence, although God gave Israel Canaan (Genesis 17:8; 27:7; Leviticus 25:38; Deuteronomy 1:25; Joshua 1:15; Ezekiel 36:28), the land had to be possessed by driving out the inhabitants.
A blessing upon others includes a prayer that God would give something to the blessed (Genesis 27:28; 28:3-4). Asking God to give is a part of prayer (Genesis 15:2), as are vows to give back (Genesis 28:20-22). To Solomon God asked him to name what should be given him (1 Kings 3:5).
Metaphors use the idea of giving, such as God giving an ear (listens) to a supplicant (Psalm 77:1).
Receiving God’s good gifts implies stewardship and not using them for self or to render up to other gods (Ezekiel 16:16-19). The recipient of a gift may easily forget who gave it, to show proper gratitude (Deuteronomy 6:10-12).
God gives his Holy Spirit to those who believe and obey (Acts 5:32; 11:17; cf. 2:38; Romans 5:5; 2 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:8). He gives the Spirit “so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God” (1 Corinthians 2:12).
He gives the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6, Gr., auxano). He gives wisdom, knowledge and joy “to the one who pleases him” (Ecclesiastes 2:26). He gives freely without chiding (James 1:5).
A keynote of the first chapter of James is giving: God gives wisdom (v. 5), but only to the one who asks in faith (v. 6-8). The perservering one will receive the Lord’s promise of the crown of life (v. 12). God is the perfect giver, and constant; his best gift was giving us life by the word of truth (James 1:17-18).
The Son follows the example of the Father. He gave himself for our sins (Galatians 1:14), because he loves us (Galatians 2:20), as an offering and sacrifice to God (Ephesians 5:2). He gives eternal life (John 6:27; Revelation 2:7), which consists of an understanding to know him (1 John 5:20).
Martha’s confidence that God would give to his Son whatever he asked is also ours (John 11:22). We know this even better, since God gave him a name above all others (Philippians 2:9) and has given all things into his hands (John 13:3).
Among God’s people, the giver must not grieve at the “loss” of his gift (Deuteronomy 15:10). The Lord’s blessings are to be given to others (Deuteronomy 15:14).
Besides the gift of salvation, man’s greatest gift is the commission of preaching the grace of God (Ephesians 3:2, 7; Colossians 1:25). He “has given us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). God gives his grace (1 Corinthians 1:4), not only for personal consumption, but for public proclamation which builds the house of God (1 Corinthians 3:10; cf. Romans 12:3; 15:15).
To give glory to God means to recognize his majesty and sovereignty. It is a condition to survival (Jeremiah 13:16) and includes listening to his word (v. 17). It means giving thanks for blessings received (Luke 17:18). It at times means confessing sin or the truth (John 9:24). Associated with giving glory to God is fearing him (Revelation 14:7) and repentance (Revelation 16:9).
Whatever one’s losses incurred as a price for obeying God, his people must know that “the Lord is able to give you much more than this” (2 Chronicles 25:9). He gives us power, love and a sound mind, not a timid attitude (2 Timothy 1:7). Through grace he gave us eternal comfort and good hope, which serve as a basis for asking for present comfort and strength in every good work and word (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17).
At Jesus’ invitation, we ask, “Give me this water” (John 4:7-15).
Man must give what is due each one (Mark 12:14-17). Some things are impossible to give to God, such as a ransom for one’s brother (Psalm 49:7). But we must give account of ourselves to God (Romans 14:12).
Paul recalls a quote by Jesus recorded nowhere else in Scripture: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
As Francis Havergal wrote,
I gave My life for thee,
My precious blood I shed,
That thou might ransomed be,
And raised up from the dead.
I gave, I gave My life for thee,
What hast thou given for Me?
I gave, I gave My life for thee,
What hast thou given for Me?

The concept of giving is one of the most used in Scripture — and most applied to God.

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