Derek Prince - Giving Starts With Giving Yourself
The second principle is that we do not gain God's favor by giving. God doesn't want us to give first of all of our material means. He wants us to give ourselves to Him. Again, the Corinthians were an example. Or rather an example is brought out in 2 Corinthians 8. Paul is writing here about the Macedonian Christians. And he says in verse 5 that they were very generous, they gave freely. But he goes on: This they did not as we had hoped, but first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.
So the first thing, the only thing you can offer to God first is what? Yourself, that's right. Don't come and try to buy God's favor, because you can't do it. I'm always reminded of a story that I heard from an American preacher years back. And I need not explain that I can't imitate an American accent. It's about an American Indian in the state of Oklahoma who went to a gospel service in a tent. And as he listened to the preaching, he heard things he was not familiar with. But his heart was strangely touched.
So, when the appeal was made at the end he thought, I better give something. So he came up with his blanket, laid it on the altar and said: Indian bring blanket. He walked back to his place but didn't really feel any peace. So he felt, I better give something more valuable than that. He came up with his rifle, laid it on the altar and said: Indian bring rifle. He went back to his place but still there was no peace. He thought, The most valuable thing I have is my horse. So he went out to the parking lot, untethered his horse, led his horse up to the front of the church and said: Indian bring horse. But still no peace.
Finally, without anything, he walked up to the altar and said: Indian bring Indian. And then he found peace. So, don't bring your blanket, your rifle, or your horse, until you've brought yourself! It's ourselves that we begin with. In Romans 12:1-2 Paul tells us very clearly this is what God expects of us. Romans 12. He says: I beseech you therefore, brethren. And he's been dealing with all the mercies of God in 11 chapters of Romans. And at the end of the 11th chapter we come to this 'therefore'. And I told you what you need to know about a 'therefore', you need to know what it's there for. Because of all God's mercies. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. That's Indian bring Indian. Bring yourself, your whole being. Lay it on the altar of God's service. That's the only reasonable response to the mercies of God.
And then he goes on to say: Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. You see, the old, unrenewed mind cannot discover the will of God. But God will not renew our minds until we present our bodies. There are lots of Christians who are born again and saved, but they've never really surrendered themselves unreservedly to God. Their minds have never been renewed and with the old, unrenewed mind, they cannot discover the will of God. It's only when you've made a total surrender of yourself to God that He will begin to open up His will to you. And you'll discover three things about the will of God successively. It's good, it's acceptable and it's perfect. When you begin, you discover God only wants good for you.
The further you go, the more you discover it's acceptable, it's the kind of thing that I really want and need. And as you advance, you'll discover it's perfect. It covers every area of your life. There is no area of your life small or great, that is not covered by the will of God. But you cannot discover it until you've presented yourself. And, your giving to God is of no avail in the material realm until you first have given yourself.