Thursday, December 4, 2014

Church Simply: Giving Without Compulsion. Giving to Meet Needs.

Much of the giving that takes place within the church is done under compulsion.

Most of us have been told that it is required for us to give to the church to support its ministries, building projects, etc. We've heard that we must pay the tithe in order for God to open up the store house. We've been guilted into putting money into the offering plate in order to pay pastoral salaries. This is all hogwash.

God's intent is that his church give freely and without compulsion. The passage that best illustatres this is II Corinthians 9:6-7. Paul writes the following, "The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."

Giving is important. In fact, it should be a primary mark of the church. However, this giving is far different in motivation that the usual guilt-inducing speeches we've all so often heard. We New Covenant people are not under any sort of tithe. Rather, motivated by the Holy Spirit, we are to give generously as we have decided. Paul clearly writes "not reluctantly or under compulsion." We give as the Spirit prompts.

To what or whom should we give? In the New Testament we see believers give to meet people's basic needs. Acts 4:32-35 informs us:

Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.

That passage still amazes me every time I read it. What a challenge to us! And what an opportunity as well.

The above photo shows a person with open hands. This represents two things related to giving. Some are in a position to give and open their hands to do so. Others need help and open their hands to receive.

My encouragement to you is to give freely, generously, and joyfully. When you see a need meet it. This may occur either inside or outside the church body. Don't feel guilty if you go a while without giving. You may at other times find yourself giving so much that you cannot believe it. Additionally, avoid the pride of not accepting gifts from others. You may sometimes or many times need the help.

Give, give, and give. Just do so for the right reasons.

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