Free To Give
“Each one should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7
While I was attending seminary my wife and I took a Sunday to worship at a Holiness Church. We figured we were going to worship in Lutheran churches for the rest of our lives when I finally graduated, so why not try something really different?
This church was located in a very poor part of the city. For a seminary couple my wife and I were rich, thanks to my wife’s fulltime work at a major accounting firm. When the offering baskets came around on long poles I noticed that everyone was putting in change. I felt so sorry for these poor people so I put some folding money in the basket and felt pretty darned magnanimous. Until, that is, about a half hour later when they passed the basket again for people’s “gifts and offerings”. This time those saints of God were dropping all sorts of bills into the basket. I sheepishly grabbed my wallet and emptied whatever I had left into the plate.
But they weren’t done yet. About an hour later it was time for people to bring forward their tithes. I couldn’t believe my eyes. People were stuffing all sorts of money into envelopes and walking them up to the front of the church where they dropped them into a big basket and received a blessing from the pastor. And what blew me away was the joy I saw on people’s faces as they brought those tithes forward. Some of them literally danced up to the altar and danced back to their pews. I just sat and begged God to forgive my arrogance, my stinginess, and my weak faith.
I learned an important lesson that day about genuine giving. I’d given an offering that day…two, as a matter of fact. But my giving was far from genuine. And that’s what I want to share with you in the next few devotions…what the Bible has to say about genuine giving. People give for lots of different reasons, but not all giving accomplishes what God wants to accomplish in our lives. We don’t give for God’s sake; we give because we need to…we give because God wants to do something in our lives through our giving. Through the gift of God’s grace we are free to give.
Bringing It Home
1. What’s your honest attitude about giving? When you give do you count it as gain or loss?
2. Does your heart tend toward shame or pride when it comes to your giving? Pray about it. Remember that growth in giving requires growth in faith.
Lord Jesus, every good thing comes from your hand. Grant me the grace to know that truth in the depths of my soul, and allow it to well up into a life of generosity. Cleanse my heart from any attitude or perspective that would keep me from knowing the freedom that comes from generous and genuine giving. Amen.
Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Burnsville, MN