Subject is giving, but want to begin elsewhere and see if we can together travel a somewhat circuitous route to arrive at some valid conclusions concerning God's desire, plan, will, and way for our generous sharing of the blessings we have received.
So....begin here. What impresses you? What surprises you? What catches your attention? I was surprised this week, challenged, encouraged, wondering. In fact, contemplatively, I share three surprises.
This is a Bible study--2 Cor. 9:6-15. I encourage you to have your Bibles open as we study. Then in a reversal of sorts, I share the conclusion before we begin. Conclusion: There are several different kinds of giving based on the motivations for that giving.
I. Guilt--Have to giving, 2 Cor. 9:7. Paul encourages cheerful giving, hilarious. Such is the opposite of forced to giving, not reluctantly nor of compulsion. Guilt is not the proper motivation for giving--but it's used a lot. Guilt about stinginess, the budget, the sick, the needy, all kinds of things that may enter into have to giving.
And it often works: guilt can be effective in bringing in a lot of money. But, unfortunately, it's unbiblical. No joy, doesn't help us away from materialism but may actually entrench us deeper in our love for things. Opposite response to the Israelites when they were building the Tabernacle and had to be asked to quit giving.
II. Duty, responsibility--Ought to giving, 2 Cor. 8:7, excel in giving, as in faith, speech, etc. Certainly we have a responsibility concerning giving, is biblical truth. Congregational giving studies indicate that the 80/20 rules applies: 80% of the giving is done by 20% of the church.
Further, 30% of the members give 20%, and approximately 50% give nothing at all.
This motivation for giving works--giving money for ministry and needs, feels better than guilt, and we can also note that people learn responsibility, a healthy character trait. But despite this brief positive, this kind of giving limits the joy, and the amount, considerably. Asks about getting by. What is the minimum amount I ought to give? When can I say, I've done my part. Works oriented, I will give enough so I deserve whatever good I receive from God.
III. Benevolence--Get to giving, the appeal was for the poor. Appeal to my compassion, my heart, I get to give, but my motivation is the needs of others, 2 Cor. 8:13-15. Further we go, more dangerous the ground, for this is beginning to sound pretty right. Important to let church
know about financial concerns, isn't it? Good to give church opportunities for giving, isn't it? Missions contributions, benevolence, Honduras roof..... Yes! Knowing a need often kindles a desire to provide the resources. And we would want someone to share with us if we were the
person in need, so we can kick in the Golden Rule.
Giving to satisfy feels good. Brings a certain cheerfulness, escapes compulsion of guilt or duty. Gets rid of some reluctance. Touches our heart strings, encourages us to learn the discipline of sacrificial giving. Can raise larger sums of money, increase involvement, more people will give to needs. But if overemphasize, learn also that some people give only when they see a need. And what if the person can't see the need, or doesn't approve of the need? Some can ignore the request even if there is a need. World is filled with needs. Further, the church helps in ways that do not tug at heartstrings, is involved in humdrum, menial, obscure things. This appeals to our desire to choose where we serve.
IV. Gratitude--Want to giving. Paul says it is good for church to supply the needs of God's people, but doesn't stop at this motivation. Giving is a way of thanking and praising God for what he has done. This stirs the recipients to thank God also.
Tell you, that giving out of thanksgiving feels very good. This giving points our hearts to God and gives tangible ways of showing our gratitude. Models unselfishness, encourages others to consider God's actions in their lives.
Limited by our perception of gratitude. What if we are not thankful when we should be? If we are not aware of our blessings, tend not to be thankful. Some miss the joy of how God has blessed them because they are not paying attention.
V. Adoration, worship--Going to giving, decisive, determined, responsive. 2 Cor. 8:5, Macedonia Christians are examples to church in Corinth, unique quality to their giving, first gave themselves. Financial decisions grew out of relationship, first out of relationship to God. When
it's your nature to worship God, to give to God, giving because an act of worship, Rom. 12:1-2, even to giving self. When you see to be like God, you give.
Giving is a confession of the gospel, 2 Cor. 9:13, giving is an act of trust, 1 Tim. 6:17-19, giving is an offering to God, Phil 4:18. Only strengths accompany this highest form of giving. Worship is the highest possible motivator. Creates true commitment, please God, allows the kingdom of advance, feels good. Protects us from Satan, who cannot steal our joy when this is our motivation, nor stop our work.
In the month ahead, we hope to grow. We will find surprises--I hope we can feel the surprise. Important not to settle for anything less than God's best motivations for our giving. Will bless us, sustain us. As we grow upward in this motivational game plan, joy will source, efforts in the kingdom expand dramatically.
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