We like to avoid the Sunday morning stick-up at CCC. We don't employ any force, manipulation, or guilt in our giving. We won't beg, steal, or borrow to cover our expenses. We are trying to follow Jesus -- and he had a lot to say about money, including how we should not extort money from others. Giving is best when it comes from a willing heart, probably because giving and generosity look like the character of God.
Ellen Goodman once asked a really good question: "When did it become normal to dress in clothes you buy for work and drive through traffic in a car you're still paying for in order to get the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it?"
Jesus said, "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."
For the believer, giving is an important part of who we are. Here are five different types of giving to think about:
1] "I won't give." This is the person who refuses to give at all, and there are plenty of stories in the scriptures about those who withheld. Eventually, we'll realize the foolishness of keeping it all to ourselves. I am grateful for a giving church!
2] "I'll give if I get something in return." This is the person who tries to leverage their money for some sort of personal gain. There's just no room for this kind of selfish pursuit in the church. Enough said.
3] "I'll give if I have to." This person gives out of obligation. While there are plenty of scriptures that speak about our responsibility to give to God (Malachi 3:8 being just one of them), fear that God will get angry with you if you don't probably isn't the best reason to give. I'll explain further in a moment.
4] "I will give because it helps out." This person gives out of compassion. Compassionate giving is good giving and is encouraged by the scriptures. 1 John 3:17 says, "If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no compassion on him, how can the love of God be in that person?" My life has been impacted by this kind of compassionate giving!
5] "I will give because I am thankful to God." We've said repeatedly since September that all good things come from God. This person gives to God out of gratitude for what God has already given! This is why we call the "collection" on Sunday morning an "offering". What we give our money to is what has won our heart!
Giving is a mark of Christian maturity. We know where the blessings of life come from, and we want to return it to God and his work. Giving -- compassionately, thankfully, joyfully, obediently -- is a sign of spiritual fitness. We don't place a value on people based on what they give, but what I give to (and spend my money on) does indicate what I value.