13 Mar What hinders us from Excelling in the Grace of Giving ?
Paul writes in his second letter to the church at Corinth (8:7) “But since you excel in everything in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving”. Surprisingly, he cites an example of exemplary giving by churches in Macedonia who were extremely poor, yet generous, seems like an impossible combination in modern times.
We are living in times, thankfully, where we get to see abundance and prosperity in many homes which was not so until three decades ago. India is an emerging economy which has resulted in new jobs creation and better opportunities, leading to higher salaries and a decent standard of living. But, has that translated into increased giving among Christians? Probably not! If that were so there would not be churches, ministries and Christian organizations lacking in funds.
You would agree with me that our churches have most members working for corporations where on an average salaries are higher than what Christian organizations pay and sadly at times can’t even pay their full salaries? Let us remember the fact that most Christian organizations or full-time workers do not have a source of revenue other than contributions received from members for this high calling they have chosen. Many like me, owe our very eternal life to these ministries through which we have come to believe in Jesus. If members don’t contribute generously, these ministries are bound to suffer due to lack of funds. By giving a little more will the members or their families be hurt or go through terrible inconveniences themselves? Never!
Then why is it that most Christians do not grow or excel in this grace of giving? Well, I think there are some fundamental reasons which if examined, might open our eyes to introspect and take action.
Treasure Principle: In Matthew 6:19-21, the Lord tells His disciples, “Do not store for yourselves treasures on earth. . . for where your treasure is, your heart will be also.” For many Christians earthly wealth in all forms has become a treasure. No one parts with treasures. Treasures are held very dear to the heart. For example if you have a very precious diamond you possess, how would you treat it? You will hold close to heart and never part with it. As long as worldly wealth is treasure, Christians will find it hard to give generously other than the psychological 10% that we are compelled to give because there are Bible verses that exhort us. The Lord tells “store up for yourselves treasures in heaven” and that is a direct result of our generous giving. As you hold heavenly treasure close to your heart, you will release earthly treasure and you will excel in the grace of giving.
Battle between Two Kingdoms: In Matthew 6:25-33, the Lord continues His discourse on money and tells His disciples not to worry about things of the earthly kingdom but seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and these things which they are worried about will be given to then as needed. During Jesus’ time, the worry was what to eat, drink and wear? Today the worry is bigger houses, promotions, better paying jobs, children’s education, other financial goals like, retirement and passing on inheritance. During Jesus’ time, worries were about sustaining life itself, our worry today is to maintain a lifestyle. Jesus said, pagans run after these things in this kingdom. Whatever is our worry, money and attention get directed to that. Bigger the list of worry, lesser is our giving. The more we are worried about this kingdom, earthly kingdom appears big and God’s kingdom appears small. Our wealth is directed in the kingdom that appears bigger. How can we then give generously? As you start seeking His kingdom and His righteousness, His kingdom will seem big, your worries will drop and your surplus money will be directed towards needs in the ministry.
Hope in the Hopeful vs Uncertain: In 1 Timothy 6:17, Paul writes, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” Many Christians have subconsciously put their hope in wealth not realizing its uncertain nature. When you hope in something for security you dream about that, you cling to that and never give away. For example, if you are in the middle of the sea and just have one small boat which can take you to the shore, will you give it up? No, that’s your only hope. Today wealth is the hope for the whole world. If Christians also have that hope, they will never give up their hope on wealth and their giving will be slow and low but the Bible says, it is an uncertain hope. The only true hope in this world is God and only that realization will make you a generous giver of your wealth because wealth no longer provides you security and you don’t mind letting it go and cling to God the true hope.
Which out of these three are your problem? Is wealth your treasure? Are you worried about things in the earthly kingdom? Is your hope in wealth? If your answer is Yes for any one of these, you can never excel in the grace of giving because you will stress yourself and never have the joy if you give generously but if you address these issues and your answer becomes No to all three questions, generosity will be a way of life and you will someday reach the goal of becoming excellent in the grace of giving.
Written by Nobert
The author lives in Hyderabad with his wife and two daughters, working for a US based Mutual Fund, involved with EU/ EGF for the last 20 years.