Friday, March 17, 2006

The Attitude of Giving (and Possessions)

There are at least four essential principles for our attitude of giving (and of possessions). These principles should be guiding our self-analysis when we give.

First, Christian giving is to be done voluntarily; there should not be any coercion or pressure. It is not the job of the preacher to “squeeze every nickel” out of Christians. 2 Corinthians 8:3b says, “they gave of their own accord,” and 9:7a says, “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion.” Thus, rather than having to be compelled to give, we should give voluntarily.

However, beyond voluntary giving, we should also be intentional in our giving. We should seek opportunities and give deliberately in order to meet a genuine need, not only out of guilt merely to soothe a pressing request. 2 Cor 8:4 says, “begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints,” and 9:2 says, “for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the Macedonians, namely, that Achaia has been prepared since last year, and your zeal has stirred up most of them.” Thus, seeking out places in which to invest for eternity should be part of Christian giving.

The most often preached upon attitude is … give cheerfully. 2 Corinthians 9:7b says, “for God loves a cheerful giver.” Don’t give begrudgingly. Note that rather than understanding “cheerfully” as a reference to “hilarious giving,” (which is a word study fallacy), cheerful giving should be understood in contrast to 9:7a: “not grudgingly or under compulsion.” That phrase is the opposite of what Paul wants in our attitude in giving.

Finally, we should have a willingness to give. All of a Christians’ possessions should be placed at the Lord’s disposal. This refers to much more than money. While command to “sell all and give it to the poor” (Matt 19:16–21) is not a binding command on all Christians today, a principle underlying that text is: don’t be so attached to your possessions that you wouldn’t be willing to give them all up for the Lord at a moments notice.

These are four principles of what our attitude toward giving should look like. Only one more category of giving left and we will have discussed many of the NT principles for giving.

The Attitude of Giving (and Possessions)
Definition: Giving ought to be done out of one’s free volition: no coercion, no pressure
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 8:3; 9:7

Definition: Seek opportunities and give deliberately in order to meet a genuine need, not out of guilt merely to soothe a pressing request
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 8:4 & 9:2

Definition: God loves a cheerful giver
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 9:7

Definition: All of a Christian’s possessions should be at the Lord’s disposal
Scripture: Matthew 19:16–21

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