Sunday, February 10, 2013

2 Corinthians 9:7

“Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”


“Each one must do just as he has purposed (proaireomai: brought forward for one's self, preferred, made up one’s mind) in his heart (kardia: the seat of one’s physical and spiritual life, innermost), not grudgingly (lupe: sorrowfully, heaviness, grievous, grudgingly) or under compulsion (anagke: by law of duty regarding to one's advantage, distress, necessity), for God loves (agapao: well pleased with, to be contented at or with a thing) a cheerful (hilaros: joyous) giver.”


Each one must do just as he has made up his mind in his innermost being, not in sorrow or heaviness, or out of duty and necessity, for God is well pleased with a joyous giver.


Recently, while dining out, I overheard the patrons next to us being told about how the restaurant was requesting donations for a certain organization. After the server asked them if they’d like to have a donation added to their bill, the patron began to thoroughly explain how she already has a certain dollar amount taken out of a her paycheck each week that goes to a charity, so they would not be making a donation at this time. While the lady’s regular, repeat donation is surely a great thing indeed, it got me to thinking. First of all, she didn’t just say “no”. She felt obligated to thoroughly tell the server why she was saying no - justifying her disinterest in giving again. (Which I’d like to point out, I’m not criticizing whatsoever.) In her mind though, she had already given “enough”. My mind wandered all over the place for several hours and I meditated on a couple Scriptures that came to mind, like the one above. Most Christians have resolved to adhere to the common “10% rule”. The problem that I have with the “10% tithe” mentality is that it can so easily lead to the “I gave already” mindset (as I overheard in the restaurant). Also, it can direct you to live a life that is duped to believe that the remaining 90% is somehow “yours” to use as you wish. Perhaps most dangerously, it can have a strong tendency to lead one to believe that God somehow owes you because you gave your minimum requirement. (We could explore how this approach actually defines God as your employee but I won’t get into that.)

All of this being said, I’m a huge proponent of the lifestyle of giving. After years and years of never being able to sort out the “what exactly is 10%?” question, guilt over when I didn’t even have it to give, dreading giving at all because I’d rather use it for something else and the twisted thoughts of how God owes me a blessing because I gave my 10%, I laid it all down (several years ago). These days I cheerfully give out of what I have whenever I see a need. People I give rides to. Neighbors that we take food. Cash given to the homeless and poor, no matter whether they “misuse” it or not! My time to sit and listen to others who are hurting, whether or not I actually have the time. I keep no records, never ask for tax write-offs (seriously?!) and never think for a moment that “I gave enough already”. I don’t choose to do it out of duty, repetition or begrudgingly because my Father gave me everything. My possessions, my money, what I hold as valuable in my life, I want to give – cheerfully! And the things that I cling to with clenched fist, well those are things that I still need to lay at the beautiful feet of my Jesus. We’re all surely a work in progress. What is “purposed in your heart” today?


Anonymous said...

Great Message! I have come to see the 10% rule in the same way you do. Over the years I have watched as certain people quickly and gladly give their 10% in the same way they may give child support, to a child who they have no problem supporting financially yet, they choose not to have a relationship with. It's as if they feel they have done their duty as a parent. These people often treat God in a similar way :) The 10% is not a struggle/sacrifice for them, but the giving of their time would be. Reminds me of a "pay off" mentality. They smile as they drop their 10% in the plate yet treat God like they would a relationship with no strings attatched. Much like the "friends with benifits" that many seek out in relationships in todays society.I often hear these same people complain aout the entitlement mentality that is so prevalent today. Somehow they don't see that they too are plagued with this themselves. As you said, the 90% is in their opinion, reserved for them, and God forbid there be a need that would require they relinquish any of it to meet the need. Speaking from a personal experience here, these people live their lives in this way most of the time. Everything must come with a pay off of some sort. Even if just personal recognition. Sorry for rambling here :) This is just something that I have been meditating on lately and my mind is all over the place with it right now.

Joel Spencer said...

Anonymous: Great analogy with the child support comparison. The "I gave already, please leave me alone" approach is surely not what the Scripture speaks of in regards to our giving. One cannot buy God's favor or love. Thanks for joining the discussion. - Joel