1 Corinthians 16; 2 Kings 12-13; Micah 3
We’ve been keeping score the wrong way. Seriously. If you want to see who the best player in a particular sport may be, what do you do? You go to your favorite search engine and you search for the highest salaries at that sport. It might be interesting to create a fictional team based on the highest paid player for each position, because, after all, the highest paid players are the best ones, right? The same thing applies to business salaries, entertainment, and almost any professional field where salary negotiation exists or earning power fluctuates depending on the ability of the one earning. That’s how we keep score, and we’re keeping score wrong.
None of those measures of keeping score deal with the quality of the person involved. He or she might be great at playing their sport or running their company, but what kind of person are they? What do they accumulate for themselves, and what do they give away? “Uh oh, he’s started meddling again. He’s talking about giving.” Isn’t it amazing that giving is such a sensitive subject for some Christians? Giving, for the follower of Christ, should be as natural as breathing. Jesus commended the widow who gave her all – not for how much she gave, but for her faith in giving. Paul talked about giving to help others also. “Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.” (1 Corinthians 16:1-2)
We should probably note that Paul is asking for more – for the over and above the regular giving the Corinthians engaged in. Not only did they give to support the church in Corinth, he was asking them to give to support the church in Jerusalem. Prophets had predicted a famine in the land. Christians were being disowned for following Christ. Christians were losing their jobs because they followed Christ. The Jerusalem Church was going through difficult times and Christian from Galatia to Corinth were taking up offerings to support their brothers and sisters in Christ. At least they had made some kind of commitment to do that. Paul was reminding them of that commitment so that they could take care of the collections so they wouldn’t run into a situation where Paul showed up and people did a last-minute collection where people gave out of guilt rather than planned giving out of love for Christ and for His people. It is in the DNA of a Christian to give to support the church and to help others.
Many of us have overcome that “genetic” predisposition. We’ve become experts at accumulating stuff without learning to give to support the church and people in need. We have leaders who make a point of noting that tithing (which means giving 10%) is part of Old Testament Law and isn’t a New Testament principle as a way of getting out of anything close to sacrificial giving. Perhaps we ought to look at that area of discussion with some of the principles Jesus taught about going over and above what’s expected. In my understanding, if you tithe, you are following the law; if you give more than 10%, you are giving under grace. Sadly, the average giving rate in a church is somewhere between 3% to 5%. We excuse that by pointing out that the government takes money from us in taxes so that they can do some of the things the church should be doing. Whatever the excuse may be, I really don’t care, because, giving is ultimately between you and God. Let me just leave you with this question, though. If the Church is doing as much as it is with giving at its current level, how much more could we do if people gave at a minimum of 10%. If you want the church to have a positive impact on society – you know what to do.
O Lord, You have given me so much. Let my heart and my attitude be so joyous in giving that others join in caring for others.