One of the activities I participate in almost every year is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The idea behind NaNoWriMo is that every person has that one story, that one novel inside of them. So many people have started to tell that story and get about halfway through chapter three when they hit a roadblock. They aren’t sure how to get through a certain part of their story. They get frustrated at their lack of progress and when they can’t move past that road block, they give up on the story. NaNoWriMo’s approach is that the best thing to do in that circumstance is to get past the roadblock in any way possible. The most common approach is to write badly and fix that part in editing. Some people will write something like “Something happens here” and then continue the story knowing that they may write something later on that will inspire the way to fix the story.
Every year, many novels of over 50,000 words are written. There is a sense of accomplishment in writing that much in a month, in finishing the work. It’s easy to get discouraged when the work doesn’t progress like we think it should. Paul dealt with many in the Corinthian Church who had made promises about an offering to support the Jerusalem church, but apparently were unable to fulfill them in the amount they had pledged. He encouraged them to complete their work based on their current circumstances. “Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.” (2 Corinthians 8:11-12)
The Corinthians had a lot of issues throughout the church. Eagerness to give wasn’t one of them. Paul had mentioned an offering to help the saints out in Jerusalem and, based on what we read here, they eagerly jumped in with pledges of how much they would give. They wanted to help. They made pledges that must have been sacrificial. Perhaps they made pledges based upon a hoped-for upturn in economic fortunes. Whatever happened, the Corinthians were having trouble meeting their goals. Some, perhaps, quit giving when they realized that they weren’t going to be able to give all that they had pledged. Paul had a simple message for them. To quote the philosophers of this age, he told them to “Git ‘er done.” The important part about giving was not the amount, it was the willingness to give. Paul reminded them that they were accountable for what they had, now what they didn’t have and that a gift given that was less than promised was acceptable in God’s eyes based on their willingness to give.
Church giving should be a private matter. When I was on our church’s finance committee, I saw the checks that people gave when I was counting money, but I couldn’t tell you a week later who gave what. Giving should always be based on your relationship with God and with how He has blessed you. The key is not how much a person gives, it’s the willingness and the attitude as we give. We give a percentage of our income. As my wife and I talk about how much our check is when she writes it, larger checks are greeted with, “Wow! We’ve been blessed this month!” Our attitude is that it’s a privilege to give back to God even that small portion of what He’s blessed us with. I think that’s what Paul was trying to remind the Corinthians and would say to us today about giving. I think it’s a biblical principle about giving throughout the Old and New Testament: give joyfully based on what God has given you. When you realize that giving is a privilege and not an obligation, it makes giving a more joyful experience.
Lord, continue to remind me of the joy in giving to support Your work. Let all Your people celebrate as they give, knowing how much You have given them.