“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though
he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you
through his poverty might become rich.”
(II Corinthians 8:9)
Thoughts… Money is a touchy subject in most churches. Pastors have to tread lightly in this area these days or face being compared to money-grubbing televangelists, of which there seems to be an endless supply. Congregations get nervous about money too, sometimes feeling as if they exist only as a financial means to help the pastor achieve his ministry ends.
Periodically, I have a chance to watch religious services on television—which usually cures me from watching again for a long time—and it becomes apparent that some pastors have no fear of talking about money—or should I say, “asking” for it. These spiritual leaders take offerings with skill and passion that would make a door-to-door encyclopedia salesmen proud, and their congregations seem not to mind one little bit.
In most churches, however, this is not the case. Pastor and parishioner alike gets twitchy when it comes to offering time, and thus the subject that Jesus talked about more than anything else—money—is avoided like the plague.
But the Bible never backs off from the subject of money. William Allen has pointed out, “One verse in every six in the first three Gospels relates either directly or indirectly to money. Sixteen of our Lords forty-four parables deal with the use of misuse of money. A loving, joyful, liberal giving to the Lord’s work is an acid test of a spiritual heart, pleasing to God.”
The fact is, money is critical in the life of the believer and to the ministry of the church. God’s blessings are predicated upon his people being wise and faithful stewards of their resources, and the effectiveness of the church cannot be separated from the adequate resources it takes to carry out ministry. Every ministry I have encountered in my travels throughout the world, whether near or far, all face the same challenge: The resource challenge. Money is important!
That’s why Paul devotes two whole chapters to it here in II Corinthians 8 and 9. Paul wasn’t afraid to address this issue and challenge his people to have the right attitude toward giving. He knew that giving keyed both blessing to the giver and effectiveness for the ministry. And for that reason, Paul unashamedly promoted eager, generous, fair, joyful and expectant giving among God’s people.
And the basis for such an appeal was rooted in the eager, generous, fair, joyful and expectant giving of God revealed in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. That’s what the verse I began with is describing. In his generous grace, Jesus gave up the riches of heaven and took on the impoverished life of living as a human being in order that through his sacrificial giving we who were helplessly and hopelessly poor could partake in his eternal riches.
God is a giver. He set the example. He established the pattern. He did first what he now calls us to do. He gave his all, his very best, and he did so with eagerness and joy. He did it purposely and passionately. He did it you and for me. And now he calls you and me to do it as well.
“Just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.” (II Corinthians 8:7)
Perhaps it’s time for us to re-examine our attitudes toward money and giving. May our faithful stewardship in giving enable our faith to pass the acid test of true and God-pleasing spirituality.
Prayer… Father, all that I have is yours. All that I possess is from you. Even my ability to make a living is a gift from you. You are the true owner and giver of everything I have. So I re-dedicate myself to honoring you with the first fruits of my wealth, such as it is. My giving is my worship, and as such, I pray that it will be acceptable and pleasing to you. Cause my stewardship to result in the growth of your kingdom, and may souls stand in eternity some day as a direct outcome of my faithfulness in giving.
One More Thing… “I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare.” —C.S. Lewis