Pastor’s Ponderings: The Grace of Giving

Posted by on Oct 25, 2017 in Pastors Ponderings | 0 comments

Bishop Robert Schnase in his book, The Grace of Giving shares about the importance of God’s people to be generous. Generosity presents itself in multiple ways as we express our faith through the church and in our daily lives. Below is a small part from that important book. I would invite all of us to prayerfully consider these words and reflect upon them and what God might be saying to us.

There are many scripture references in the following text!  Notice that all of them are hyperlinks which will take you to the Bible Gateway rendition of the passage (most use The Living Bible translation).  Click on these links to put the cited passage into context.

 

At some point in our following Christ, we realize all that we are comes from God and belongs to God; this leads us to the practice of Extravagant Generosity. Hundreds of Scriptural stories, parables, and verses focus on possessions, wealth, poverty, giving, gifts, offerings, tithes, charity, sacrifice, generosity, and sharing with those in need, providing a strong theological basis for giving.

Old Testament

In the Old Testament, people of faith practiced first fruits, (which is) the giving of the first and the best of the harvest, livestock, or income for the purposes of God. Abram (Abraham) offered up a tithe, or tenth, of everything, and Jacob returned one–tenth of everything to God (Genesis 14:20; Genesis 28:22).

  • The Psalms and Proverbs repeatedly encourage the sharing of gifts with God and with the poor.
  • The prophet Malachi implores people to rely completely upon God, teaching them that when they practice the tithe they will find God’s providence and promise to be true (Malachi 3:8–10).

Giving reveals and fosters trust in God.

 

Jesus

Jesus teaches that the widow who dropped two coins in the Temple treasury gave more than all the wealthier people because she, out of her poverty, gave all that she had (Luke 21:1-4).  And Jesus highlights the foolishness of the farmer who built bigger barns to contain his earthly possessions while neglecting those things that would make him rich toward God (Luke 12:16-21).

With His story about Lazarus suffering at the front gate of the rich person’s house, Jesus reveals God’s disfavor with the wealthy who refuse to help those in need when they have the capacity to do so (Luke 16:19-31). How we use money matters to God.

Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity (Luke 6:38 – The Message). Giving opens our souls to God’s lead. For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son (John 3:16).

The root of generosity is God’s love. 

 

Paul

Paul writes, “You are familiar with the generosity of our Master, Jesus Christ. Rich as He was, he gave it all away for us – in one stroke He became poor and we became rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9 – The Message).

And Paul describes how the Christians at Macedonia gave not only according to their means but beyond their means, and he pushes others to excel in their giving in the same way (2 Corinthians 8:3–6).

Where God’s Spirit is present, people give.

 

John Wesley

John Wesley wrote extensively on the use of money, the danger of riches, and the importance of giving. For Wesley, all belongs to God. This changes how we perceive the manner by which we earn money and save money causing us to do so in appropriate ways. And it changes how we spend money, making us more responsible, and shapes how we give money. Wesley valued industrious and productive work, but he believed that acquiring money does not provide a profound enough life purpose to sustain the human spirit. John Wesley wrote:

Earn all you can, save all you can, and give all you can.

-John Wesley

Wesley drew an unbreakable link between acquisition and generosity, inviting us to use our material wealth to deepen our relationship with God and to increase our positive impact for God’s purposes.

What is God saying to us???

 

Shalom,

Pastor Jim

 

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