Focal Passages: 2
Corinthians 8:8-15; 9:6-11
As I write this, my church
is right in the middle of a major “stewardship campaign.” We are seeking to
raise an overwhelming amount of money, for an obviously good reason, with some
incredibly good help. And while the enormity of the task is not lost on me, the
first thing our “campaign consultant” said was that we had to always focus on
this being “over and above” our normal giving. The tithe, he emphasized,
quickly, was not part of this.
Paul isn’t, necessarily,
talking to the church about tithing. But I think it is important that we
realize that the tithe is the starting point for Christian giving. Without it,
there is no foundation upon which other giving can be built.
Paul’s assumption with the Corinthian
church is one I am afraid might no longer be valid with us today. Paul believed
that giving “to the church” was a given, and so he began his teaching to them
talking about other charitable giving.
It is not that God needs our
money. He does not. But we need to give it. It is an act of worship, a show of
sacrifice that, when done correctly brings us closer to God. But even teaching
“giving” in the church context is almost a thing of the past.
Most of the things we know
about giving are cliché, scriptural or true for sure, but nonetheless cliché.
We can all say with assurance that God loves a cheerful giver. We all know that
it is not about, say it with me now, equal giving, but equal sacrifice.
We can’t help but remember
that we can’t “out-give God.” But do we know HOW to give? Do we have the
foundation of the tithe on which to build a strong giving principle?
Paul takes the time to write
to the Corinthian church about giving. He instructs them very precisely and
very specifically about not just that they should, but how they should. And
while we have (unfortunately) made most of those things cliché to the point of
trite, they are still very important.
I don’t know if my church
will make its goal or not. Did I mention the amount was huge? But whether we do
or not, we are using this time to relearn the principles of Christian
giving. Given that, I don’t think
we can lose.