The Wandering Desert Monk

The Wandering Desert Monk

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

How generous should we be?

Today’s reflection continues from yesterday’s reflection on generosity from 2 Corinthians 8.

Yesterday we looked at the reason for giving; we give because we are the recipients of abundant goodness from the Divine Giver. Today we will focus on the how of giving. St. Paul provides some principles of giving in these words:

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:6-8).

First, be as generous as you can be because you reap what you sow. I want to say a word here about some televangelists who have misused this section of Scripture. This is not a teaching to tell you to send your television preacher some “seed money” because if you send him $20, God will send you $200. This “prosperity gospel” is a false gospel. The context of this teaching on generosity is to give the money to the poor and needy, particularly, the needy inside of the fellowship of Jesus’ followers. There are numerous Bible verses that teach that being generous to the poor is honored by the Divine Giver.

Second, there is no New Testament teaching on how how much you should give. It is as common teaching in many churches that their members should give 10% or a tithe of their income to the church. St. Paul says that we should give proportionately which means that those who lots of resources should give lots; those who are poor should give what they believe God wants them to give. Whatever you give, you should do so hilariously (the literal translation of the Greek word translated “cheerful” giver.

Third, giving is more than money. Notice that we are called to “abound in every good work.” My understanding that we can be generous in many ways. There are churches who tell their attendees to share their time if they cannot give of their money. This encourages followers of Jesus to understand that cooking a meal for a homeless shelter is as valued as putting a $100 bill in the collection basket.

Many of us have been generous recipients of our nation’s bounty. We owe it those around us to be generous.

Ronald Friesen © 2015

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