Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Love Gives, and Grace Rounds Up - Part 2

Since I last posted I've had many more thoughts on giving. But I did not write any of them down. So I've forgotten most of them. But one that I have not forgotten that has helped me is a thought on how we measure our giving. It could be argued, perhaps from the Bible, that the tithe is all God requires of us when it comes to giving money. I would not argue that because of texts like Mark 12:41-44 which shows us at least one way Jesus measures giving. He measures it not by how much we give, but by how much we have left over after we give. So affirming a strict tithe (10%), in light of Jesus' measurement, seems to me to be short-sighted.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Love Gives and Grace Rounds Up

Through a recent community group gathering (weekly evening coming together of a few Christians from the larger congregation of our church), I was forced again to consider Jesus' parable called "The Good Samaritan" (Lk 10:25-37). The parable teaches us what it means to love others. Discussion of this led to our group considering what love does. This has stayed on my mind now for 10 days. Perhaps if I write something this force will lessen. I want to attempt to do this using bullet points. So, off the top of my head:

- Love gives (Cf Jn 3:16; 1 Jn 3:16-18).
- Love gives generously, providing the kind of help that makes significant difference.
- Grace rounds up, I think. So when you give of yourself and/or your money, do the same. Err on the side of abundance.
- One reason the Bible tells us to work is so that we have something to give away (Ep 4:28). The Christian who believes he/she works too hard for their money to just give it away is foolish, and uninformed, and selfish.
- Giving fights greed.
- Give off the top of all your income (not just earned income - Pr 3:9).
- God loves giving, and rewarding givers (Pr 3:10).
- Jesus shows us that the selfish, to justify themselves, point to what they consider their good works. On the other hand, the happy giver, rewarded by God, doesn't distinguish between his giving and his living. The service is so intermingled with his existence and comes so naturally that when reminded of his excellent and helpful deeds, the generous person seems not to remember them (Mt 25:31-46).
- We all know folks who need our help. We should help them, and we should enjoy helping them. And when our sinful selfish minds fill with the demand that we look for a list of qualifiers before providing loving service, remember that the chief qualifier is the need itself.
- When someone approaches you as you wait for the gasoline pump to stop, and he asks you for spare change, don't worry about what he will buy with the money you give him. If in your uptightness (often confused with holiness) you're concerned that he will buy beer with the money, then I say give him enough money to ensure that he can get good beer. Don't send him away with only enough cash for Coors Light. Supply the Samuel Adams instead (Cf Jn 2:1-12).
- Giving money, I think, is the easy service. I find much more demanding the time, energy, re-arrangements, conversations, etc required for loving my neighbors.
- The Christians shown to us in 2 Co 8-9 could not afford to give. Yet, they gave. The text says they were eager to help and begged the Apostle Paul to take part in the good work of relieving their needy  brothers and sisters in another part of the world. Their commended example also shows us that our giving should not be limited to our own families and congregations [Cf He 13:3, and remember that Jesus blesses His people who give to "strangers" (Cf Mt 25:31-46)].
- In the Sermon on the Mount alone, Jesus says we should give to those who ask, and those who want to borrow from us, and to the poor. "Freely you received, freely give" (Mt 10:8).
- According to 2 Co 8-9, God's gracious giving to us motivates us to graciously give to others. If you are driven this way and therefore have strong desires to help big and many, but can't, then I suggest doing for one what you would like to do for all.
- The Bible orders our giving. It gives us categories. It tells us that a righteous man leaves an inheritance for his children's children (Pr 13:22 - saving, investing); and it speaks favorably of sacrificial giving to the point of having nothing left (Mk 12:41-44). It speaks of taking care of our families (1 Ti 5:8), and of strangers (as noted above). Etc. But don't fret over such demands. We're not told to do any of this as though there is no God (See 2 Co 9:8-15, for example).

Saturday, February 8, 2014


As I sit in my chair attempting to concentrate on a thing, it's quite difficult not to regularly give a glance toward my children playing wildly and loudly in the living room. So I must ask myself, "Was the room made for my children, or were my children made for the room?" (Cf Mk 2).

I think the right answer to this question has enormous potential for the calming of my soul.