Friday, October 13, 2017

To the Christian Rich - Your Number is Exceedingly Large, and Exceedingly Small

Significant time has passed since I first began pursuing the Christian Rich. I suppose it's time to define my terms. When I say "Christian Rich," I don't mean millionaires only. I mean something closer to what perhaps the Bible means. I mean those of you who have significantly more income (and normally possessions) than you need. I mean those who, when you think about money, it is largely a contemplation regarding your next purchase or investment. It is not about how you will make the house payment, fuel your vehicle, keep your utility services, secure a haircut, or stock your pantry. I mean those of you who could give away much more money than you do, and even sell some of your possessions to generate more cash, and your lifestyle would not change significantly. I mean those of you who continue to stockpile wealth and stuff while giving the bare minimum (if that), and measure your generosity not by what you have left over after you give, but by whether you meet the basic 10% standard. And hey, 10% is commendable. I'm for 10%. But finding yourself in a position to do so much more, perhaps you should. Yes, you should. Fight greed - give. Relieve suffering - give. Be a blessing - give. Be generous - give. Love the poor - give. Change lives - give. Be an answer to prayer - give. Consider others more significant than yourself - give. Be courageous - give. Live with eternity in mind - give. Trust Jesus -give.

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written,

“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;
    his righteousness endures forever.”

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
2 Corinthians 9:6-15

This text is particularly instructive because in it the Apostle Paul is not dealing with the tithe. He is writing of contributing to an offering he is collecting to relieve the poor believers in Jerusalem. I think he means for the Corinthians to tithe and add to his collection. The way Paul talks here about giving money is not the way the tithe is taught elsewhere. Some argue that Paul is describing the New Covenant way of giving, that the tithe is obsolete after the resurrection of Jesus. To write on why I think that's wrong would take many pages which no one would read. So suffice it to say I see two different kinds of giving in both Testaments - tithing and then other gifts. Second Corinthians 8 & 9 describe, I think, reasons and ways to give offerings (though I do believe giving your tithe to relieve the poor is also acceptable).  

Every believer is required to tithe, and then should offer other gifts, though the demand is not quite the same. Those of you with wealth, just imagine, together, out loud, with your family around the dinner table, the extravagant good and relief and hope and help and transformation and joy and love you can provide, if you would only open your hearts, and then your hands. I assume almost none of you will. But if I can move just one, my efforts will not have been wasted.

By the way, if by "rich" I meant only the millionaires, I would not write to the "Christian" ones, because I'm not sure there are any of them.  

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