Christianity 201

December 10, 2021

Giving Irrationally

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:44 pm
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ESV Acts 20:34 “You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. 35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

The title of this devotional may imply a type of giving that is detached from all common sense, but as strange as that may seem, it’s on entirely far off from what we’re talking about.

In our part of the world, The Salvation Army has introduced tap payment (what in your part of the world may be called touch payment) on its collection ‘kettles.’ Although my wife and I plan to make a more focused online donation in a few days, I decided to use the device, especially since I am often encouraging others not to simply walk by the volunteers doing the collecting; especially now that we don’t transact with cash as frequently.

The machine offered three different donation amounts; I picked the middle one and waved my payment card. The machine beeped and then, five second later, there was another beep and I was on my way.

I’ll never know who that donation will affect, but I certainly appreciate that the local chapter of The Salvation Army isn’t paying a large staff to run the annual Christmas appeal, and that the actual collection point is staffed with volunteers.

In describing my beep-beep experience, I quoted Jesus in Matthew 6:3 (NLT)

But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.

It was an effortless, and I should add spontaneous act of giving, one that is in great contrast to where we were a decade or so previous, when we were on the receiving end of The Salvation Army’s generosity.

In 2 Corinthians 9:7, we get an idea of the spontaneity in giving that God desires. The verse is translated different ways:

  • God loves it when the giver delights in the giving. (MSG)
  • God loves the person who gives happily. (NCV)
  • God loves a cheerful giver. (Many other translations)

From this we often hear the phrase, “Give hilariously.” I figured that ‘Give irrationally’ was just a small stretch at that point.

Again, in my part of the world, giving is often anything but that. It’s strategic giving, focused toward the end of the year, for the purpose of receiving a tax benefit. Or perhaps the realization that the church treasurer is going to issue a year-end receipt soon, and our year-to-date gifts to our local congregation have been somewhat anemic.

It’s certainly not the spontaneity or hilarity that these verses imply, but you speak with the actual givers, the ones who practice generosity, you find them telling you repeatedly that there is joy in giving.

This type of giving is also quite distanced from the type of giving that is done in anticipating of getting something in return. While this may be a kingdom principle — in other words this is how things operate in God’s realm — it shouldn’t be the primary motivation. The principle is stated in Luke 6:38

Give, and it will be given to you; a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over—will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” (CSB)

While there is the promise of blessings returned, the person giving on that basis alone isn’t giving out of the best of motives; and the preacher or church leaders who encourages people to give because they’re going to get something back is encouraging a type of exchange transaction, not a spirit of generosity at all.

Further, a generous spirit is indicative of our faith as a whole. James writes,

James 2 (The Message)14-17Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?

Scripture tells the world will know we’re Christians by love, and love is expressed in kindness, compassion and generosity.

What individuals or organizations did you think about giving to as you read this?

Take the next step.

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