Christianity 201

June 25, 2021

God’s Intention for Us is Generosity

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:30 pm
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A year ago we introduced you to the apologetics website with the unusual title, Theist Thug Life. This article was co-authored by Daniel Serrano and Phillip Mast. Click the header below to read at source, then click the page header there to look at other articles.

Christian Responsibility in Charity: Reasons for Forsaking Dependence on Government to Fulfill our Role

For Christians, a well-known command in scripture from our Lord and Savior, Jesus, is to love our neighbor as yourself (Mark 11:21). An important aspect of that command is what we know as charity. Examples of charity in scripture go as far back as leaving wheat on the ground in your fields for the poor, as found in Deuteronomy 24:19, to the famous Parable of the good Samaritan found in Luke 10:25-37. We also see instructions to carry each other’s burdens by Paul in Galatians 6:2 and provide for requests as Jesus mentions in Luke 6:30. There is inherently nothing that can be used to argue against such actions by us who profess Christ. For some time, especially of late, there arises an issue relating to our giving: What about when the government steps in and takes your money to help your neighbor? Some have argued that this is still obedience to us being commanded to care for others because you’re helping in a way. Is such an objection grounds for thinking we do not have to do more because we have helped via the government? Not so fast.

Personal Responsibility in Caring for Others

Certain Christians are called to certain roles and responsibilities, such as fathers leading their homes, pastors leading their flocks, government officials serving in their capacities, Godly women teaching the younger women how to also be Godly women, etc. Then there are certain responsibilities for ALL Christians. Charity is one such area. Every Christian is commanded to provide assistance to those within their sphere of influence when able. This is NOT accomplished by the government becoming an intermediary between the giver and the recipient, as it robs the relationship. Scripture clearly instructs that WE are called to provide the blessing, not pay government officials to take our money and do what we are commanded to do in our place. Not only is this wasteful of resources but it is also disobedient. If a man paid somebody else to be a father to his children and a husband to his wife, we would rightly look at him as if he was crazy but we turn around and have no problem outsourcing our charitable acts. It isn’t surprising why though. We have excuses ranging from laziness, to convenience, to pride and this is done often forgetting that we’re better off than others only by the grace of God. Very easily, the situations could reverse themselves and we’d find ourselves in need. Upon these thoughts, here are four things to think about.

1. A helping hand breeds gratefulness and relationship between giver and recipient. When a friend helps you, it deepens your bond. As Christians, we are called to community; we were made for community. When the church or you as an individual help others, a bond is forged between both parties. We also show who Christ is through such acts of love and generosity of being there for someone when they really need it. There is no such bond or representation of Christ to others when the government is the one providing the help. Ask yourself, “What need is there for the church or you if the government is left to do the giving?”

2. You are called to do things and give with a cheerful heart. In 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 we read,

“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.”

By the very nature of taxes, giving cheerfully and not under compulsion cannot be accomplished. When you pay taxes, you do so out of obligation to the authorities to avoid being jailed. Paying taxes is enforced by threat of gun is another way to put it. This is contrasted with when you freely give. In this way, you get to prayerfully and cheerfully decide the manner, amount, and method of charity you participate in.

3. By delegating or allowing others to do so in your place, it is a form of pride. God Himself came to provide for us when we couldn’t. If we are to emulate Him, to truly imitate Christ, we ourselves must go and provide. From John 3:16 to James 2:14-17 to Matthew 25:35-45, we see the individual being the agent of the blessing. Why do we gloss over this and think we can fob off blessing others to the government? Do you think your time is too important, or look down on those less fortunate? Beware; this is a dangerous place of pride. Those of us blessed with more or within improved circumstances are only better off because of His mercy. God makes no mistakes in where and when he places each of us. He is likewise not mistaken in placing you purposefully to reflect who he is to others.  Further, scripture such as James 1:27 demands proximity to the unfortunate.

4. Charity doesn’t consist of only money, but can be your time as well. Having worked in a food bank for many years, it was amazing to see the love shared without the need for a monetary exchange. Once a month, groceries would be provided without cost thanks to donations from grocery stores and private purchases. As a teenager going from being a recipient of the groceries to also being able to give them out to others in similar situations, I was able to understand and live Romans 12:13 where it says, “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” To see Acts 2:44-45 embodied, Christians sacrificing with happy hearts to help the community while others were the manpower behind it, is to see the heart of God. This cannot be done behind a government bureaucracy.

5. Following God’s Leading in Giving is also a form of Worship. I live in the United States and money is king in many respects. Often we see people spend large amounts of time to getting it, some sacrificing their lives to work in order to gain it. Many will use money as a means of getting power and opulence or trying to acquire it to give themselves a life of comfort and pleasure. No matter what, Society often equates having money with having security. There is no such thing however. We seeing the living embodiment of 1 Timothy 6:10 present,

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”

When we choose not to hold onto the money we have but give, as we are able and as God leads us, we are making a decision to reject the temptation to love money and instead love God and the things of God. When we are willing to cheerfully give, even sacrificially, money does not hold control as it does to those of the world. We must recognize that everything belongs to God. What we have belongs to God and we are merely given stewardship of his possessions. How can we hoard up for ourselves what is God’s? We can’t! We worship God by thanking him for that which we have and being willing to pass on those things to others who have need. When money is not the object but a means, we forego loving it.

Moving Forward

At the end of it all, I am only against government charity because it shows the failings of the church. We are commanded to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to visit the widow and orphan and more in conjunction with preaching the Gospel. The church body needs to be obedient to Scripture and such obedience disallows us from punting the responsibility we have to the secular institution. It is the church’s responsibility, and as such I admonish everybody to honestly look inside and reflect on these matters. Where have you been blessed by God in order to be able to bless others? Think of your finances, your talents, and your time. God gifts each of us with certain blessings and talents that fit purposefully within the body of Christ. Those blessed with more have increased opportunity to use what God has made them stewards of to bless those he places around us.

A word of caution for those blessed with more: Don’t think for a moment that God has given you more so that you can sit back, relax through life and think of your comfort and desires. No, God’s intent is for us all to know him and be the church. We may indeed enjoy things in life, take a moment to relax and find some comfort but don’t let those blessings become an idol.

A word of caution for those less fortunate: Don’t envy those who have much. Don’t allow jealousy to consume your heart when it should be filled with the joy of the Lord. This doesn’t mean you wont experience difficulties but don’t let those difficulties grow resentment. God has also richly given to you certain abilities and talents others do no possess. God has purposefully place you where you are and when you are for a reason and put people in your sphere of influence others won’t have immediate access to. Pray and ask God for guidance on where to see how God can work in and through you.

Matthew 25:35-40 says it all:

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,  I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’  Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”

August 30, 2012

Taking Up The Offering: It’s OK to Ask

Since some of you are in leadership, here’s a great piece by Blake Coffee at Church Whisperer on asking people to give when that goes against your basic personality or instincts.  You’re encouraged to read it at his blog — click the title link — where it appeared as…

A Spirituality of Fundraising


Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. 1 Timothy 6:17-19

This year has been and will continue to be a huge transitional year for our ministry, Christian Unity Ministries. This is the year we will transition from a small, church consultation ministry operated by Blake and a few of his friends in their spare time to a full-fledged, global non-profit organization with a paid staff and active arms operating in churches and denominational entities all over the world. Last year’s budget: approximately $75,000. The 2013 budget: approximately $350,000. That, my friends, is a God-sized transition!

One of the most painful transitions, it seems, is the one going on in me…the transition toward becoming the visionary leader this new organization will require. And, just to get very specific here for purposes of this post, I am thinking primarily about the transition into becoming a leader in matters of money and fundraising. Anyone who knows me very well at all, knows that I have simply never been very passionate about fundraising. I have long recognized the eternal truth that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. And so, it has always been easier for me to just avoid talking (or thinking) about money rather than having to delve into any theology concerning it.

But scripture really does not permit that, does it? A truly Biblical worldview really will not coexist with a fear of this conversation…in fact, a truly Godly perspective demands that we (as Christ followers) have a well-developed theology concerning money and wealth. So it is with fear and trepidation that I read Paul’s admonishment to me and to you and to young pastor Timothy and to every other leader of Christ-followers about our role in teaching and mentoring others: Command them …to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

My friend, Barry Nelson, is Director of Development at Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary & College. Earlier this year, he gave me a copy of Revolution in Generosity, a compilation of profound writings from Christian leaders on the spirituality of fundraising (find that resource here or Google it…I believe it is crucial reference material for every leader of every Christian organization). That work’s project leader and editor, Wesley K. Willmer, makes this point this way:

If we view giving as an instrument of transformation, we will support our givers through a consistent program of prayer and personal interaction, accepting the fact that it is the Holy Spirit, not our personality, that influences how they give. The change will take time, both for those asking for and those giving funds. But as we embrace the transformational model, the focus shifts from the gift and getting money to seeing God’s power work in individual lives. Revolution in Generosity, p. 40.

And so, the transformation in me (and in my leadership) takes root in the deepest passion of my spiritual life: my desire to see lives being changed. When my heart says to God, “I don’t want to raise funds…to talk about money…” God’s voice says back to me, “Then you don’t want to be about real life change…about real discipleship.”  So, I am not raising funds…I’m raising Christ-followers.  I can get comfortable with that!

Blake Coffee

Here’s another good article at Church Whisperer, Good-sized Vision v. God-sized Vision.  Preview:

For both churches and individuals, there is a difference between a good-sized vision and a God-sized vision….

I am thinking this had to be a disturbing and frightening scenario for the disciples who, for almost three years, had awakened each morning and simply allowed Jesus to set the agenda for the day.  The only thing he asked of them was that they follow him.  It was an easy arrangement, one that led them through amazing and miraculous moments and obviously changed them forever.  Now, Jesus was leaving them and telling them “you guys take it from here…go and do this ministry!”   …continue