Let’s be clear at the beginning: this is not an attempt to convince anyone to give more money to his or her local church. Unfortunately, the mere mention of money in most churches usually results in silence and tension in the sanctuary.
That is not the goal here. My purpose is to explore giving in a general sense and as a major tenet of the Christian faith.
Giving holds a major place in the lives of Christians because the gospel began with giving. If God had not given his son, the gospel would not exist. Because God gave, we are likewise expected to give in furtherance of the gospel.
So what does he expect of us in this giving arena? The scriptures are clear on this issue.
We learn in the Old Testament that giving is an act of a “stirred up heart” and a “willing spirit” (Exodus 35:21). So giving is a function of the heart and the spirit, voluntary and not commanded.
God has given us the privilege of deciding for ourselves whether, what and when to give. He is more concerned about our motivation for giving than the act of giving.
Sincere, genuine heart-directed giving is his desire. Scripture frowns on giving that is done “grudgingly, or of necessity” (2Corinthians 9:7).
In other words, giving based on desires to conform to what others do; giving because we think giving is mandatory; or giving when we give even though we would rather not, are not scriptural reasons for giving and are displeasing to God.
Scripture also shows us a system or a plan of giving once our hearts are right. In 1Chronicles 29:1-9, David teaches to give according to a plan (verse 2, where he wrote “I have prepared”, referring to his gifts to the house of God). Paul shares this same advice in 1Corinthians 16:2. Both David (verse 3) and Paul (verse 2) advise to give in proportion to how God blesses us.
In retrospect, giving God’s way is giving that is willing, cheerful, free, proportional, systematic, according to a plan and from a sincere heart. God is not a fan of giving under any other mindset or motivation.
None of this comes natural or easy for most of us. We have to work at it to evolve into one who consistently gives God’s way, but we don’t have to figure it out alone.
David’s advice to Solomon in 1Chronicles 28:9 is as applicable to us as it was to Solomon: know God your father, and serve him with a sincere heart and a willing mind. Sincerity and willingness are big deals to God, and don’t try to fool him. He detects insincerity and superficiality every time.
So learn to be up front with him. Get to know him as he knows you.
We have one more point to share, which hopefully will serve as motivation to take God’s way of giving seriously — the principle of sowing and reaping found in 2Corinthians 9:6, “he which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.”
So, giving God’s way does have its perks. Try it; you’ll like it.
Rev. O.L. Johnson, a retired LAPD lieutenant, is an associate pastor in his home church, Greater New Zion Baptist, 501 W. 80th St. in Los Angeles.
Pastor’s Corner is a monthly religious column that looks at the relevancy of scripture to life today. The column appears on the first Thursday of each month in the Wave and its website, www.wavenewspapers.com