The Importance of Vision
Cultivate a Joyful Attitude of Generosity In a former article, https://givinggenerously.com/2018/07/ I looked at the fascinating book, ‘The Paradox of Generosity’ by Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson. It showed the extent to which a generous attitude to life counts towards happiness. The key is being open-hearted in general. Just one-off acts won’t cut it. The sort of one-off acts I mean are, for example, giving blood occasionally, or donating once to a forest fire or an earthquake appeal, or occasionally supporting the Salvos.
These are great to do but according to Smith and Davidson, that sort of giving doesn’t correspond to any blessing. What is needed, they suggested, is a character that loves generosity that values it and integrates it into your life as a whole.
One of the threads that runs through the New Testament in the bible, is a collection in the form of an offering. The believers in Jerusalem were in famine and the Apostle Paul, who was always concerned for the poor, was gathering together a sum of money to help with famine relief. Now there is a special appeal in the second letter to the Corinthians.
Paul says (and I paraphrase), ‘take up an offering. Get it ready. When I come I want you to hand it over freely and willingly. I don’t want to have to twist your arm. I don’t want to see you groaning. I don’t want to have to hold a gun to your head’. Paul wants it to be a generous gift not a grudging gift.
Notice the two contrasting Gs: Generous not Grudging.
Here is food for thought and action. Check your heart when there are appeals at church. Never get cranky with ministers for asking. Putting the needs before us is part of their job. You can decide whether you support this appeal or that appeal, but remember it’s good to give and it’s good for ministers to give you the opportunity to give.
St Paul further says
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Cur 9:6-7)
He talks about sowing and reaping. You get out what you put in. This is precisely the same concept which Jesus spoke about. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Luke 6:38
They are pretty dumb farmers who complain about a miserable harvest when they hadn’t planted anything!
But Paul emphasizes, ‘not reluctantly or under compulsion’ No one should squeeze your arm. No one should manipulate you. No one should put pressure on you. My wife Helen received a call from a fund raiser that included,
‘Please Helen, Please. We desperately need your help’. Maybe this was an over enthusiastic volunteer but Helen certainly felt manipulated.
I used to say to my congregation in Wollongong,’ if you feel manipulated, don’t give. I want you to give because you love Jesus and you love people and you want to see the message of the gospel going out and transforming people’s lives. That’s the reason to give, not because I am some clever salesman’.
On one occasion I was visitor at a church on the day they were having a special appeal for their new building. They took up the special offering. Then after a couple of songs they took up the regular offering: two offerings in a row.
Then, just as the service was about to close, the senior minister said, ‘I know you have been very generous but as you know once a month we take up a special offering to support our missionaries overseas. That time of the month just happens to be today. And if we skip our offering they will be in a very hard way, They depend on us’. So the church took up a third offering and no one seemed to blink. They gave again, not grudgingly but freely. Now that’s a generous church with a generous attitude!
For more on resourcing church ministry with the right attitude see my book, Giving Generosly.