Tuesday October 10, 2023 From Practicing Extravagant Generosity: Daily Readings on the Grace of Giving
Aligned With God’s Purposes “They . . . gave according to their means, and even beyond their means, begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints.”
— 2 Corinthians 8:3-4
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul commends the generosity of communities of faith, especially those who remain surprisingly extravagant in their giving during difficult travails. Writing of the churches of Macedonia, he says “for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part” (2 Corinthians 8:2). The notion that stewardship rightly focuses on the Christian’s need to give rather than the church’s need to receive is a spiritually powerful truth. The practice of tithing blesses and benefits the giver as much as it strengthens the mission and ministry of the church.
Still we wonder, does our giving really make a difference? What does our generosity have to do with our spiritual lives?
One reason many people give is simply because they love their church and they want the life-changing ministries of their congregation to prosper. They are themselves the beneficiaries of the church’s ministries and they do their share to pay for the bills, the salaries, the facilities, and the costs so that the church can offer outreach, children’s ministries, worship, and mission. They support the church so that others can receive what they have received. The fruit of this giving is tangible and visible; it is both immediate and long-term. Churches with generous members offer more ministry, work with greater confidence, have less conflict, and make a greater impact on their communities and on the world. Responsibility and hope for the church motivate the giver. People want their congregations to thrive.
People also give because their contribution aligns with the purposes God wants them to fulfill in the world. Helping people, relieving suffering, teaching the spiritual life, reaching young people—when we sense God’s call to make a difference, we can contribute our time or become personally involved in the day-to-day ministry. Another way to make a difference is through giving, contributing the resources that make possible the work that we feel called to support. We please God by making the difference God wants us to make.