Friday, August 20, 2010

How to Give According to Grace

By S. Michael Durham

People don't give what they ought to give. The reasons vary from indebtedness, hearts enslaved to things, fear of losing financial security, a spirit of hoarding; but all of these reasons can be reduced to one—they don’t really love Christ and His kingdom as they should. It is not a financial problem but a spiritual problem.

But there is another reason: many don’t know why they should give or what they are to give. If the New Covenant has eliminated tithing, how does God mandate giving for the follower of Jesus Christ? This is the first of several blog posts that will answer the question.

First, we must remember that giving is commanded of every believer. 1 Corinthians 16:2, Paul directs his readers, “On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come” (emphasis added). There are no exemptions. The size of your paycheck or even the lack of one does not exempt you from giving. If you have no money, then what do you possess that could serve the kingdom rather than indulge your flesh? You may ask, “What about grace? Aren’t we under grace rather than law? Isn’t the command to give a law?” The answer is simple: grace does not exempt giving because giving is a grace. And all are commanded to use the grace of God given in order to give.

Secondly, Paul commands giving consistently. Again, 1 Corinthians 16:2: “On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.” Paul commands systematic giving. Convenient giving is a luxury not often afforded in Christianity. It was not convenient for Abraham to offer up Isaac. It was not convenient for Moses to return to Egypt. It was not convenient for Jesus to die to Himself and to the cross. So, we should not give only when it’s easy.

Giving regularly reminds us from where our provision comes. And the more we are reminded of God’s provision for us, the more we will want to give to the provision of others.

Also, giving regularly is an antidote to materialism. By giving consistently, we constantly have opportunity to fight against selfishness, worldliness and greed. This is especially true when it isn’t convenient or easy to give, like when finances are tight—or when you want to squander money on something you may not need. Self-denial may not be vogue in most circles, but it’s still cool in Christ’s kingdom. This form of grace releases our hold on things. Better said, this form of grace releases the hold things have on us.

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