Cap's Corner: Thanksgiving and generosity
As a pastor, I have noticed the cycle of generosity within the church, and just like everything else, there seems to be a season for giving as well.
In a short time, it will be Thanksgiving Day, and this is not just a time for family, but a time to ponder and identify the blessings within your life. We take a moment, in our very busy lives, and take stock of what we have to be thankful for, and in this process we cannot help but look at our community around us.
For many, this maybe the only time in the year, that we see. We see, not just our own blessings, but we see the suffering that is going on right now within our community. We see hungry children. We see people, adults and children, wearing inadequate clothing for the cold. We see the lack that others are suffering. We see, in short, the need.
In 2 Corinthians 9:6-9, “6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 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. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.”
Here is the rub…if you truly believe that God is responsible for everything you have, then you must ask yourself the question, “Why?” Why would God give one much, and another so little? It is a far question, and I believe the answer is within the verse above. “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.”
Let’s unpack this. First, we read that those that have “freely” given gifts to the poor. This is in direct reflection of verse 7, where it says, “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.” I do not want to guilt anyone into giving. I want the Spirit of the Lord to, not just encourage you, but to excite you into having a generous heart. Once again, we find that even in this it is a “heart” thing. God does not want your obedience out of fear, but out of the love that flows from your heart, and this is no different.
Paul is telling us that each of us needs to decide how much we are willing to give, and to give with a joyful heart. That is why, I try to thank those that God has placed in my life to bless, to give. “Thank you for giving us this opportunity to bless you, for in doing so, I am blessed.”
Verse 8 tells us that God will bless us according to the amount we give. There is two things I want to clarify in this. First, our giving does not have to be money. Our giving can be in material things, such as coats or food. Or, it could be time. We can give some of our time, some of our life in service of others. We can volunteer to ring the Salvation Army bell outside of Walmart, or to help another in so many different ways. No, it does not have to be in money.
The second point I want to make in verse 8 is how God will bless you abundantly. I believe, too many preachers preach that these blessings will come in the form of money. This may be a raise, an unexpected gift, a promotion, or even a new job. Yes, God’s blessings may come this way, but more often than not God will bless you in so much greater way than just by money. How about contentment? Many wealthy people do not have this, and you cannot buy it. How about health? Many wealthy people do not have this, and you cannot buy it. How about joy or happiness? Many wealthy people do not have this, and you cannot buy it. My point is, of all of God’s blessings, money is the least.
Thanksgiving, because of all of these things, becomes the season of giving, and this spirit of generous giving flows to Christmas day. This is the season, when churches will see a shift in people’s giving, a shift upwards, and this is a good and decent thing, because churches are in the business of Christian love. Think about all of the giving that our few churches help others all year round?
We can only give to the amount given. If you want your community churches to give more, to do more, than encourage the community to participate more and to give more to the churches. And please, do not limit it for just this season, because we, the church, see the needs of this community all year round.
This thanksgiving, give the amount that gives you joy, and receive God’s blessing in whatever form He chooses.
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