You might think so if you spend much time being exposed to what passes for Christian television these days. At one time or another we have all been exposed to sob filled, mascara streaked appeals telling us, “If you don’t send in a ‘love gift’ today, this annointed, Holy Spirit empowered ministry is going to go off the air!”
Maybe it’s the after effects of being raised by an attorney, but when I encounter these “whine-a-thons”, I often find myself asking some simple questions of our overwrought hosts – “If you are so annointed by God, why doesn’t He pay your bills?” “If I can have everything I want if I just have faith, why isn’t your faith working right now?”
I get the distinct impression that there are going to be some awkward silences when the Lord asks some of these spiritual celebrities why they financed their private jets, $10,000 suits and $5,000 per night hotel stays on the donations of little old ladies tithing out of their social security checks.
Does God need our money? Believe it or not, this is one of the most frequently asked questions we recieve on our A Reason for Hope broadcast. And here’s a simple answer – No. He doesn’t.
Contrary to what you may have heard at fund raising dinners and “share-a-thons”, you won’t find Jesus standing in line at the local Pay Day Loan Emporium. God certainly isn’t broke. He isn’t a tight wad, either.
And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
So how should this effect us when we are asked to give to a spiritual cause? First of all, we need to remember that giving according to the New Testament is never a “got to”. Sometime we will give because we feel pressured to do so. Or because someone has laid a guilt trip on us. Or even expressed a veiled spiritual threat – “You know, God won’t bless your life unless you give to this effort!”
Can I share something with you as a pastor? If a so called “invitation to partner with God” starts sounding like one of those curses leveled at you if you don’t forward an obnoxious spam e-mail on to 82 of your closest friends, it’s not from the Lord.
One of the most clarifying and liberating passages on the nuts and bolts of giving as Christians is found in II Corinthians 9. There the apostle Paul was sharing with the believers at Corinth about a relief effort put together to help the people of Jerusalem through a time of famine. A worthy cause? No doubt. An urgent need? Absolutely. Yet consider how Paul took pains to make sure that if the Corinthians were to take part in the effort it would be for all the right reasons.
So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written:
“He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.” (II Corinthians 9:7-9)
The message? God loves a “cheerful” giver. The word in Greek is the same one we get our term “hilarious” from. In other words, if we find ourselves rolling our eyes, sighing under our breath, or thinking, “Oh, all right..Whatever..” when an appeal is made – DON’T GIVE!
So why should we give at all? There’s really only one good reason to be involved with giving as Christians.
“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” (Ephesians 5:1-2)
We give because we want to be like our Father. We give because we want to be like Jesus. And when God expresses His love, have you noticed that it always involves giving?
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
So next time you are in a situation that involves giving – stop a moment and check yourself. “Am I giving because I’m under pressure?” “Am I giving, but my heart isn’t really in it?” Or “Am I giving because I want to be more like Jesus?”
When you give, give to the Lord, not to some personality, program or project. When you give, do it in love. Then giving will be a “get to”, not a “got to” in your life!