Until relatively recently people in the West had calendars that were marked out with Saints’ Days. It says a lot about the way things are that calendars now are marked with ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’; days in which we are supposed to open the Internet and buy for ourselves what we have always wanted. A welcome attempt to counter this commercialisation of the calendar is ‘Giving Tuesday’ which this year falls on 27th November. It is an opportunity for ‘everyone to take a moment and support the charities that are doing good work in their local communities’. It gets my vote. Giving needs encouragement: after all, as the saying goes, ‘when it comes to generosity, some people stop at nothing’.
Giving is something that is vital but frequently ignored. If you’re a church leader, to announce that next Sunday you will be preaching on ‘giving’ or ‘generosity’ is a safe way of guaranteeing empty seats. Yet we need to be generous, and let me suggest four reasons why giving is important.
First, giving is an act of liberation. The grim reality is that money and things entrap and snare us: they come with strings attached. Whether we want things because we think – falsely – that they will bring us security or because we think – again falsely – that they will give us self-fulfilment doesn’t matter. Clinging on to what we have is the spiritual equivalent of putting our hands around our throat and squeezing tightly: keep going long enough and it’s all over. The lives of the great misers, whether fictional like Scrooge or real like Howard Hughes, are depressing tales. For us to decide to give abundantly is to take an axe to the powers that entangle us and to say to the world – and the devil – that we cannot and will not be bought or bound by wealth. There’s a profound logic here. Because God is good and giving and because we are made in God’s image, to be authentically human is to give. Paradoxically, selfishness makes us losers: we become less human than we ought to be. It is by giving we receive and by grasping we lose. To give is to live.
Second, giving is an act of appreciation. Behind giving is the acknowledgement that our giving God has, through Jesus, paid an infinite amount in order to save us. That is a price we could never pay ourselves; we can merely accept it with thanks. The best evidence that we have understood what God has done for us is shown by how we live and give. Generosity demonstrates that we have understood grace: there is no stronger evidence of our conversion than our giving. See, for example, the story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1–10).
Third, giving is an act of dedication. To give to a cause is to affirm our support for it. Our giving to the work of Christ is a very real demonstration of our commitment to him. We are quite literally ‘putting our money where our mouth is’. A lot of giving today is impulsive, often triggered by some emotional appeal that has moved the heart. The concept of dedication reminds us that the best and most lasting sort of generosity comes from a decision of the mind.
Finally, giving is an act of celebration. One of the problems with showing gratitude is our attitude. We tend to view giving entirely in negative terms as something that should be avoided. Yet as Jesus is quoted as saying in Acts 20:35, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’
We should give widely, wisely and willingly. As Paul writes, ‘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 Corinthians 9:7 niv). To give generously is to make a joyful statement of who we are, what we stand for and what we want to be.
The letters of the New Testament treat giving as something of enormous importance. Paul spends a substantial amount of 2 Corinthians (chapters 8 – 9) encouraging the Corinthian believers to give. So important is this to him that he resorts to two of the very strongest ways of encouraging them. First, he sets before them the example of the believers in Macedonia who, under very difficult circumstances, have enthusiastically given more than they were able to afford (2 Corinthians 8:1–5). Second, he threatens them with embarrassment if they don’t give because he’s already been boasting about their generosity (2 Corinthians 9:1–4).
Using the example of others and the threat of embarrassment as arguments are forceful tactics and I’m reluctant to employ them! Nevertheless, in terms of example, it’s hard to forget instances of extraordinary generosity towards God’s work by followers of Jesus in Africa and Asia whose daily wage is what we might pay for a coffee and a croissant. And in terms of embarrassment, I could mention that history (possibly) and God (certainly) could judge us as a generation who talked a lot about receiving from God but knew little of giving in return. The great twentieth-century Dutch saint Corrie Ten Boom wrote: ‘The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration, but its donation.’ How will we be measured?
So, on this ‘Giving Tuesday’ let us review our giving to our local church, to charities and to ministries like ours. If the Lord lays on your heart to give and sow to our ministry it will be gratefully received, so we can finish the year well and enter a new year filled with immense opportunities.
If you would like to give to our ministry please see below for ways you can give.
Be blessed as you give, and if you are in need, I pray that someone will be prompted to give to you.
If you would like to consider giving a monthly offering to Philo Trust, please click on the link below where you may setup a regular donation.
If you would like to consider giving a one-off gift to Philo Trust, please click on the link below where you may make a one-off donation online.
If you would like to consider giving through a different means then please click below to find out other ways in which you may be able to give.