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)
In this verse we give out of thanks for who God is, without expecting or demanding to get anything back. This is different from the teaching that says, “If you give to this ministry then God will pay you back much much more money than you gave — guaranteed!”
In truth, our good God may graciously give even more back than we gave but he is good whether or not he does that. Our God isn’t a heavenly ATM machine and does not give an ironclad guarantee to make us whole like FDIC deposit insurance does!
What is a cheerful giver like? The cheerful giver donates without being cajoled or manipulated. At our church we call this grace giving. Free grace giving gets rid of the transactional quid pro quo that often creeps into teaching on giving.
A couple of years ago we had a guest speaker at our church who took a collection. His cause was good, but I disagreed when he said, “Forget about what you planned to give — now give what God wants you to give!” But wait a minute — if someone has prayed and decided in their heart what to give, aren’t they a cheerful giver before God? Isn’t it a form of manipulative compulsion to say that the amount someone decided was bogus because it was too low? What good is it if someone gives some more because they were made to feel guilty ?
Cheerful giving gets rid of the fear of “What happens if I don’t give enough?” Some claim that it is mandatory to give at least 10% of your income to the church and they drag in some Old Testament verses to say that if you don’t give that percent then you are “robbing God.” How different that sounds from the grace shown in today’s opening verse!
Ironically, people in my church end up giving more over the long term because we are not being cajoled, frightened and bullied into giving more! Indeed, as we grow in Christ, we have less acquisitive lives. Note that we are not told to never spend a penny on our own pleasures but rather we see that the drive to strive to get more and more to spend on our own pleasures is toned down. As that happens, we simultaneously richly enjoy God’s provision for our own needs andwe cheerfully set aside a sizable chunk to give for the Lord’s work.
One thought on “Mandatory donations?”
what if… we just “stopped giving” to “religious organizations”?
hmmmm.. we might just “owe no man anything” and, instead, just start loving people… communicating with them… building relationships… sharing life… lots of wonderful things.
hmmmm,,,, we might even be able to pay all our bills the minute they come in… never pay any interest ever again…. not think it is ok to go ‘personally bankrupt’ because I have so much debt…. never give a donation on a credit card ever again… never buy anything that I cannot pay for in full…. and on and on… that is a freedom the Lord will give us that, unfortunately, not many of us have yet experienced.
I never made more doing anything in my 84 years than I did when I was in the “religion business”… felt guilty all the time for “stealing from God’s people”… kept trying to push it away and give it to others… I am so thankful that the Lord finally wrote “Ichabod” over the whole thing.
Happy to chat with anyone about this… any time…. it really helps to stop living in the Old Testament… and start “living and moving and having our life… IN HM”… not in some religious system…
if you like, you can reach me at: firstname.lastname@example.org