Below is a sermon I shared on generosity. I touch on this debate and show how the practice of generosity knows no limits.
The apostle Paul was eager to see the Corinthians practice generosity.
There was a need to build a bridge between Gentile and Jewish Christians, and there was a need to give a gift that would help those who were struggling.
What we see as the problem of scarcity God sees as an opportunity to supply in abundance (II Cor. 9: 12).
That’s the spiritual principle the apostle Paul wants the Corinthians to understand: God is not a miser: rather, God is the Lord of life whose grace overflows – all the time, in all places – always giving.
It’s a point Paul makes to the Galatians when he talks about the Spirit bringing about an inward change that produces fruit like generosity, joy, goodness, love (Gal. 5:22-23).
As some of you know I try to do a great deal of reading, and lately, I have been following a debate about giving and tithing.
But given that roughly 7% of Christians in this country practice tithing I am going to assume that there is always more we all can give!/5/
I am going to I assume, with the apostle Paul, that there is no limit to what we can give, that we cannot out-give God.
In fact, I am going to assume that a generous person, convicted by the Spirit, will always try to give all he or she can – to whom he or she can, in all the places he or she can, in all the ways he or she can, at all the times he or she can, as long as he or she ever can!
The Skinny of Tithing
Therefore, the question we need to ask is, “Are we truly being generous with all that God has given us? In what ways are we being a blessing to others?”
In the past, we have spoken about being a church that demonstrates “extravagant generosity.”/6/ We have spoken about how giving extravagantly is the way to attain a wonderful, richer life.
I know as a pastor I have never known a giver who was not somehow blessed or better off for it in every way. Have you?
Now, as God as my witness, I will not stand here and tell you that giving to God will automatically and instantly bring you health and wealth. That’s a different gospel
But I will stand here and tell you that God’s promises are true: that what we reap what we sow – and that those who sow sparingly will reap sparingly (II Cor. 9:6).
And I will stand here and tell you that our God is a giving God and that what God supplies is far greater than what we can ever ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20).
And I will stand here and tell you that God does love “cheerful givers” – “cheerful congregations” – those who give freely and willingly to Christ’s work.
I will stand on those promises! And I will share with a grateful heart what I know: that our God is able to make all grace abound in our lives and that because of this grace we can give in ways that we didn’t think possible!
O Church of Christ: Thanks be to God for this indescribable gift of grace (II Cor. 9:16).
1. See James D. Quiggle, Why Christians Should Not Tithe: A History of Tithing and Biblical Paradigm for Christian Giving (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishing, 2009), p. 87.
2. Ibid., p. 147.
3. See James D. Quiggle, Why Christians Should Not Tithe (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishing, 2009), B. Ann Nichols, Tithes: The Exhortion of the Body of Christ (Mustang, OK: Tate Publishing & Enterprises, 2006), and Russell Earl Kelly, Should the Church Teach Tithing: A Theologian’s Conclusions about a Taboo Doctrine (Writers Club Press: New York: 2007).
4. See James D. Quiggle, p. vii.
5. See the Barna Report: “New Study Shows Trends in Tithing and Giving” (April 13, 2008). Go to www.barna.org.
6. Robert Schnase, Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2005).