Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Generosity is evidence of faith .................. Parables 415

April 5, 1994

A former major in the Canadian armed services shared how different his financial affairs became when his spiritual life changed. He said at one time, neither he or his wife were walking with God, even though they considered themselves Christians. During that time, no matter how hard they tried, they had trouble making their money last from payday to payday and were always in debt.

Eventually, a crisis turned them in a God-ward direction. After that happened, they became convinced they should be giving a portion of their income to the needy, toward missions, and to their church, yet it was impossible. How would they have enough money?

Nevertheless, they decided to be more generous. God would supply their needs. This man was happy to say it was not many years before they were completely out of debt and they had a substantial savings account besides.

The Bible teaches several things about money, especially our attitude towards it. Greed, selfishness, hoarding, and withholding from those in need is condemned. Instead, God wants His people to give generously to others and be wise managers of what is left.

The Bible also teaches that the more a person’s life is given to obey God and do His will, the more generous that person becomes. In fact, it says faith can be measured by generosity: “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical need, what good is it?”

A common concept among those who do not go to church is that all a church wants from people is their money. That might be true for some but it certainly is not true for all congregations, nor is it biblical. Almost every church I have ever attended took an offering, had a budget, and gave out tax receipts simply because there are expenses involved in managing a local church, but their focus was never on money but on needs.

Even in our wealthy country, there are needy people. In Edmonton alone, there are homeless, hungry, and helpless folks who freeze in the winter, eat from garbage dumpsters, and must be cared for by others more fortunate.

Some criticize the church for lack of social action without realizing that even the simplest help given comes with a price tag. If the people who attend socially-involved churches do not give generously (both time and money) who can be helped?

Jesus stood with His disciples watching people give. Some were wealthy and gave great sums. One was a widow who only had two coins. She gave both of them. Jesus commended her rather than those who had lots and gave only a portion. She gave all she had.

Paul said, “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Because God is interested in the reason we give, no one should be forced to give, or sent on a guilt-trip if they cannot.

The Bible teaches that God wants us to know Him, to know He is generous and will take care of us. When we have faith in Him, we are set free to help others without worrying about ourselves. He says, “You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and... your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”

The person who trusts God still has a responsibility to know where their money goes, but when we do trust Him, He will make sure we have enough.

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