Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A willing Gift, not an exaction

2 Cor. 9:1-5 (ESV)
Now it is superfluous for me to write to you about the ministry for the saints, [2] for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the people of Macedonia, saying that Achaia has been ready since last year. And your zeal has stirred up most of them. [3] But I am sending the brothers so that our boasting about you may not prove vain in this matter, so that you may be ready, as I said you would be. [4] Otherwise, if some Macedonians come with me and find that you are not ready, we would be humiliated—to say nothing of you—for being so confident. [5] So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift you have promised, so that it may be ready as a willing gift, not as an exaction.

Paul continues his discourse on giving. He is careful though, the idea is that the contributions should be a willing gift not an exaction. People should not be guilted into giving. Manipulations have no place in the giving to the church and to God. In my day I have seen plenty of gimmicks used to extract and exact money from faithful sheep. Sometimes I really have some misgivings about capital campaigns and the industry that has grown up to raise funds for a church. On some level I do believe that these are somewhat necessary. I haven’t ever used them. I have seen there sales pitches to pastors. It just doesn’t seem right to me. These people are good at discerning how much money a person makes, and what they might be able to give to the church. They get a rush out of million dollar gifts. I suppose I would too. But I sometimes wonder if there isn’t undue pressure applied. In the back of my head I picture Guido standing over them as they write the check. I would much rather see people discerning on their own how much they can give to a cause, and working out a steady and consistent plan of giving. Rather than being pressured into a onetime super gift, to be held out and touted to the rest of the people who can’t give as much, but do give from their hearts what they can.

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