The Delight of Giving!

Many years ago, I remember promoting a special offering in our church to raise funds to build a modest educational stand-alone building. This would provide additional space for our young adult Bible study department. During the campaign leading up to the project, we utilized a giving chart, printed on five by seven card stock, that included an appeal letter in the mailing. This is a common approach used by many churches for short and long-term fund raising.

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One day while walking down the hallway at church, I was met by an exuberant custodian waving her campaign giving chart. She blurted out her gratitude, “Bro. Mike, thank you so much for telling us what to give!” I was taken aback by her compliment and quickly replied, “Minnie, I wasn’t trying to tell you how much to give. I was only giving you some ideas that if you gave this much over the next months that at the end of the year you would have given this sum total. I expect that you and Jimmy will pray about this and agree on the specific amount you plan to give.” She replied, “I know, but we needed to see this on paper! Thanks, again!” I’ve never forgotten that delightful encounter!

Many of us are visually oriented learners… even in our giving! A regular giving report or a fund raising chart gives us something concrete to think about when being challenged to give our resources to the Lord’s work. I like the use of such visual examples, especially when it comes to helping those who desire to grow in their generosity toward and even beyond the tithe (10%) of their income.

Where should we start if we want to become a believer who tithes his or her income? If you are not used to giving a percentage in regular systematic giving, it may seem daunting to go from your present offering amount to 3%! It can also seem challenging to grow in generosity from 5 to 10%.  Even seasoned givers will need incremental steps to move beyond tithing to 12, 15 or 20%! I am sure that most of us will need to make specific adjustments in our spending habits in order to make an increase in charitable giving percentages.

Aren’t you always amazed at what can be learned by taking a look at a checking/debit or credit card account statement? When I do this exercise, it helps me to immediately identify areas where confusion exists between “needs and wants!” We need to “check those wants” in order to make spending adjustments that enable greater growth in generosity!

That monthly accounting statement may just prompt cost-cutting measures like deciding to cook a delicious meal at home rather than buying one at a restaurant. Identifying ways to save may encourage us to shop at a second-hand store, make a sack lunch for work or a meeting, cut back on expensive gift-giving, or when possible, do household chores rather than out-source them.  These and other strategies to save money may identify discretionary funds that can be turned into tangible expressions of growing generosity.

I always like the way Eugene Peterson paints a vivid picture through a pallet of paraphrased words in the Bible. Here's what he writes about giving, “I want each of you to take plenty of time to think it over, and make up your own mind what you will give. That will protect you against sob stories and arm-twisting. God loves it when the giver delights in the giving. This most generous God... gives you something you can then give away... so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God.” (2 Corinthians 9:7-11, MSG).

Experience tells me there is a greater blessing awaiting us when we discover (or recover!) the delight of generous giving! Praise be to our generous God who gives and keeps on giving!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,
active churchman and
doting grandparent. 



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