Part of the inherited culture of giving in our churches means that we often don’t talk about giving from this angle. Instead, we use phrases such as ‘taking the collection’, or ‘paying the bills’ – language which lends itself more to a transactional lens. But our generosity towards God and the church is invited to be nothing like this at all – our giving is a gift, an offering, and a blessing. What might happen if we started using language like this when we talk about generosity? Think back to the psychology – the greatest joy of giving is not in those done under compulsion or transaction, but in those gifts which are given freely.
But this on its own is not the end point of our giving, we must look a bit further. Paul goes on to write,
God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. You will be enriched in every way for your generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us.
2 Corinthians 9.8,11
This is where Paul really hits the nail on the head. Our act of giving is only the middle part of the equation – God gives to us first, all we are and all we have is God’s in the first place, so that we may use those blessings to bless others. And so all that we do to serve, care for, and love – when grounded in faith – are blessings we share with others. And those blessings can then in turn be used to bless other people, whilst God still provides us with enough to continue blessing the community in which we are set. The joy of giving is in seeing the ripple effect of God’s blessing in our communities. Actions which, with humility, point beyond themselves to produce thanksgiving to God – actions that reveal God’s glory to the world.
This is what we need to be focusing on when we talk about giving in our churches. We need to share and communicate the end point in all that we are, do are share. The act of giving is an expression of our faith and love of God – and the outcome is that it enables mission, which in turn enables people to encounter God’s love, enables us to be Christ in the world, and enables the Church to grow.
So how do we encounter joy in our giving? By seeing all we are and all we have as gifts we can’t wait to give.
help us to see the joy
in all that we give,
that our giving may be a blessing
to you and to those around us,
and reveal your glory in the world.