What if – instead of concentrating on what to give up or deny myself during Lent – I would concentrate on what I give during Lent?
My “Lent program” hasn’t worked for various reasons. I realize it was all about me. I totally missed the point of Lent this year.
In my study of Apostle Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church I found two chapters on giving. The words in chapters eight and nine opened my eyes to the wrong path I was on this Lenten season. I decided to switch gears and concentrate on giving instead.
Here is the beauty about giving:
- Someone is praying during their time of need. I can be the answer to that prayer if I follow God’s calling to give.
- There was a time in my life where I was on the receiving end. Today I am giving because I received. Just as St. Paul points out to the church in Corinth: the Jerusalem church is in trouble, they need help. One day the church in Corinth might need help, and the Jerusalem church will be there to give out of their abundance.
- But I can also give forward if I have not experienced a time of need. I don’t know what will happen in a year or two or ten. Since I’m in a position to give today, why not answer a person’s prayer and be generous.
- Giving creates community. Giving in community creates a shared purpose and focus. We are connected through the act of giving.
- The receivers will “joyfully express their thanks to God.” (9:12) In addition, “they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you.” (9:14) As a church we have sponsored and helped churches in Cuba, and a week ago a team returned from Nicaragua where they worked on a school expansion project. We have heard from people receiving the gifts how they thanked God for it, and how passionately they prayed for our church.
- “God is the one who provides…” (9:10) When I believe that all I have comes ultimately from Him, I know it’s not for my sole benefit, but to share with others.
- There is God’s promise of provision in Psalm 112: “Good comes to those who lend money generously and conduct their business fairly… They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the LORD to take care for them… They share freely and give generously to those in need.”
If you don’t have a project to give to right now, may I suggest one? Suzie Eller and the Living Free Together Team have joined with Mission India to provide literacy classes for women. Click here for more info and how to give.
If you have time and would like to read what St. Paul writes to the church in Corinth in chapter 8, here it is (New Living Translation):
6 So we have urged Titus, who encouraged your giving in the first place, to return to you and encourage you to finish this ministry of giving.7 Since you excel in so many ways—in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us—I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving.
8 I am not commanding you to do this. But I am testing how genuine your love is by comparing it with the eagerness of the other churches.
9 You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.
10 Here is my advice: It would be good for you to finish what you started a year ago. Last year you were the first who wanted to give, and you were the first to begin doing it. 11 Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have. 12 Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have. 13 Of course, I don’t mean your giving should make life easy for others and hard for yourselves. I only mean that there should be some equality. 14 Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it. In this way, things will be equal.
And in chapter 9:
8 And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. 9 As the Scriptures say,
“They share freely and give generously to the poor.
Their good deeds will be remembered forever.”
10 For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.
11 Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. 12 So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.
13 As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. 14 And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you.15 Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!