Friday, June 29Scripture Reading—II Corinthians 8:1-9
I have mixed feelings about fund raising letters, maybe you do, too. Some of them try too hard to communicate excitement about the cause for which funds are sought, making them seem insincere. Others subtly apply peer pressure. You certainly don’t want your name left off the list of the donors’ roll for your college or favorite non-profit. You can just hear your friends talking about why your name’s not listed. And sometimes, you may feel like, because of circumstances in your life, you’re just not able to give. That leaves you feeling guilty. Besides being a preacher, teacher, organizer, and tentmaker, Paul was a fundraiser. Paul feels especially obligated to carry through with the collection of money for the saints in Jerusalem, many of whom were probably in great need. At the Jerusalem conference (see the letter to the Galatians) Paul was asked to defend his work among the Gentiles in front of other leaders who had thought that the first step into the Christian community involved the faithful practice of Jewish rituals like circumcision. The conference agreed that all these things were cumbersome barriers and asked Paul to remember the Christians in Jerusalem as he travelled the world reaching out to non-Jews. Paul agreed. He and Titus are determined to raise a significant amount of money to assist the Christians in Jerusalem. So, in Paul’s fundraising letter, like any skilled development officer, he reminds the Corinthians of the generosity of other donors, many of whom themselves were in great need. He reminds them of the great need they are called on to help meet. He tells them of his hope that they will prove themselves to be generous people. But the greatest motivation for giving is not what the fundraiser or peers will think, or even the needs that will be served. Rather, it is the fact that God has so generously given us grace in Jesus Christ—a gift we could neither earn or deserve. We give for many reasons—but at the heart of our best giving is a simple, sincere response of gratitude for all God has done for us. I can’t help but believe that a church filled with grateful people will be able to find the resources it needs to be a blessing to people in need!
Thought for the day: We give for many reasons, but our best giving is always motivated by sincere gratitude!
Prayer: O God, thank you for all you have done for me and for the world in Jesus. Help me to advance the cause of your kingdom through faithful giving, not just from duty, obligation, or a desire for recognition. Let my generosity arise from genuine gratitude. Amen