How Can I Give
Categories: Pastor Dave's eNote
“Each should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
2 Corinthians 9:7
First – be sure to set your clocks back this Saturday night. You get an extra hour of sleep and I pray God fills it with good dreams!
I was nine years old when I discovered the joy of giving. My mom and her boyfriend gave me $20 to take my brother and two sisters to Henry’s Hamburgers for a Saturday afternoon lunch. Henry’s was a lot like McDonalds and it was just five doors away. The Davis kids were regulars at Henry’s. We ordered hamburgers, fries, shakes, apple pies and I had a small coffee. In the corner, we noticed a poor man sitting by himself with just a coffee. He kept looking over at the food overflowing from our trays. We didn’t attend church at all as a family. We didn’t know anything of God. Yet, this voice within me prompted me to share. I took a hamburger, some fries and an apple pie and offered it to him. At first he resisted, then a tear came to his eye and he said, “I haven’t eaten in two days.” I went to the counter and spent all the money I had buying more for him. While it was winter in Buffalo I experienced a warmth I could not explain. I know now, when we give we give out of who we are, not just what we have.
The decision to give comes from a heart that has decided other things in advance. Over the last couple of weeks, we have been looking at what it means to live generously. The Bible calls us to generosity in all we do and in all we are. Whether it is with our time, talents, resources or even our hearts, we are called to give.
Generosity is a character trait of God. Moses, the writer of Deuteronomy, reminds us, “Remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.” Deuteronomy 8:18. John, the writer of the forth Gospel, shared, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16. God is a giving God and when we give we are being like Him.
Before I give, other decisions have to be made. The first decision is about motive. Why do I give? Often, I give out of gratitude because I’m thankful for what God has given me. Sometimes, I give out of obedience because God has instructed me to give. At times, I give because I share a vision of the world with the church or an organization. There are times when I give simply out of love. When I give, I take a moment to think about why I am giving.
Before I give, I have to decide what I am giving. Personally, for me, the tithe is the cornerstone of all my giving. Leviticus 27, Deuteronomy 14 and Micah 3 all instruct God’s people to tithe. In fact, there is a long list of scriptures that teach us one of the ways we trust God is by obeying His command to give. So when I am asked to give to causes and things that tug at my heart, I ask myself where I am with my tithe. Second, when asked for donations of time and money above the tithe, I ask myself, “Is God really calling me to give this?” It is an important question because it’s too easy to give out of guilt, obligation or even because we want someone to leave us alone.
Last, I have to decide how I will give. I remember as a young boy staying with my Uncle Hank. On Saturday night, he would prepare our envelopes for church in the morning. He would put two quarters or a dollar in the envelope and instruct us to put the offering in the basket when it was passed during the service.
When I first started in ministry, most people gave cash weekly and some wrote checks monthly. Our daughter Georgia is one of the few cash givers I know. After a while, monthly and weekly checks were the norm for a church offering. Some people just like to put something in the plate and bringing an offering to church makes worship more meaningful. You would be surprised how many people write checks every week.
Lately, more and more people use their banks to automatic bill pay and their offering to God comes in the mail. In fact, the number of people doing this has grown tremendously in the last year. One member shared with me, “Using bill pay allows me to give to God first. It is the first check I send every month. Also, it allows me to travel when I need to. I know my church counts on my gifts to God and I value my church.”
With the new website, we have seen growth in the number of people who are using their credit or debit cards. Some people object to the “processing” cost of using online giving but the truth is that processing checks is just as expensive because it is labor intensive. The advantage of online giving through the “MY HMUMC” login is your gift is automatically posted to your giving statement.
Last, we have a growing number of people who give out of a tax advantage account associated with their investment house. While Barbie Marrero, our Director of Church Finance can explain this better, some people give appreciated stock to the church and avoid the capital gains tax.
Most importantly, when it comes to how you give, you should give joyfully and prayerfully. There is no substitute for praying your way through a giving decision. It is a great opportunity to talk with God and to hear God’s leading in your life.
Through your giving God changes lives. His chosen instrument in the world is the local church. When the church is fully surrendered to God, there is nothing more beautiful and powerful in the world.
Today, I give once a month to the church. Every day, I find there are moments to be generous with my time, talents, heart and resources. When I give, I still feel that warmth that I know now is the blessing of God.
Dr. David L. Davis