Offerings for Jesus
There are several rationales for giving, explains Dr. Lloyd Thomas, but they really come from two main motivations: giving as a form of manipulation, or giving from a genuine, caring heart.
The manipulative giver gives in order to get. There is an expectation of a reward as a result of their gifts—sometimes it’s a material reward, but at other times it’s psychological (love, loyalty, a sense of self-worth, etc.).
Some are motivated by money, such as a caring professional whose only reason for entering the vocation is to earn a living. They are susceptible to feeling a lack of true purpose, and are often in danger of burn out. Others are people pleasers; they give to influence how others think of them. In these cases, they can find themselves endlessly chasing an elusive sense of well-being. They can give until they are drained, never really reaching their goal.
Those who give from a genuine caring nature often receive the rewards as a natural result of their actions. They don’t seek approval or compensation, but the reward of being a genuinely generous person can be that sense of well-being that the manipulative giver never fully realizes.
The Apostle Paul understood this biblical principle. He instructed us in 2 Corinthians 9:7 that we should give whatever we are genuinely motivated to share, because God loves a cheerful giver. Cheerful givers are only motivated by their love for Jesus, and their acts of giving are the reward in themselves.
God never coerces anyone. That is the basis of our understanding of religious freedom. Satan may compel through pressure and intimidation, but God gives us the freedom to choose our own course in life. That is especially true when it comes to free-will offerings. The irony in the difference between those who give to get, and those who give out of their love for Jesus, is that the free-will giver often receives what the manipulative giver wants, but can never have.
Connecting: How accurate are your manipulation sensors? Can you always tell when someone is working you? What do you do when your manipulation alarms go off?
Sharing: Acts 20:35 says that it is “more blessed to give than to receive.” How can that be true?
- Even if I don’t receive blessings in this life, God will reward me in the kingdom
- The sense of well-being I receive from giving is greater than any material reward
- That’s nonsense—if you only give and never receive, you’ll end up with nothing
- Jesus has given so many blessings to me already, I can never give enough in return
- That’s great in theory, but not always true in practice
Applying: Do you know where your offerings go? Ask your church treasurer for a copy of your local church budget. Review this with your class or a group of friends. Are there any adjustments you would recommend to your church board? Plan to make your suggestions at your next opportunity—a board meeting or church business meeting.
~ Chuck Burkeen