Money and Generosity
A regular article written by Phillip Jensen in his role as Dean of Sydney at St Andrew's Cathedral.
2nd August 2006
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Generosity lies at the heart of the gospel. It is called “the gospel of grace”. God in his generosity gave his one and only son that we who were his enemies may find forgiveness of sins and eternal life. The most famous verse in the Bible emphasises this aspect of the gospel “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…”
This grace of God is not limited to God the Father. The Son himself is of the same gracious nature. He gave himself for our sins. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”
Extraordinary as the giving of the Son for our salvation is, it is not the end of God’s generosity. He continues to give us the gifts of his kindness to establish and build us into his people. For God the Father, Son and Spirit have given us gifts to serve each other (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4).
This generosity of God stimulates in us two responses. Firstly thanksgiving. We are not to be grumblers. Nor are we to be covetous. We are to learn contentment. For our Lord provides all good things for our needs. He enables us to abound and to be abased. We need to learn that we can do all things through him. So we should always, for all things, give thanks to God for his wonderful provisions. We are not to be anxious about anything but in everything we are to make our requests to God with thanksgiving (Phil 4:6)
The second response that God’s generosity stimulates is to imitate God in his generosity. If God so loved us we ought to love one another. We who are the recipients of God’s generosity cannot realistically refuse to be generous to others.
“God loves a cheerful giver” says the Bible. For God is himself the cheerful giver. Genuine cheerfulness will mean giving “not reluctantly or under compulsion”. Rather “each one is to give as he has made up his mind”. (2 Corinthians 9:7)
God will graciously supply us with all the ability to be generous. And our generosity will lead to even greater thanksgiving to God.
To help us grow in the spirit of giving, the cathedral provides several ways in which we can give. In the coming weeks we will suggest some special additional projects to which individuals may wish to direct their giving.
The preferred ways of giving are electronically or by the offertory envelopes. Both these ways preserve anonymity and assists us to “make up our mind” about giving as the scripture teaches. They help keep us consistent in our giving so that we do not fall behind.
Electronic giving has the added advantages of consistency when we are away through sickness or holidays. We only need to think through the issue a couple of times a year as we adjust our level of giving. It helps the Cathedral congregation as it saves on the volunteers’ time and safety in counting and banking the offertories.
Envelopes protect our privacy, as we are able to contribute money without others seeing how much we contribute. This helps both those who are embarrassed about giving large amounts and those who are embarrassed that they are only able to contribute a modest amount.
Spiritually, the amount given is unimportant. Generosity is a matter of sacrifice not size. The widow’s mite is the classic Biblical teaching on this issue (Matthew 12:41f). We often rightly draw the important lesson that even those without much wealth contribute generously when they give. We need to draw the other conclusion that that those of us who have money must give substantially if we are to be as generous as the widow.
Our chief concern is not the amount of money that anybody gives but the spirit of generosity with which it is given. For understanding the gospel of Grace produces generous giving.
At the North and West doors of the Cathedral there are the forms for electronic giving and packets of offertory envelopes available.