Showing posts with label Giving. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Giving. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

What Does Your Proof Text Prove? (30)

Refunds generated by charitable donations documented on tax returns have always been a source of disagreement between believers. The churches I attended growing up were so determined to do their giving on the sly that they practiced something informally referred to as the “brethren handshake”, in which a little envelope full of cash was passed from hand to hand under cover of the traditional greeting.

It wasn’t as hard to detect as they thought, but you have to give them points for trying.

Monday, September 04, 2023

Anonymous Asks (265)

“Should Christians give out of their gross or net income?”

In my twenties when the Lord got hold of me, I was for a time the spiritual equivalent of a fire-breathing dragon. I was VERY gung-ho about the things of God. Sometimes that was a good thing. Other times I was way too dogmatic about truth I had yet to live out and about areas of experience in which I had yet to be tested.

If you had asked me today’s question every year of my twenties, I would’ve answered “gross income” every time. Today, not so much.

Monday, January 09, 2023

Anonymous Asks (231)

“How can I become a more cheerful giver?”

Paul wrote that God loves cheerful givers. A quick look at the context shows he is using “cheerful” to mean the opposite of “reluctant” or “under coercion”. Giving, then, should be enthusiastic and voluntary, rather than induced by external or internal pressures like guilt or duty.

Have you managed that every time you’ve given to the Lord? Me neither. And yet it’s obviously the most desirable state to be in, and something worth working on.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Anonymous Asks (215)

“Can I stop tithing temporarily while paying off a debt?”

Tithing is a command first codified in the Law of Moses, though the concept of giving a tenth of everything you receive existed prior to the giving of the law. But Christians are not under law. At best, giving a tenth to God may be viewed as a guideline. What the Lord expected from Israel in times past serves as a useful starting point for Christian giving, though giving a tenth certainly does not exhaust the believer’s opportunity to serve the Lord by way of financial generosity.

It’s probably better not to think of it as “tithing” at all, but rather as an expression of our love for God.

Friday, April 01, 2022

Too Hot to Handle: What Doesn’t Kell You...

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Modern attention spans are what they are. We try to keep these posts to roughly 2,000 words; conventional internet wisdom has it the average person begins to tune out around then. But there were at least three points we didn’t get around to last week in our discussion of the accusation raised by Tim Keller that the traditional evangelical fundraising model is systemically racist.

Tom: IC, I wanted to start out with this thought: Tim Keller is using woke language and making typical social justice assumptions about his fellow believers, but I don’t want to leave the subject without pointing out the there is nothing wrong with self-examination on the part of Christians, churches, and parachurch organizations.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Too Hot to Handle: What Gives?

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Once again, Christianity Today has the sort of article everybody who serves the Lord Jesus and loves the Body of Christ should be reading and thinking about. I don’t agree with everything they have to say by a long shot, but they regularly provide a starting point for serious discussion of major evangelical issues. Kudos to them for that.

Tom: In this particular piece they’re talking about missions and what makes that whole thing tick. Immanuel Can, did you find anything CT had to say interesting?

Immanuel Can: Oh, plenty. This is something I know a fair bit about.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

The Grace of Receiving

It is undoubtedly more blessed to give than to receive — I know, I didn’t exactly come to that conclusion on my own — but I suspect it may also be easier, at least for Christians.

When we become children of God, we receive a new nature like that of God himself. Paul urges the Ephesian believers to “put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness”.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Metaphorical Mites

You remember the widow, right?

I know, I know, there are more than a few widows in the Bible. I mean the one at the temple in Jerusalem in the gospels. The Lord remarked on the gift she deposited in the temple treasury. He specifically drew the attention of his disciples to it when he said that she put in “more than all those who are contributing.”

If you only read Luke you might be forgiven for thinking this incident occurred at random, but Mark makes it clear that the Lord “sat down … and watched the people putting money into the offering box.” That may seem an odd way to occupy your time, but I think he was waiting for a certain poor widow to come along.

So her two mites matter, and maybe not only for the reasons you might think.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The Purpose of the Sacrifices [Part 4]

Continuing an examination of the sacrifices of the Old Testament. We started with what the sacrifices WERE NOT.

In my last post I pointed out what should be obvious to any evangelical Christian or cursory reader of the book of Hebrews: that the Old Testament sacrificial system neither disposed once-and-for-all with the question of sin from God’s perspective, nor did it clear the conscience of the worshipers.

So what WERE the sacrifices for then?

Sunday, February 18, 2018

On the Mount (18)

Back in 2013, Republican congressman Jeff Duncan toured a Department of Homeland Security training facility in Maryland and observed eight or nine IRS agents engaged in target practice with semi-automatic Colt rifles. It later occurred to him to ask, “Why do IRS law enforcement agents need standoff capability that you would have with a long rifle or with a weapon similar to an AR-15?”

Good question, but it goes to the basic nature of taxation.

Taxation is not “giving”.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Spam for the Clergy

Ooh look, a free e-book!

I generally ignore spam in my inbox, but this is graphically well-packaged spam disguised as free Christian reading sent to a guy who takes his best shot at posting five times a week, so why not? It’s entitled Toxic Leadership: 5 People Churches Should Never Hire, and it purports to offer evangelical clergymen their chance to avoid one or more of those “fatal church hiring mistakes”.

Who could pass that up?

Also, I love the word “toxic” ...

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Problems You Can’t Fix

The rich get a bad rap sometimes. But they also have their defenders.

A few years ago in Forbes, John Stossel pointed out that the big-money folk in America don’t have enough spare change between them to put a dent in the financial woes of their own country, let alone the rest of the world.

“If the IRS grabbed 100 percent of income over $1 million, the take would be just $616 billion. That’s only a third of this year’s deficit.”

The finer details of Stossel’s math might be debated, but all the same he’s got a point, and one that won’t go away. Some problems can’t be fixed — at least not by human beings.

Monday, December 05, 2016

The Commentariat Speaks (6)

“Socialism is basically Christianity without the divine power. Socialism is man’s attempt to bring utopia to reality.”

Uh ... not really. I mean, yes on the utopian bit, no on the comparison to Christianity.

It’s not just the absence of divine power, though that’s certainly one reason socialism reliably fails. As Margaret Thatcher noted, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Someone Else’s Stuff

Erick Erickson wants to give away your stuff. [Caution: language in linked post]

Technically, I suppose, he wants YOU to give it away. But he would also like you to give away your wife’s stuff, your neighbour’s stuff, your co-worker’s stuff and your children’s and grandchildren’s stuff. So it amounts to the same thing, right?

As a Christian, I have to draw the line at such extravagant generosity.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Your Alms Have Ascended

The things you do for me stand a good chance of being forgotten.

I may not appreciate them the way I should. That Christmas sweater was a little too red and a little too heavy for me, so I never wore it. The gift card was for a shop I never go to, and it’s still sitting on my shelf. The DVD was something I already had, but I didn’t want to mention it.

I didn’t need what you gave me, so I said a quick thank you and forgot about you.


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Flirting with Fatalism

I read a column this morning by popular Christian blogger Ben Corey in which he makes a spirited defense of his support for government programs to help the poor on the basis that Christians simply don’t given enough voluntarily to make a meaningful dent in poverty.

It’s an interesting argument, but it begs one obvious question.

What do we do when the poor can’t be helped?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Metaphorical Mites

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Purpose of the Sacrifices [Part 4]

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Your Father Who Is In Secret

It takes courage to stand up and pray in public if you’re shy by nature, but only a little more than must be mustered to spill your guts on Facebook or Twitter. And judging by the number of people doing that, it must feel pretty good. If you’re the type of person who by nature loves to be the centre of attention, it doesn’t take any courage at all to pray in public. It’s like swimming to a duck.

It certainly doesn’t require faith.

It doesn’t take faith to attend church meetings or to put money in an offering box. These things may be done for right reasons or wrong reasons. Church, or even giving, can be a habit, a social event, a way of feeling good about oneself, a duty or an obligation imposed by family. Such acts are done visibly and because of that, there are other possible benefits than rewards of a spiritual kind.

They don’t require faith