Giving is an act of charity. It may take the form of donating money for a worthy cause. Giving may also take the form of sacrificing our time, effort or energy for a worthy cause. It may further mean taking active part in cleaning our environment or providing free labour in development projects in our communities. Giving is an act of love.
Paul taught about Christian Giving in the Letters to the Philippians and the Corinthians.
Christian giving in the Letter to the Philippians: (Philippians 4:14-20) In his Letter to the Philippians, Paul taught about the virtues of Christian Giving. The letter was prompted by the donation of money he received from the Philippians while he was in prison in Rome. The Philippians sent the gifts through Epaphrodites. In showing his appreciation for this gesture, Paul commended the virtue of Giving to all Christians. His message is that all Christians must give for a worthy cause.
Paul wrote to commend them for their Christian Giving. He was grateful for the gift of money, and for their concern about him. He deeply appreciated the gift sent by Epaphrodites. Paul showed his appreciation by writing to thank them. Paul, in his own way, appealed to the Christians to give generously as the people of Macedonia had done to him. Paul said that every person would be rewarded according to his manner of Giving, and that God always help those who give generously.
Christian giving in the Letter to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 8:3-5; 9:6-15): The Church in Corinth had, in a previous arrangement with Paul, agreed to donate cash gifts to the Christians in Jerusalem who were facing starvation.
Paul used the example of the Churches in Macedonia (Philippi and Thessalonica) to urge the Corinthians to follow their good example. He said the Macedonian Churches donated freely and willingly. Some gave according to their means and others beyond their means, and the Corinthians should emulate their good example.
Paul also used the example of Jesus Christ to encourage the Corinthians to give generously. He said Jesus became a lowly being, giving up his heavenly glory so that by his poverty we might become rich:
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.”
In the same way, the Corinthian Christians could imitate Jesus by becoming poor for the sake of the Jerusalem Christians by giving generously so that they might become rich.
Finally, Paul advised the Corinthians to give generously because generosity benefits not only the one who is the receiver but also the giver:
“You will be enriched in everyway for your great generosity. ”
Hence, they must give plentifully so that they might be enriched plentifully. This is because he who gives little might be enriched in a little way but he who gives much might be enriched greatly. They should give cheerfully because God loves a cheerful giver.
The Significance of Paul’s teaching on Christian Giving: By extolling the virtues of Christian Giving, Paul was in effect calling upon all Christians today to promote Church unity by manifesting a true sense of giving in their various communities. As Christians, we can do this in several ways. One way is to donate money to meet the needs of the underprivileged, the aged and the disabled in the society.
Another is by making financial contributions, like the purchase of poppies and so on, on Red Cross or Ex-Service Men’s Day or giving money to our Church or other Churches for the construction of a new one or the maintenance of the present Church and its premises.
Christian giving can also take the form of supporting the work of evangelism, especially to distant areas that have not yet received the Gospel. We may give in kind by rendering voluntary service to the Church; by helping to keep the premises clean especially the day before the Sunday service. We can also take part in cleaning our surroundings and giving free labour in the construction of social amenities for our communities.
In doing all this, Christian Giving will promote unity and co-operation among Christians no matter their denomination.