Giving is an important aspect of Christian living. It doesn't take a lot of reflection to realize how richly blessed we are by God through Jesus Christ. Peter tells us "that his divine power hath granted unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness" (2 Pet. 1:3). James reminds us, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning" (James 1:17). We can trust God to provide what is good and necessary for our existence today and eternally.

Paul reminded the Christians of the church at Corinth, "Let each man do according as he hath purposed in his heart: not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver" (2 Cor. 9:7). In offering this reminder to them, he tells us giving isn't just a matter of how blessed or prospered we are (1 Cor. 16:2), but of one's attitude as well, the kind of heart one has. We are to purpose in our hearts, to give with joy knowing the love God has for us and that he provides for us. It reflects a flawed understanding of both God and the material prosperity we have from him, not to want to be a blessing to others and to the Lord's work.

This is seen at times in how people view contributing to the local congregation and its work, and the opportunities each may have for helping other's needs individually. For example, some may help a person, or a family, or give to what may be a worthy cause (what may be called almsgiving), and think by doing so they have fulfilled any responsibility to contribute to the congregation they have identified with. Others feel by contributing to the congregation they are part of, they have fulfilled any responsibility they may have to specific needs they know of personally. The truth is, it's not either/or, but and/both.

Of course we should give to the work of the church, where the needy can be helped, where evangelism and mission efforts can be supported, and the work of the church continue in helping others obey the gospel and live the Christian life. We remember Barnabas sold a field of land he owned, and took the money to the apostles, for them to distribute on behalf of the church as was needed. How can the church function without the liberality of people who possess his spirit? On the other hand, we may have unique opportunities to help others personally, in addition to what the church can do. Using the singular, which I believe speaks of our individual responsibility, John writes, "But whoso hath the world's goods, and beholdeth his brother in need, and shutteth up his compassion from him, how doth the love of God abide in him?" (1 John 3:17).

 We can give in both ways and still enjoy the rich blessings God provides for us. It's a matter of one's attitude, of one's heart. We may have a little less of this world's goods, but nothing we can't live without, and in their place have treasure in heaven (Matt. 6:19-21). God told Abraham that not only would he bless him, but that he also was to be a blessing (Gen. 12:2). May we show our love of God by having the same kind of heart.        


Robert Johnson, Longview TX