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Give As We Receive

The traditional elements of most Christian communities - facilities, programs, staff - exist because of the giving of the members. Unless a church has significant endowments (and those are curses more often than they are blessings) it is the generosity of members that drive the mission Yet our giving, and the general appeal for giving far too often fail the test of Scripture. In the Bible, giving of our wealth (financial or material) is an act of thanksgiving in which we acknowledge that God is the author of all things, up to and including our abilities and opportunities to create wealth. In the Bible, the amount of giving was inextricably tied to the amount of God’s abundance. In years of plenty the offerings reflected that plenty. In years of scarcity, the offerings reflected that scarcity.As the people received from God, so they gave to God through their offerings at the Tabernacle (and later the Temple). These offerings not only supported the communal worship of the God of Israel, and thus also the priests and Levites who were responsible for that worship, the also supported the social safety net for the widowed the poor and the alien (immigrant).

Each act of giving was a reminder that the God of Israel was the source of their land and of the whole of creation that provided food from the earth. Each act of our giving is to follow the same pattern. Giving is not a fund-raising exercise, it is a thanksgiving exercise. Tying it into what we have received turns giving into a spiritual discipline.

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