We like to begin our conversation on giving with identity.
Looking to an example from the Old Testament, we see David address these very questions after collecting gifts to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem (from 1 Chronicles 29):
But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us!” 1 Chronicles 29:14
And from the New Testament, we understand the work of Jesus on the cross gave us a new identity as his sibling, God’s child and heir. And we received the gift of the Holy Spirit. We were set free from the law, including its instructions to give a tenth of our possessions away. See Galatians 3-4.
So, if the Lord doesn’t need anything from us because everything belongs to him, and if we are no longer under the law, why do we give?
For one reason, our hearts need re-centering. While we trust in his provision, strive to be grateful for and generous with his gifts, and acknowledge our role as managers of all he has entrusted to us (not just money!), this sanity is often slippery and hard to hold onto. Our hearts love to wrap themselves around other promises of security, comfort, ones that can’t deliver. 1 Timothy 6:6-10 tells us, and we well know, that money is one of the major heart magnets. Paul describes it here as the root of all kinds of evil.
Generous giving is an incredible way to re-center our hearts with the knowledge that “my” stuff isn’t really mine; it belongs to the Lord who meets all of my needs through HIS riches (see Philippians 4:19). We help our hearts acknowledge this by giving a portion of “our” stuff away (again, not just money!).
We use money (it serves us, not the other way around) to disown our insanity and return to a functional understanding of who the Lord is, and who we are. We allow the Spirit to lead us. 2 Corinthians 9:7 instructs us to give cheerfully what we have decided in our hearts to give, not reluctantly or out of compulsion.
Our hope is that each of us would spend time with the Spirit on this topic, allowing him to lead us into intentional giving. To avoid the temptation toward reluctance or compulsion, along with many other reasons, we do not pass a plate at Midtown.