Four years ago a proudly Jewish group called “92nd Street Y” started a movement to counteract or compliment, I’m not sure which, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It’s called Giving Tuesday. It is celebrated on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving, and it encourages generous giving to non-profits in order to make this world a better place.
Honestly, I have mixed feelings about creating these special days and leveraging them to get people to give. The good point about this one is clear. Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become entrenched in our American holiday spending culture. Isn’t it a positive development to enshrine giving as a holiday tradition? Isn’t an emphasis on giving more important than an emphasis on spending?
At Crosswalk we have been blessed by followers of Jesus who are generous givers. As you see the construction work being done on our campus it’s all because people gave to support our STEPPING FORWARD initiative to end our debt (done!), staff ourselves for the future (done!), and improve our campus (happening!). Once again, a very special “thank you” to all who have participated in STEPPING FORWARD!
The Bible has many teachings on the importance of being generous, but here are 5 things Jesus specifically said about giving:
- The Lord Jesus expects his followers to be givers. Jesus said to His disciples, “when you give” not “if you give” (see Matthew 6:2)! Clearly Christian giving is not optional, but essential. He expected all His followers to be givers. So the first concern of Jesus would be, Are you giving?
- The Lord Jesus reminds us that our giving is ultimately to our heavenly Father. Jesus said “When you give . . . ; your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:3-4). When we give, we are not simply adding to the Church budget, we are giving up a thank offering to God the Father. Ultimately, our giving is always “as unto the Lord.” Our definitive goal in giving is to please God alone. Here’s another pertinent question to ask ourselves: Are you aware of the fact that your giving is to the Lord and seen by the Lord?
- The Lord Jesus teaches that the generosity of God’s blessings to us is connected to the generosity of our giving to him. We certainly are not to give for the primary motive of self-improvement (see #2 above). Nevertheless Jesus is clear that God sees our giving and will reward our giving. In Matthew 6:4 we are told to give in secret and that our Father who sees in secret will reward us. Even more to the point are the words of the Lord in Luke 6:38:“Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” Here’s a very real concern of Jesus: Are you aware of how much your heavenly Father wants to bless you? And are you aware that the channel for his blessing is your generosity?
- Giving does not excuse us from other Christian duties, such as pursuing social justice and the worship of God. Jesus said: “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others” (Luke 11:42). Here our Lord endorses the practice of tithing (giving 10% of one’s income), but warns that it doesn’t exempt us from living a life of righteousness. Elsewhere he says when we feed the hungry and visit those in prison, we are really feeding him and visiting him! Here’s a challenging concern of Jesus: Do you think either that your giving exempts you from serving or that your serving exempts you from giving? The Lord graciously disabuses us of both notions.
- The Lord makes this audacious claim – Giving is better than receiving! There are several other things Jesus said about giving. He taught about giving more than any other subject! However, if we limit his teachings on giving to only five, here is the capstone: You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ (Acts 20:35). Wouldn’t you agree that most Americans would disagree with this statement? Don’t you think the participants of Black Friday and Cyber Monday believe there is more joy in receiving their shopping goodies than in being generous on Giving Tuesday? Here’s a final, big concern of Jesus: Your heart is where your treasure is; Is your heart set on giving more than receiving? This is certainly one of the biggest challenges to followers of Jesus in our American consumer culture.
If you would like to remember Crosswalk Church at the end of the year, it is very easy to give online at our website. Here are three options for you, if you wish to designate your gift:
- General fund: This supports our ongoing ministry to our church family and our community. We have some significant end of year expenses, and your gift will make a difference.
- STEPPING FORWARD: If you would like to support the work of making necessary improvements to our campus, every gift helps. We have dreams for more improvements that are presently unfunded!
- Faith Promise Missions: We love to impact our local community and our world in the name of Jesus. 100% of your designated gift will go to support our missionaries and mission partners.
Thank you again, Crosswalk friends and family, for your Jesus-like generosity!
More Blessed to Give,