Archive for May, 2011

Thinking some more about money, again I was challenged recently to think, ‘What does generosity look like?’  How do we know if we are being generous?  In one sense we only know if we are generous by looking at our heart, but then our hearts can be so deceitful…

The way I was challenged to consider generosity was this:

We live in the age of grace now, not one of law.  And we see in the Sermon on the Mount that grace always goes further than law.  So, we don’t just not murder, we love our enemies.  We don’t just not steal, we give to all those who ask.  We don’t just limit ourselves to an eye for an eye, we turn the other cheek.  What if we applied this logic to generosity?

Well the law in the Old Testament mandated giving of at least 10%.  If grace and freedom from the law look better than law-keeping, than shouldn’t we be giving more than 10%.

Oh, that’s legalism, I hear you say.  Well, maybe.  But if you’re freedom from the law just encourages you to rationalize greed, then what good has your freedom really done?

Obviously we haven’t discussed the motivation for giving (2 Cor 8-9 is a great place to go to see Paul’s thoughts on that).  But why not take a moment to consider: Am I using my freedom for generosity?  What is holding me back from giving more?

We have been given so much in Australia.  Let’s be generous givers.

What do you think?


Listening to a pastor recently has challenged my thinking about money. Do we, with our current sensitivities owe more in our thinking about money to the Bible or to our culture? Here’s one example to ponder…

We say from Matt 6 that when we give we are not to let our right hand know what our left hand is doing. So we give secretly to avoid pride. But is that our problem these days? Is it that we are in grave danger of pride because of our generous giving? Or is it that our secrecy covers over our lack of generosity?

Matt 6 seems to be addressing the problem of hypocrisy in giving – doing it so others will think well of you. Is that our danger? Or is it that we are tempted to greed and don’t give much, which our secrecy actually aids and abets?

How do we work against this tendency? One idea is sharing our budget with a trusted brother or sister, asking them to tell us whether we might be suffering from greed. Maybe you have some other ideas… What do you think?

Proof-texting worship?

We know that worship involves all of life from Rom 12:1, “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”  The New Testament seems to talk so little about worship, so is this just a proof text?  Is this a shaky claim to make?I did an essay recently on Amos 5:18-27.  In this passage God does the extraordinary thing of rejecting their temple offerings and festivals because their society is not characterized by justice and righteousness.  ”  “I hate, I despise your feasts…  Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them… But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (v21-24)  In other words, Israel, the northern kingdom, had continued all the religious ritual at the temple, but failed to obey the whole law.  Their requirement to worship God was to do all his law.  Isaiah 1:13-17 has the same idea, which is not uncommon to many of the other prophetic books in the OT.  So the concept of worship embodying all of your life is clear and repeated in the OT.  That’s maybe why it doesn’t feature so overtly in the NT, it’s assumed knowledge from what God has already made clear.