Giving: The Intersection of Willing Generosity and Obligation
Written by: Elaina Russo
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” – 2 Corinthians 9:7
Tithe 10%. Give to others 5-20% of what you spend on discretionary expenses. Whatever you spend on TV or streaming services, you should match in charity. These are a few of the asserted expectations that some have on giving.
But the truth is that God—above all else—wants our generosity to be from the heart; not in response to legalistic obligation. God loves a cheerful giver. It’s as simple as that.
Or is it?
Why Do We Give?
In order to be a cheerful giver, we have to understand the motivation behind our giving.
If you’re a Christian, you want to honor God and the many ways He points to giving throughout Scripture, and fill in the gaps for others who have a need. In order to do that, we have to understand the heart of the Father. We have to know what He says in His Word about giving and compassion and generosity. And we must seek His will in how we use our resources to the benefit of others and to the glory of God. Hmmm…now, all of a sudden, being a cheerful giver may not be as simple as first thought; being a cheerful giver takes on a bit more intentionality and perhaps even some extra work to carve out the time necessary to tune in to the heartbeat of God.
If you’re not a Christian and your motivation does not hinge on fulfilling Scripture, you may be influenced to give to a particular cause or mission that’s impacted your own life or those of the people you love. Perhaps helping others in need is important to you. Maybe you’ve got an end-goal in mind…a vision for something specific down the road…new turf or swimming pool for the athletic program at your child’s school, a community center for teens, 3 new wheelchair vans for the local elderly housing community, etc. Perhaps you simply get pleasure from giving. Being thoughtful and purposeful in your giving is an important first step towards beginning or reaffirming your giving.
“For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.” – 2 Corinthians 8:12
This is biblical affirmation that giving what you can is enough. At the end of the day, we should give with a cheerful heart and not begrudgingly.
God Honors Giving
You know what’s interesting about giving? Even while most people will tell you that we should give expecting nothing in return, the reality is that most people will tell you about a time when their blessing of others led to a blessing in their own lives. That’s no coincidence…it’s biblical:
- “Whoever is generous to those in need lends to the Lord himself, and He will repay him for his deed.” – Proverbs 19:17
- “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion…” – 2 Corinthians 9:11a
- “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want of more. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” – Proverbs 11:24-25
Basically, giving to others is like giving to God, and generosity is always favored.
Don’t Look to Others When YOU Have the Solution
Have you ever been made aware of a specific need and you start praying to God to meet the need or you rally others to the cause? Maybe someone could really use a computer or an upgrade to that 10-year-old phone or a ride to the hospital next Wednesday. And then somewhere along the way, you realize “We have that old laptop from a couple of years ago that we’re not using any more,” or “My phone got replaced two years ago and it’s sitting in my sock drawer,” or “Wait a minute…my calendar looks pretty clear Wednesday, and I could move around what’s left to clear out my Wednesday morning.”
God’s pretty clear: “Don’t ask me to do what’s within your power to do. You take care of the things that are within your ability; I’ll pick up the slack in ways you can’t even imagine. ‘Cuz you know…I’m God and all.”
The scriptural references actually say:
- “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them.” – Proverbs 3:27
- “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” – James 4:17
- “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” – Hebrews 13:16
Maybe you’ve got that particular piece of equipment that someone needs. Got an extra computer or car you could donate?
Maybe you’ve got a few extra dollars that you can add to your current giving commitment. Maybe you’ve got a lot of extra dollars: Bonus this year? Dividend payout? Reached your insurance cap for the year and now have those extra monies coming through in your paycheck?
Maybe you have a gift in a particular area and you could help out that way. Are you an organizational wizard or a tax expert? Know your way around automotive engines and can help out the person with car trouble?
Whatever it is, God has blessed you so you can be a blessing, so get out there and be a blessing.
How Can You Direct Your Resources?
You’ve heard a lot these past few days about PCA’s Annual Auction. That’s because it’s the biggest blessing event of the year in terms of helping those with financial need access a PCA education.
Tuition is not something that every family can afford. That’s where, together, we come in…giving so we can: respond to God’s prompting or our alternate motivation; bless others; receive the Lord’s blessing; and meet a need that’s within our ability to carry out.
Helping others through the Variable Tuition program and Saturday’s auction is more than meeting a financial need. We believe there are no accidents in families exploring and applying to our school just as you are no accident in partnering with PCA. So if we believe that, then by extension, meeting a family’s financial need through the Variable Tuition program and our Annual Auction is also meeting a family’s spiritual need, academic need, and relational need. Your giving is literally reaping benefits beyond an accounts receivable bill.
I will confess unabashedly that I want you, our donors and bidders and would-be donors and bidders, to give to Variable Tuition and participate in our auction because you believe in the mission of PCA and in the mission of Variable Tuition. I want you to give with a cheerful heart, out of a generous spirit rather than obligation. I want you to be affirmed in your giving and receive blessings you couldn’t have anticipated. I want you to be the Lord’s mortal problem-solver, seeing the need and then figuring out what’s within your ability to meet it.
I want all of that, but that might not be God’s plan for your unique resources. So first, I would ask that you pray to ask God where He wants you to direct your finances and your talents and your time. This goes back to our first point: we must get to know the heartbeat and will of the Father. If you find yourself prompted to give to Variable Tuition, Sponsor a child and/or participate in Saturday’s auction (and I do promise that it’s a fun and engaging event!), then I would ask that you act on it now.
As you seek God’s will, I want to share with you a glimpse of our Variable Tuition families, which include:
- Families where one or more family members has been struck with a life-altering illness or death
- Families where there’s been job loss or income reduction
- Bullied children
- Kids persecuted for their faith
- Children needing academic challenge or support
- Dual-working households
- Disabled family members
- Care for adult dependent children or parents
- Single moms and dads
- Breadwinner and stay-at-home parents
- Divorced families
- Single-child families
- Multi-child families
- Your child’s friends, your neighbors, your coworkers, your fellow congregants
I could go on. And while the list above may seem broad, they all share the same core foundations in their desire and sacrifice to send their children to PCA: they want excellent education and opportunities, and they want it undergirded with biblical teaching and/or healthy school culture. Not any different from you and me.
So please pray with me and the rest of the PCA community about Saturday’s auction and the year ahead. And please plan to join us at the auction where you’ll meet two families and hear firsthand how your giving is leaving a positive mark on the lives of their children and families. And of course, you’re going to get to check out some super items up for bid!
Finally, I want to leave you with a message from one of our parents on the impact of your generous giving:
“Thank you ever so much for the assistance that you provide to our family. My son and I both take to heart very seriously the generosity of so many donors as an investment in his life right now and his future. We are often praying for PCA as an academic institution and the lasting impact it makes on all who are part of its mission and vision, but also for the precious community that it is. PCA has changed our lives for the better and I see daily examples of that. None of it would be possible for us without help. I am ever so thankful.”
Families like this thank you and I thank you. Thank you for making a difference in the lives of those around you.
Elaina Russo is the director of development and a parent to three PCA children.