From the Wisconsin United Methodist Foundation
The Joy of Giving & The Purity of the Gift
“For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has—not according to what one does not have.” (2 Corinthians 8:12)
In my experience, we are pretty casual in our churches about ensuring whether our gifts are acceptable. We write a check, drop it in the plate or even send it to the office. Alternatively, our gift is sent directly by electronic funds transfer from our bank account to the church’s account. But is the gift acceptable to God, and how can we ensure that it is acceptable?
During worship, the collected tithes and offerings are usually taken to the altar at which time the congregation sings a doxology (literally word of praise) and the pastor says a prayer. Hopefully, in this way, we are asking God to bless our gifts. If God blesses them, then they are acceptable (pure, sacred, clean, holy) to God.
(Unfortunately, in many of our worship services, we give our offering of gifts to God very short shrift. I attended a service of worship recently in which we skipped the doxology because we were running short on time.)
In the Scripture above, Paul gives a very different slant on what is acceptable. He says, the gift is acceptable if the giver is eager to give. I certainly would want to continue to praise God and ask God’s blessing on my gifts during worship, but I can ensure their acceptability by giving them with joy in my heart.
Interestingly, Paul also indicates in this passage that acceptability of our gifts is proportional, that is, “according to what we have.” The widow’s two small coins (Mark 12:41-44, Luke 21:1-4) are as acceptable as the large sums given by the rich because her gift was proportionally greater, indeed it was all she had.
Jim Wells, Wisconsin United Methodist Foundation
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