Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7
Over the years I've heard of some churches doing some pretty strange things to balance their budgets. For example:
* There was the church which sold parking spaces on the street. The closer the spot was to the main door of the church, the higher was the fee being charged.
* There was the clergyman who sent out Christmas presents to all his parishioners: an 8 x 10 glossy photograph of himself. He suggested his people might want to give him a Christmas present in return: $20 was suggested.
* Then there was the church where the pastor refused to preach the sermon until a certain amount of money was raised. The collection plates were repeatedly passed and hymns were sung while the money was counted.
Topping that list is a letter put out by the assistant administrator of the Greater Mount Moriah Primitive Baptist Church in Tampa, Florida.
The letter told one of the congregation's ladies that she is delinquent in her church support, and she needs to pay her annual church dues of $1,000 or else she will be removed from the rolls of the congregation. The assistant administrator then suggested the letter's recipient should contact the church office for a review of her financial contribution record and the amount needed to retain her membership.
When I first read that story, I wondered what would Jesus say about such a practice.
Then I remembered the Lord has said something about this kind of strong-arm tactic. Speaking by inspiration, St. Paul wrote, "Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."
Now you will note that St. Paul assumes that people will want to give to the Lord's work.
Indeed, how could we do differently? In His divine grace, the Lord sent His Son into this world to be the sacrifice that would forgive our sins, defeat the devil, and conquer death. God knows that anyone who has seen that kind of love will respond. Not because they are forced to do so, but because thanksgiving is the believer's proper reaction toward Jesus, who has saved our eternal souls.
Yes, Paul assumes that people will give and that compulsion and coercion are both wrong and unneeded. That's because the giving of our time, talent and treasures ought to always be a reaction which comes from a believer's heart.
Oh, I thought you might want to know, the lady who got this letter is looking for another church, a church that speaks about the Christian's proper reaction to the salvation that has been won for us by the crucified and ever-living Jesus.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, in all things, may I have a cheerful heart, which seeks to honor the Savior and encourage others to have a proper perspective and reaction to Jesus' love. In His Name we ask it. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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