7 Everyone should give whatever they have decided in their heart. They shouldn’t give with hesitation or because of pressure. God loves a cheerful giver. 8 God has the power to provide you with more than enough of every kind of grace. That way, you will have everything you need always and in everything to provide more than enough for every kind of good work.
It often amazes me the way God can take bad things and create good. It happens all the time. COVID was a terrible, difficult time, yet God did wonderful things!
For many years, I’ve heard criticism from those who have left the church about the time of offering during church services. Often, the criticism has to do with the passing of the plate and how there can be a social pressure attached to it. Everyone can see you giving and there can be an embarrassment if you don’t give. In fact, some places of worship began to use cards to put in the plate if you gave online so that you’d still be seen giving something.
During COVID, everything changed. We were virtual. There was no passing of the plate. No one saw how or what you gave – but people gave. People gave from their hearts, even when no one was watching. It was amazing. And because of the attempt to reduce communally touched objects, many churches haven’t gone back to passing the plate, some have. Many do as we have continued to practice, which is having places to give in the space but making it known that there are several other ways to give beyond the basket on Sunday morning. Not being seen placing something in the plate doesn’t have the same meaning it once did. Many assume that others probably give online or drop checks off in the office. It changes the culture around giving – I’d argue for the better. Instead of the panic to find some money before the plate gets to you, people give as they feel called to. If they can’t, no one’s watching them.
In our text from Paul today, it says, “Everyone should give whatever they have decided in their heart. They shouldn’t give with hesitation or because of pressure.” This is such an important piece when we talk about stewardship. Pressure isn’t a heart of giving. It isn’t a response to God’s love for us. No one should ever feel like they have to give – we don’t have to give to get God’s love. We give because we believe in what the church can and is doing in the world – the way it’s helped us and can help others
by Rachel Callender
For Pondering & Prayer
Have you ever felt social pressure to give or to do something? How did that make you feel? What can we do to make our church a space without pressure or expectation, but love and grace?
Prayer: Holy God, You give so abundantly and freely to us. May our hearts be moved to do the same, and to not judge others as they navigate their own relationship with giving. Amen.