From the District President: Generosity
On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up in keeping with his income, so that there will be no collecting when I come. 1 Corinthians 16:2
It all begins and ends in the reality that God is generous. He pours Himself out. He pours His blessings out. He gives and gives and then gives some more. To be generous, to be a giver, is to be a reflection of God.
As we look at Christmas in the rearview mirror, so much of the joy we experience is in giving generously. The verse above helps us to put specific principles to generosity.
Today I thank God for His generosity and for yours. This generosity enables each one of our congregations to proclaim the Gospel message and administer the Sacraments, to train up our children, and to reach out to our neighbors. Your generosity pours over to support the work of the Nebraska District as we collaborate to do mission work around the state and around the globe. As of this writing, we have received $2,199,152.68 in unrestricted congregational gifts from 168 congregations. With 74,582 reported communicant members, that is an average of $29.49 per communicant.
As I review Scripture and the many places it discusses money and generosity, I find five fundamentals to God’s call for giving. Three of them are easily seen in this call to support fellow believers in Jerusalem.
On the first day – Whether it is the First Commandment, or gathering for worship, or giving our gifts to the Lord, it all starts with God. He first gives to us and calls us to give first to Him. Proverbs 3:9-10 instructs, “Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the first-fruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.” God is our first priority.
Of every week – God is constant. He does not change. Consistent giving, like consistent prayer and worship, is a habit that helps us rest in His consistent presence. Holy habits are a blessing.
In keeping with his income – Malachi 3:10 says, “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” God calls for a significant percentage of our income to help us learn to trust in His provision.
Commitment – This is a key concept in how we give. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Commitment is key to every important relationship. Commitment can be scary and intimidating, but it is also a joy and celebration as we dedicate ourselves to the God who has given us all things.
Joy – God’s grace moves you from greed and stingy selfishness to being generous, free, selfless, and joyous. The Greek word is hilarion. It is where we get the word hilarious. This is more than a little smile. It is “bust your gut” laughter. God loves it when our praise comes bursting forth. God does not act reluctantly or under compulsion—He freely loves and joyously forgives.
I suppose God accepts crabby service, half-hearted praise, and grumpy gifts, but there is a whole different atmosphere with joy and cheer.
God is a joyful giver. Thank you for your generosity in supporting your congregation. Thank you for your congregation’s generosity in supporting the Nebraska District. We, in turn, joyously support our Synod’s national and international mission work with our pledge of one-third of your unrestricted gifts, this year totaling $750,000.
What joy there is in reflecting our generous, giving God!
Happy New Year,
Rev. Richard Snow, President, Nebraska District LCMS