The Attitude of Giving – November 8, 2020, Stewardship Dedication Sunday

Old Testament, II Corinthians 9:6-7
November 8, 2020

A wise man once said, (and I’ve quoted him before!) “If you don’t choose your attitudes, they will be chosen for you by the circumstances in your life.” Think about that!  It’s true, isn’t it?  If we don’t choose to have a positive attitude, our attitude will be influenced, or even driven by the negativity around us – and there has been a lot of negativity these days!  If we don’t choose a joyful attitude, we will only be joyful when the circumstances of our lives are joyful.

Well, I believe there’s also an attitude of giving.  And I believe that attitude of giving is also one we must choose.  If not, the circumstances in our lives will choose it for us, whether that means financial difficulties, times of trial – like the Covid crisis, or possibly times of tension in our church family.

Those things can easily affect our “attitude of giving.”  And I believe it’s important that we choose that attitude.  And that’s what comes at me so strongly when I read the words we read from Paul in Second Corinthians.  They “jumped off the page” at me this week!  As I’ve said before, that’s sometimes how the Holy Spirit speaks to us as we read the scriptures.  Words seem to jump off the page!  Well, this sentence did that for me.  Listen again to these words Paul wrote about giving.  “Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Think about that.  And when I say, “think about that,” it occurs to me that’s what Paul is saying about our giving.  We should “think about it!”  “Each one must do as he has made up his mind,” he said.  And the words “Made up his mind” are saying the same things we say when we talk about making a pledge.  Ideally, a pledge is an intentional, well thought out decision.

Now mind you, that doesn’t mean a pledge is not a hard and fast “contract” you must fulfill no matter what.  No.  A pledge is a thought out – and prayed about – choice.  It’s a goal to “shoot for.”  It’s something to keep you “on track.”  And it’s something that keeps you mindful of the needs of the church, and your part in its ministry.  And I hope you will think about that when you’re making your pledge.

Also think of these words.  Paul says, “Giving should not be done reluctantly or under compulsion.”  And I would add that it shouldn’t be done haphazardly, or without thought.  You know what it’s like for some.  (And probably for all of us from time to time!)  It’s like, “Oh no, here comes the plate.  I wonder if I have anything to put in it.”  Paul would tell us that “each of us must do what we have made up our minds to do.”  We are intentional about it.  We are thoughtful and prayerful.

Again, we must choose the attitude of giving, or other things will choose it for us.  And sometime that means things like fear or despair.  In other words, our giving should not be done reluctantly or under compulsion, and it shouldn’t be based on feelings – the feelings we might have any particular day.  “The world is in turmoil!  Covid is making things so difficult.  Why bother?”  “The country is in a mess!  Does it really matter?”  Or the church version of fear – “Oh no!  We’re not going to make our budget.”  Such things can affect our attitude of giving, can’t they!  We can’t let those feelings control us.

I’ve talked the last few weeks about Paul’s wonderful statement that “we take every thought captive in obedience to Christ.”  In other words, when we have a negative feeling, we do something about it.  We fight it.  We need to resist bad feelings.  We need to stop negative thoughts.  We need to change those bad thoughts, not dwell on them or nurse them!  That’s true about the attitude of giving as well.

Maybe we can change those kinds of negative thoughts by choosing to think about some of the other things Paul said here.  And these are great words, too!  “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly.  But he who sows abundantly will reap abundantly.”  And I’ve always loved that word, “Abundantly!”  Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life and have it more abundantly!”

Now I’m not suggesting here that we take on a “give in order to get” mentality.  You’ve no doubt seen ministries that “work that angle.”  And there are a number of them out there!  You know, they get somebody on the screen that says, “I gave money to the church, and the next week I got a big unexpected check in the mail.”  And they suggest that that’s what’s going to happen to everyone.

Well, receiving is not a reason to give, unless you’re talking about receiving the blessings of God in your life, unless you’re talking about sharing in the joy of his kingdom, unless you’re talking about God’s abundance, which is not measured only in dollar signs!  We need to change any negative thoughts we might have into those kinds of positive thoughts.  We need to think about the joy and abundance of God’s kingdom!

But that’s not always easy!  As I said a couple of weeks ago, people in our modern world can’t understand that kind of thought process.  Too many people in our world think they can’t help what they think, or how they feel, and they can’t do anything about their attitudes.  They just happen.  And I said it then, and I’ll say it again.  We, as God’s people, know better!  We know we can change those things!  We can choose to live in the joy of God’s kingdom.  And again, we can do so despite the circumstances of our lives.

Maybe I sound like a broken record on this.  But I believe it.  And I believe that’s what God wants for us!  He wants us to have joy no matter what the circumstances.  He wants us to choose to have a positive attitude!  He wants us to know that things are not all bad in this world, and that we can look for and find the good in people.  And he wants above all for us to know his power, and his love, in our lives!

Remember these words of Paul to the Ephesians.  And I will close with this.  And maybe these words can help you focus on all I’ve been saying here.  Paul wrote, “Now unto him who, by the power at work within us, is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, to him be glory in the church and in Jesus Christ to all generations, forever and ever, Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

So, let us bring our pledges.  And let us bring them based on God’s goodness, and on God’s abundance, not reluctantly or under compulsion.  Let us not allow negativity or despair sneak into our thoughts.  Let us choose the attitude of giving.  Let us know that we are God’s people.  And to him be the glory and honor and praise!

Let us pray

Heavenly Father, we give ourselves to you this day.  We pledge ourselves anew to your kingdom.  We are glad to be your people, your body here on earth.  Prosper us in the days to come.  Lift our spirits.  Help us to see your glory, no matter what the circumstances of our lives.  For this we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.