“You will be enriched in every way for your generosity.” 2 Corinthians 9:11
Hi, my name is Randy Rimington. I serve as the chairperson of your Financial Resources Team. That team is responsible for the overseeing of the church’s financial resources—basically making sure your contributions are being used wisely in the support of your church. I reluctantly agreed to write this devotion on “Extravagant Generosity” as it is always a challenge to address anything that has to do with money. But the idea of “Extravagant Generosity” extends beyond just money. Generosity, by definition, is the giving of self and one’s resources freely and joyfully to others. It is an understanding of our privilege and responsibility. Generosity is practiced in the repeated acts of giving. People who give generously do so because they genuinely desire to make a positive difference. With respect to the church, people give because they love God, they love their church, and they desire to grow in love of their neighbors, whether those neighbors live across the street or in another part of the United States, or even in another part of the world. As people grow in their relationship to Christ, they grow also in the practice of “Extravagant Generosity,” offering more of themselves for the purposes of Christ and providing the resources that strengthen ministry and that help the church touch the lives of more and more people in the same way their own lives have been transformed by God.
1 Timothy reminds us that the generous heart is rich in the life that really is life.
Central to the discussion of Extravagant Generosity is the discussion of the Tithe. Methodists believe that fruitful congregations practice proportional giving with the goal toward tithing. I think all of us know that tithing refers to giving 10%. Before I comment on that, I did some research on Tithing. I found it interesting that Jews, Greek Orthodox Christians, Lutherans, and even Catholics no longer teach tithing. Many Jews use a dues system to support their synagogues, Lutherans encourage cheerful, proportionate giving, and Catholics merely ask for the support of the local parish. I also found that some countries support their churches by a “church tax,” generally 1-3%, countries such as Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland to name a few. Am I suggesting that the Methodist teaching of the tithe is wrong? Certainly not, I am saying that I believe that the success or failure of a church does not depend on whether a church teaches tithing. Rather the success or failure of a church is dependent on whether the gospel is preached, and the spiritual needs of the congregation are being met. I also believe love will always out give law every time. People respond more to love of God than the fear of God. That is the power of an “indestructible life” as mentioned in Hebrew 7:16.
Well, this is the point in this devotion that I probably should give an example of extravagant generosity. Frankly, I do not have a specific example. Personally, in the past, I did not give too much to the church. I always gave a fixed amount and did raise that amount from time to time, but that amount was just part of my annual budget with no relationship to our income, and certainly nowhere near 10% of income. After all, and just like many of you, we had a mortgage, kids to raise and get through college, and certainly desired a certain lifestyle. Over the past 10 years or so, our giving has changed. We have pledged to debt elimination and building programs, in part because I chaired those committees and would not ask others for anything that I would not be willing to give myself, but more than that, because I truly believed in the projects, i.e. to eliminate debt at New Covenant, to build the Lake Deaton church, and to eliminate our debt here at Lake Deaton. All those contributions were over and above the annual amount we were already giving. In summary, we are now giving at a rate that is growing toward that 10% number. Linda and I do give of our time and talents to the church in various ways, but are we giving “extravagantly?” Frankly, that is not for us to determine. We just give because we love our Church, we love helping others, and we love God.
So, in summary, as to the “Practice of Extravagant Generosity,” one question is “is it all about money?” The answer to that question is “no.” We can certainly give of our time and talent to the church and support its mission. The next question then becomes, “Can giving of our time and talents relieve us of our monetary responsibility?” The answer to that question is also “no.” The primary motivating force behind extravagant generosity for people of faith is the extravagant generosity of God. None of us would be here in and around The Villages if not for God blessing us. And of course, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16.
Finally, it has been said that those who practice Extravagant Generosity have a God-given vision to plant seeds for trees whose shade they will never see.
- Do you have an extravagant generosity story that you can share?
- Have you ever “paid it forward,” and if so, how did you feel?
- Can we really make a difference as a church in our community and in the world given all the “issues” we are facing? How do we make that difference?