Tag Archives: Proper 8b

Giving

How do you feel about about talking about money? Some don’t like it, others assume its fundraising and they’ll be asked to contribute. Yet Christians often hesitate to mention giving – as I am doing now. (And not only am I not asking for money at the moment, I make a point of seldom doing so.)

Money is personal, private. Yet so are most of the issues that faith deals with. – and many of them we need to talk about because they are controversial, Christians taking a view, even a stand, that is not generally agreed. More than that: we may dislike a world in which everything has a price, but the fact remains that Christians will be judged by whether their spending matches their faith talk.

So what can we learn from 2 Corinthians 8:7-15? Paul is reminding this congregation about a collection for poor Christians in Judea which they had started, but seems to have got “stuck”. He says some important things:

v8,9 the generosity of Jesus in becoming poor for love.

v13,14 a question of equality – perhaps reversing in future.

Giving is important, but it is important that giving should be an act of love (not like shutting up demanding children, or escaping the charity collector who makes you feel guilty). We give, because Jesus teaches us generosity, because we have enough to be able to give thanks to God by offering back some of his generosity to us.

There’s more, though. v12 talks about giving proportionally. I have often found people with the least to be generous. Problems are found with those who have good incomes, who try to give the minimum. Giving proportionally means a fixed part of your income – so more if / when you have more income, less if you earn less. You might like to make the calculation. How much do you (or your household) earn? If you add up your regular giving, what proportion is that of your income? The Old Testament expected 10%, my church organisation suggests 5% to church, allowing for other giving (and perhaps the social welfare aspects of taxation) – but it gets less than 3%, and suffers as a result.

This project of Paul’s was very important to the Church. It brought together Gentile and Jew, helping create a unity. It still does – and we should think about giving to Christian causes and charities. Nobody else, outside faith, can be expected to support them, yet they bring together brothers and sisters in Christ.

I haven’t asked you for money – I’m not going to. But please take seriously the Christian faith, which deals with many very personal areas of life, and has instructions (yes, instructions) about your view and use of money. You need to give some away, regularly, in proportion to your income. Doing so will help you to recognise the generosity of Jesus, and help you be part of his family.

Problems getting there?

It must have been hard for Jairus to make that approach to Jesus! (Mark 5:21-43).  Jairus had a position, in the synagogue, in the community.  He knew Jesus was not popular with some people – important people.  There would be comments and criticism!  And – what if Jesus said no, and wouldn’t come, or couldn’t heal his daughter?  We don’t know how much of a struggle it was, but we can begin to guess.

It must have been hard for that woman to touch Jesus in the crowd!  He might have been so angry!  But she had to try.  She felt she had nothing to lose (though it could have turned out badly).  It looks as if Jesus is being cruel in making her come forward – but I think it is more about making her sure about her healing and his acceptance, so that she can resume a life, with faith.

It looks as if Jesus is being cruel making Jairus wait while he stops to talk to the woman.  That’s when the messengers come to say that his daughter has now died.  But again, it works for the best.  Jairus has even more reason to trust and be thankful to Jesus, and to face down any criticism or hostility.

Of course, Mark is pointing out that, while we have different difficulties asking Jesus for help, and trusting him, we all find it hard.  But we all need to take the risk, – and despite our fears, we will be welcome, and find the best way.  We don’t know how these two people went on, just as I will have no idea what effect reading this will have on you.  It’s more important that God knows, and that your trust in him grows.