Just because a church or a Christian keeps Jesus at center stage doesn’t mean they won’t face problems or have difficulties. Keeping Jesus in focus will not guarantee that other areas will be all right. But—I’ve seen this repeated so often in churches and individuals—when Jesus is out of place, many other pieces will be out of place as well. Getting Jesus wrong guarantees other parts will be wrong. The Scriptures identify Jesus as the cornerstone for a reason (1 Peter 2:7-8).
In these next few posts, I believe the traits I’ve come to love about my church have become prominent characteristics because we strive to keep Jesus front and center. One of the surest ways to see into the heart of a person, organization, or church is to measure their giving. Lives changed by Jesus breath out generosity with the certainty of a breeze at the beach on a summer afternoon or a sharp wind on a mountain top on a winters’ morning.
That truth is built into the very language of the Scriptures, and we see it revealed in the word grace in the New Testament. In many places, the words giving or gift in our English translations are translated from the word grace in the Greek language. When Jesus graciously gives mercy, forgiveness, salvation and provisions, he then lives these same traits out through those who have been changed by them!
That’s why I love my church’s generosity so much. I’ve seen my church give generously for just about every drive, offering, or need we share before the congregation. In 2016, fires ravaged the Lake Lure, NC area. We collected and dispersed thousands of bottles of water and other necessities. In 2017, we took up a record missions offering of more than $171,000. Each year, our church family adopts hundreds of less fortunate children in our area for Christmas. We’ve hit a record number of Operation Christmas Child boxes in 2017 (over 630), breaking our record we set the year before. Water and toiletries have made their way from us to Florida for hurricane relief this fall. Sunday school classes have supported church plants and Bible translators. In my own small group in recent days, families gave and hosted a two day yard sale for one of our own. The husband and father is facing a blood disease requiring ongoing treatment. So many came and gave and bought and helped—generously.
Others have given generously in private. A church member not long ago handed me a significant sum of money and instructed, “Please see this gets to a family in need.” Another offered to give to a specific cause but only if he could give it discreetly through the church without anyone knowing. I could go on and on.
I am so grateful to worship with others who get Paul’s words,
6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
2 Corinthians 9:6-7
Sow bountifully, reap bountifully. Yes. My church gets this right. And that’s one reason I love my church!