But since you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you – see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.
2 Corinthians 8:7, 12 (NIV)
With the increasing trend to give to the church using standing orders or direct debits, there is a possibility for Christians not to think too much about what they give. There is also the danger that the level of giving will be reviewed irregularly.
Giving is a difficult subject and is often ignored by churches, as they are eager not to present a picture of only being interested in a person’s giving. The early church was open about giving and Paul, together with others in their letters, encouraged Christians to be generous in their giving.
In 2 Corinthians 8, Paul tells his readers that their gifts should be set in accordance with what they have, not what they do not have. In other words, they should give within their means. This is not to say that they shouldn’t give generously and sometimes sacrifically, but that the level of their giving should be set by what they can afford. Personlly, I think this varies as each of us go through the year. In some months we could afford more and in others less. While giving by bank transfer may be an efficient way for churches to collect their offerings, it is not necessarily the best way for individual Christians to give in response to their means. Please note I am not down on using modern technology to deal with finance in a church, but I am against Christians being lazy about their giving.
I would encourage those of you who give electronically to consider how you might regularly review your giving instead of setting it once a year. For churches that only use electronic transfers of gifts, how can you cater for the spontaneity of someone wishing to donate some extra gift to the church?
Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (NIV)