Maureen and I have a martial conflict, not real serious, nevertheless…..
Before we were married, she went to church every Sunday with her offering envelope in hand. An important part of worship for her included placing the envelope in the offering plate as the plate was passed through the pews. She went to church every Sunday with her gift of money.
Sunday morning is always busy for me. I review my sermon, look forward to seeing friends, wonder if I forgot to do something important during the week, worry about someone I’ve not seen in church for some time. In all that busyness, I sometimes forget about my offering knowing if I forget a week or two, I can bring it with me at the end of the month.
We’ve a conflict. I don’t champion her weekly discipline and she asks me, “You don’t wait until the end of the month to pray, why wait until the end of the month to give?”
We could enroll in “Simply Giving,” I say to her. If we forget to bring our offering on a Sunday morning, our gift will be automatically deducted from our bank account. The church will then be able to depend on our regular giving.
“That is a good plan, for some people,” she replies.
But not a good plan for her; for her it would become too mechanical.
Both of us learned from our parents both the joy and discipline of giving. Bringing our offering to church each Sunday was as normal as eating breakfast. It was no surprise when we read of a research project posted in the Journal of the Association for Psychological Science stating, “Repeated giving, even in identical ways to identical others, may continue to feel relatively fresh and relatively pleasurable the more that we do it.” That is science speaking!
The report went on to note that “when people focus on an outcome, such as getting paid, they can easily compare outcomes, which diminishes their sensitivity to each experience. When people focus on an action, such as donating to a charity, they may focus less on comparison and instead experience each act of giving as a unique happiness-inducing event.”
Back to our marital conflict. Maureen is right, it is important for us to give weekly and participate in the discipline of placing our gifts in the offering plate as it is passed through the pews. Thankfully, she appreciates that for me, Saturday night and Sunday morning can be so busy for me that I just don’t attend to everything that I should attend to.
We have no conflict, however, with each other over this truth we read in the book of Acts (20:35): “ . . . remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, for he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Giving is an important discipline, giving is how we live. We live to give, we each learned this truth from our parents, our Sunday School teachers, our pastors. Maureen and I look at our income, calculate a tenth, that becomes what we budget to give. We then find joy in determining where the money will go: to church, to a couple of different churches, agencies of the church, schools and to special needs.
Works for us. And besides, we are present with those individuals, agencies and churches that receive our gifts, we are a part of them, they of us. We are community.
We know giving is required of us, but we also know giving is what we want to do.