Sharefaith‘s Daniel Threlfall asked me great questions about Transformational Giving that will be posted soon in an interview there. Here’s a preview.
Why should a Christian be motivated to give?
Well, let’s start with what shouldn’t motivate them to give.
Self-fulfillment should not motivate them to give. We’re to take up our cross daily and empty ourselves into others the way he empties himself into us. So filling ourselves up through giving—because it makes us feel good or because we like to help people, for example—moves us in entirely the wrong direction. We’ll find ourselves not giving more than giving, because one only needs so much giving or helping in order to feel good enough.
And the desire to change the world should not motivate Christians to give. Jesus has this maddening habit in the Scriptures of calling people to give everything to things that appear to make no earthly difference. “Suppose you have a hundred sheep and you lose one,” says Jesus. “Wouldn’t you abandon the ninety nine and go after the one?” And we want to say, “No! Of course not! You win some sheep and you lose some sheep! That’s the cost of the sheep business!” So churches and Christian NGOs are like that. They win some members and they lose some members with little grief at all.
So there’s only one biblical motivation to give, and that is because we become every more deeply aware that Christ is pouring his whole life into us, and we are filled to overflowing. We pour our/his life into others in order to mirror him into the world. This is our reasonable worship. What we do to others in his name we actually do to him as our worship of him.