2 Corinthians 8:16-21
Churches receive their offerings in multiple ways. Some congregations have members come to the front to place their gifts in a basket. Some have a pouch attached to a rod that ushers extend to each person sitting on a pew. Many of us have passed an offering plate.
My wife and I recently settled an offering plate dispute that erupted between our two younger sons. Our middle son dutifully put his offering envelope in the plate with the writing facing down so his gift amount wasn’t visible. Our youngest placed his envelope in the plate facing up, and consequentially everyone who received the plate after us could see the amount he gave. Our older son chastised our youngest for not living by the standard Matthew 6:3 set, which says your giving should be so private that not even your left hand knows what the right hand is doing. Our youngest said he wasn’t trying to make the amount visible, he was just putting it in the plate. No big deal.
Paul’s encouragement for the Corinthians to be generous toward the Jerusalem believers seems to be appealing more to the public display of giving rather than the private worship Matthew 6:3 describes. Paul wants everyone to know about the gifts and how they are disbursed, saying, We intend that no one should blame us about this generous gift that we are administering, for we intend to do what is right not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of others (vv. 20-21). In this case, at least, how the money is collected and how it is distributed must hold up to public scrutiny. Accountability in how we give and how it is spent in the Lord’s service matters, no matter which way your envelope faces when you put it in the plate.
Is my giving right in God’s sight? Are my gifts being used in a way that is right in the people’s sight?
Righteous God, you know the heart of every giver. May I give generously and may you be pleased with my gift and how it is used to further your kingdom. Amen.