Grace of Giving

There is this interesting tension in Scripture where we are encouraged to pursue, be zealous for, and excel in something that is categorized as a “grace.” 

The word grace in Greek is “charis.” When Paul talks about the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12 & 14 the word translated as “gift” is “charis-ma.” The word translated as “gifts” is “charis-mata” the plural form. It’s simply the word grace with a suffix. One could just as easily translate the word “gracelet” or “grace-outworking” instead of “gift.” 

So it’s clear that gifts of the Spirit are not earned. They are pure grace. They are droplets of grace working in our lives. And we know it is the Spirit who “distributes them to each one, just as he determines”(1 Corinthians 12:11). 

But then Paul turns right around and says “eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit”(1 Corinthians 14:1). He continues by saying, “Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church”(1 Corinthians 14:12). 

So, though these gifts are droplets of pure grace, we are still commanded to eagerly desire them, pursue them, and try to excel in them. We don’t sit around passively. We go after them. 

Paul echoes this same tension when, later, he sends a letter to tell the Corinthians, “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”(2 Corinthians 8:7). 

He calls financial giving a “grace” (a “charis” in the Greek). Once again we see that receiving a grace from God does not mean we operate without agency. Just like any other gift, or grace, we must engage in it for it to mature. We must practice it for it to develop. Like any other grace, the way to grow in it is to be a good steward of it. The more we engage in and practice giving generously of our finances, the more we mature and grow in the grace of giving. 

We don’t sit around passively and say something selfish like, “Well, I just don’t have the gift/grace of giving.” No, what we lack is the willingness to give. If we start giving sacrificially of our finances, we will find that grace pours down like rain.

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