Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 22, 1953
NUMBER 24, PAGE 6,9b

Giving With Thankfulness

O. P. Baird, Wilmington, North, Carolina

In "The Gospel Guardian" for September 3, 1953, was an article entitled "Giving Thanks for the Giving." This article condemned the practice of praying before taking the collection in the assembly. The writer first calls it "the practice of 'Giving Thanks' for the offering," but in the article he tries to show that any kind of prayer in connection with the collection is wrong.

I agree with the writer of the article that we give to God and it is out of place for us to give thanks for the offering when there is no offering being made to us. But it is certainly all right to pray and give thanks before making our contribution. We should be thankful for all blessings. At what better time could we give thanks for all that God has given us than just when we are about to give to Him out of that which we have received from Him? This should help us to have the right attitude in our giving. Paul, in connection with his exhortation to the Corinthians to give liberally, reminded them of God's gift to them. (2 Cor. 8:9) Certainly it could not be wrong for us to think of all of God's gifts to us in connection with our giving. If we are thinking of them it will be natural and right to express to God our thanks for them. Paul closed his exhortation with the words, "Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift." (2 Cor. 9:15)

It is important to have the right attitude in carrying out any of God's commands. Then why isn't it right to pray and ask God, just before we obey a command, to help us have the right attitude as we carry it out?

The objector to prayer before the collection criticizes it on the grounds that it was invented by sectarian preachers. I am only interested in whether or not it is right and not in who did it first. I don't know who first had a ten-day protracted preaching meeting, but if I find out a sectarian preacher was the first to do it I am not going to discontinue the practice for that reason.

The article we are reviewing says, "We of the church of Christ claim (?) to 'speak' where the Bible speaks and be 'silent' where the Bible is silent, and this practice is without a precedent, either in the Old or New Testaments." The brother is wrong in saying there is no precedent for this practice in either the Old or New Testament. Read 1 Chronicles 29:6-14. There is command and precedent in both Old and New Testament for prayer and thanksgiving in the assembly. We would be speaking where the Bible is silent if we said that prayer must or must not be made at a particular point in the worship, unless we can show that the Bible specifically states that prayer should or should not be offered at that point. We are speaking where the Bible speaks when we say we must give thanks before eating the bread and before drinking the fruit of the vine in the Lord's Supper. We should be speaking where the Bible is silent if we said we must have a prayer after the third song, or if we should object to having prayer at that point on the grounds "the practice is without a precedent." This is a principle so plain that it should be completely unnecessary to point it out to Christian people. A man is a factionist who tries to disturb the love and fellowship in a congregation by objecting to having prayer at a certain point in the worship, unless he can show where the Bible forbids prayer at that particular point. I have shown that there is a good reason for both thanksgiving and prayer just before giving of our money in the assembly. On the other hand those who understand this should have love and consideration for weak brethren rather than insist on doing something over their weak consciences which does not have to be done. In a congregation where the spirit of Christ prevails there can be division over such matters as this. But congregations have divided over this very point. Such articles as the one we are reviewing gives encouragement to factionists.

What the brother says in the latter part of the article, if accepted by people, will hinder them from giving acceptably. This is the very thing that prompted me to write a reply.

The writer says, "In all 'real giving' there is a sacrifice." To sacrifice is to give up something. Of course, we cannot give without giving up what we give, but we do not have to deny ourselves something we need or want every time we make a gift for that gift to be acceptable to God. It is love that makes a gift acceptable to God and not the extent to which it deprives us of something we need or want. If giving is not prompted by love it will profit the giver nothing even if he gives all he has. (1 Cor. 13:3) If I see a person in need and I give to him what he needs because I have genuine Christian love that gift pleases the Lord even if it does not necessitate depriving myself of something I need or want. See Matthew 10:42. If a person loves the Lord enough to be saved he will deny himself constantly in order to do the work of the Lord, but that does not mean that every gift must involve denying ourselves something we need or want to be "real giving." When we deny ourselves it should not seem grievous to us. The seven years Jacob worked for Laban seemed but a few days — because of love.

The article further says, "No man is thankful that duty requires a sacrifice." He then gives the example of Jesus, in the face of the supreme sacrifice, praying for the cup to pass. Then he says, "There is some of that same feeling in any sacrifice that we are called on to make. If I have something that I am so glad to 'get rid of that I thanked the Lord for the privilege of ridding myself of it, it is not a sacrifice!" If this were correct there should be at least one prayer that the brother could pray before giving — "If it be possible, let this cup pass from me." Is that the way you feel about your giving? Do you give just because it is a duty laid upon you by a Master who demands it? If so, no wonder it is a sacrifice you would want to escape if you could. There can be no blessing in such unwilling giving. Even if you think "no man is thankful that duty requires a sacrifice" you should be thankful for the duty in spite of the sacrifice. I think we should be thankful for the sacrifices we make. We are not thankful for the sacrifice merely for the sake of sacrifice, of course. Nevertheless, we gladly and thankfully make the sacrifice because it increases our treasures in heaven. We are thankful for what makes us better servants of the Lord and increases our reward in heaven. Suffering persecution is not pleasant and we are not thankful for the suffering for its own sake, but we should "rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven." (Matt. 5:12) Is it easier to be thankful for suffering persecutions than for sacrificing material things?

If a person loves the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind and strength he will long to have a part in the work of the Lord and will be thankful for the part he has. It will make him happy to sacrifice to have a part in the purposes of God and he can be thankful for the part he has even while he is making the sacrifice. Study the case of the Macedonian Christians. God was pleased with their giving. (2 Cor. 8:1-5)

The Bible says our giving is not to be a matter of necessary duty, "Let each man do according as he hath purposed in his heart: not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver." (2 Cor. 9:7) The foot note in the ASV says "grudgingly" can be translated "of sorrow." Our brother thinks you just couldn't be thankful that you are "getting rid" of your money. God says not to give "of sorrow." Are we to give with a luke-warm attitude — neither sorry to give nor glad to give? I remember seeing in several bulletins a "letter from Satan" addressed to "Luke-Warm Christian," and beginning "Dear Luke:" There are too many Lukes in the matter of giving. What will the situation be if we start teaching the people that giving is at best a painful duty and that they cannot give with thankfulness?