Richard Foster identifies two types of giving – reasoned giving and risk giving.
Which is the type of giving that God seeks from us?
I think the typical Biblical call is for reasoned giving.
In 1 Cor. 16:2, Paul encourages the church at Corinth to set aside a sum of money in keeping with their income.
We learn giving is:
- Premeditated – the amount we give should be determined before the collection is given.
- Proportionate – the amount we give is proportionate to our income.
- Reasoned - When you look at your income, you ought to give a reasonably generous amount, but not an amount that will leave you in personal financial need and peril.
Thus, reasoned giving is the general admonition and call of Scripture.
However, it would be wrong to conclude that God won’t ever call some of us to risky giving.
Here again, I think we find another important truth: some may be called to risky giving, but not all are called to risky giving. Who do you think is going to help provide the needs of the risky giver? The reasoned giver!
2 Cor 8:12 - For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.
This is something that I think proponents of risky giving get wrong. They challenge you sometimes to give what God has not yet given you. If you’re living on a limited or a fixed income, then what you have is because that’s what God’s determined to give you. Your reasoned gift will be acceptable based on what you’ve given. I’ve heard of far too many people putting pledges or contributions on a credit card when they don’t have the money for those contributions. They call this an act of faith, while I call it a foolish testing of God. God looks for us to be responsible with what he’s given; he doesn’t call us to give more than he’s given.
Reasoned giving can include sacrificial giving
When I speak of reasoned giving, I’d include sacrificial giving in that. You’ve recognized that you can make some lifestyle changes in order to give. You’ve planned that, so it’s a form of reasoned giving.
When is it time for risky giving?
Wisdom ought to be our modus operandi. God has given us wisdom, and he has created a world that is subject to certain principles. For example, you reap what you sow. God rarely intervenes against the natural order of his creation. He wants us to use wisdom to guide our lives. However, there will be times when God moves us to risky giving.
In the end, we need to be sure we are trusting and not testing God in our giving.
What about the woman who gave all she had?
I guess I’d simply say that we need to be careful about making an isolated story the norm for all Christians. But perhaps that’s just because I don’t have the faith I need …
Which type of giving do you think the Bible teaches – reasoned giving or risky giving?