Give until it hurts?
There is a term perhaps many have never heard. However, if you've been a Christian for some time and have faithfully attended a church for many years, it is more likely that you are familiar with the phrase. A capital campaign (as it relates to the church body) is the organized effort of a church staff (i.e., a campaign) to seek additional funds from its members above and beyond their normal giving in order to raise money (i.e., capital) to secure something of importance (e.g., a new building for the congregation).
Often times a capital campaign will be accompanied by a sermon series on giving. Undoubtedly, the pastor will have the best intentions in mind as he seeks to inspire the body of believers from Scripture to give sacrificially for the growth of the kingdom. And, undoubtedly, many thousands remain faithful to Scripture as they endeavor to accomplish their goals. However, it should be specifically noted that there is one phrase of which the body should be quite wary.
Give until it hurts.
Sure, the sentiment is there: to give so sacrificially that you feel the weight of your giving in your finances. The man behind the pulpit invariably meant no wrong by the comment; after all, isn't the gospel message rooted in the historical fact that a man loved the world so much that he died so that it might live (John 3:16)? Surely it can be said that Jesus gave until it quite literally hurt. And shouldn't it also be noted that the goal of the Christian is to embrace the process of sanctification such that he is always becoming more and more like Christ?
So why do I take caution when I am asked to give until it hurts? It's simple really: God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7).
The thrust of Paul's message to the Corinthians is to give freely, cheerfully, not under compulsion or out of reluctance - and certainly not to the point of pain, as this is inconsistent with the manner in which we are called to give. We are not called to offer our money with a firm grip such that it must be pulled from our hesitant claws, nor are we called to give in a way inconsistent with the motivation of our hearts. Instead, the Lord calls us to give as we have decided in our hearts. Meaning, we are called to give as the Spirit who works in us wills for us to give. And this giving is ultimately for our benefit, for God created all things and needs nothing! Our giving is merely an opportunity to respond in faith and seek to participate in the kingdom work he is doing every day!
The example of a capital campaign is simply a dramatic illustration I use to make a larger point: we are all called to give daily, sacrificially, but out of our hearts' desire to please God and love others, not only during an event in which we are specifically asked to go above and beyond our norms but every day! Be encouraged, therefore, by the message of the Cross: Jesus gave his all, but he did so willingly out of a desire to please and glorify God and out of his love for us. So when you are asked to give until it hurts, remember that giving should never hurt, but should - from a right heart - be a joyful occasion.