for if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. [2 cor 8:12]
we are a people of “yes, but”. as people who affirm the word of God, we cannot avoid being confronted with truths when we go to church or go to lot family or open the word, but instead of turning these truths over and over in our hearts and heads and examining them, letting them do their piercing work to the division of our souls and of spirit, of our joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of our heart [hebrews 4:12b], we immediately dismiss their wisdom as not practical, not realistic or culturally irrelevant, particularly when it has to do with an all-consuming idol like money.
“yes, but the widow who gave her last mite was probably taken care of by the community, we would all be homeless and living in boxes somewhere if we did that.”
“yes, but Jesus knew which sin the rich man struggled with [mark 10:21, luke 18:22], Jesus knew he wasn’t going to give away all his possessions, he was doing it to prove a point.”
“yes, but when Jesus talks about the cost of discipleship ‘so therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.’ [luke 14:33] he cannot mean that we are to really do that. who would support the church?”
“yes, but what does ‘deny yourself, take up his cross and follow me’ [mark 8:34] really mean?”
“yes, but saving something is good, right? Jesus can’t really mean that we are not supposed to store up any possessions. [matthew 6:20]”
“yes, but a tithe is an old testament thing–we are free from the law.”
“yes, but the bible also says that i should give what is decided in my heart–cheerfully [2 corinthians 9:7], i don’t just want to check a box.”
when we say “yes, but” what we are really saying is “no.” for a final argument against giving–
“yes, but i have so little to give comparatively, there are others, and some have billions of dollars–what about them?”
paul makes quick work of all of these arguments for the corinthians: if you are faithful, if you are ready to participate, if you are ready to give back to God what he has so freely blessed you with–know that you are only responsible for giving from what he has given to you (which is everything). you are not asked to give an account for someone else. you are not asked to give what you do not possess.
we want formulas. we want rules. remember what we talked about just a few short months ago?
 not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God,  who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. [2 corinthians 3:5-6]
the letter kills. a formula for giving would mean death for us, we would just devolve into pharisees. how do we know we are giving as we should? the Spirit gives life! we wrestle with the Spirit, we cry out for conviction in giving. we ask God to show us the idols of our hearts and through the spirit, we ruthlessly root them out of our lives.
let us be people who are controlled in our giving by the love of christ, held to account with our money by the holy spirit. let us be people who come to the throne of God with open hands. let us not be people of “yes, but” but “yes, LORD!”
~ conor eastman