John Grisham's newest novel, The Street Lawyer, opens with a homeless man taking several lawyers hostage in their office. Wanting to determine how much each lawyer donated to the poor, the hungry, and the homeless, the man orders one of the lawyers to obtain the others' tax records for the previous year. The lawyer responsible for reading each tax form proclaims that he paid $53,000 in taxes, adding that much of this sum went to help the indigent. The kidnapper, however, sees through the shallowness of the lawyer's response and asks, "You did this voluntarily, with a giving spirit?" "I didn't complain," says the lawyer, though admitting to himself that his answer is a lie.'
The lawyer exemplifies the attitude of many Christians: we pay our taxes and give to our church while despising every check we write. Paul's advice to the Corinthian Christians was "to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Cor. 9)7, NIV). The government compels us to pay taxes. God, however, asks us to give to our church's ministry. Do we give voluntarily, with a giving spirit?