Several years ago I attended a seminar for pastors led by an ‘expert’ in stewardship who said that his methods would increase giving at the church by at least 30%. Some of the principles were sound. He told us to make sure to communicate a clear vision (what are we planning to do and why) so that people know what they are supporting. Good idea, right? He also instructed us to make the church’s financial reports transparent so people will be confident that funds are not being wasted. That, too, was a good point.
Then the presentation soured for me. When a large project comes along, special requiring a lot of resources, he told us to find ‘key’ (meaning people with money) donors who would publicly announce their support and the amount of their donation to the congregation which would challenge others to match their ‘generosity.’ “Pastor, make sure you announce how much you are giving, too. You set the tone.” Mr. Money Guy and I went separate ways on that point. Would his method work to raise money? I am sure it would, but with the wrong motive, a misplaced reason.
In giving, as all of our Christian living, we know how important it is to be authentic, to live what we believe. If I taught others to tithe (which I do) but did not do it myself, I’d be a hypocrite inviting God’s judgment. I have always given the first 10% of my income to the work of the Lord, and I am glad that I have been privileged to do so. There is great joy in being a financial partner with my church, with charities like World Vision, in benevolent efforts, and with those who are doing missionary work in other parts of the world. I believe that tithing provides a minimal guideline for giving, creating a discipline which I personally know has helped me to keep the idolatry of things from taking over my heart. But, I don’t announce my gifts or seek recognition for this, nor do I want to.
Jesus says that our charitable giving, like all ‘acts of righteousness,’ is not to be done for the admiration of others, but because we love God! In the Sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus explains the principles of God’s world, He says – “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:1-4, NIV)
God sees, God rewards! I am glad for that. He is not concerned about the amount of our giving, but that it is generous and proportional to our resources. In another story in the Gospel’s Jesus surprised His disciples by telling them that the 2 cent gift of a poor widow was greater than the gold of a rich man! “Jesus went over to the collection box in the Temple and sat and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two pennies. He called his disciples to him and said, “I assure you, this poor widow has given more than all the others have given. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.” (Mark 12:41-44, NLT)
Are you generous, Christian? Think your 2 cents does not matter, or that your $2000 should matter more? Reconsider that in light of God’s wisdom.
God is not interested in how much we give but that our giving reflects the true love of our heart and that it is in line with our income.
Don’t be guilted into giving! Give with delight.
Learning to give, to practice generosity, is part of being a disciple of Christ Jesus. Discover the joy of making the life of another better by giving of your time, your resources, your love.
The word from the Word – “Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each make up your own mind as to how much you should give. Don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves the person who gives cheerfully. And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, “Godly people give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will never be forgotten.”” (2 Corinthians 9:6-9, NLT)
(The real foundation for life, Jesus!)
Worthy of ev’ry song we could ever sing
Worthy of all the praise we could ever bring
Worthy of ev’ry breath we could ever breathe
We live for You
Holy there is no one like You
There is none besides You
Open up my eyes in wonder and show me who You are
And fill me with Your heart
And lead me in Your love to those around me
Jesus the name above ev’ry other name
Jesus the only one who could ever save
Worthy of ev’ry breath we could ever breathe
We live for You We live for You
I will build my life upon Your love
It is a firm foundation
I will put my trust in You alone
And I will not be shaken
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