This time every year marks the point where planning for next year’s fiscal budget takes place. Budget leaders from different ministries work with others in their ministry to put together a budget for the year ahead. Much time and thought goes into the process, and it can be nerve racking at times. However, it is also a process that grows and stretches our faith that God will once again provide for our needs as a church through the sacrificial giving of his sons and daughters. Certainly God used the church family to meet the fiscal needs of this past year in amazing ways, giving us reason to be extremely grateful and thankful.
As we look ahead to this next year, our fiscal budget was put together again trusting that God will use his children to bring in the funds needed to support the work of the ministry. That being the great work of making disciples by reaching those who are far from God and growing up those who are in Christ. In light of that, please allow me to remind us all of several truths shared by God, through His Word, concerning the act of worship known as giving.
Truth #1 – All believers should give to the Lord.
Giving is a privilege and responsibility for those who have received from God the gift of eternal life. Giving should be a thank offering to God, and a person outside of Christ cannot properly give such an offering (Heb. 13:16). Poor Christians as well as rich should give to the Lord (2 Cor. 8:2; Luke 21:1-4). Those who are supported in Christian ministry are not exempt either. In fact, they should set the example (Acts 20:35).
Truth #2 – Give with the right motivation.
In giving, motivation is crucial. There are many wrong motives for giving…
Pride. If you give to be honored by men for your great generosity, you are giving for the wrong reason. Giving is to be done in secret before God (Matt. 6:1-4).
Guilt. We should not give either because we feel guilty about having too much, or because we would feel guilty if we didn’t give.
Greed. Luke 6:38, “Give, and it will be given to you,” is wrongly used to motivate people to give so that they will get.
Pressure. Responding to high-pressure tactics of Christian fund-raisers is another wrong motive. We are not to give “under compulsion” (2 Cor. 9:7).
Power. Money is power. Some people threaten to take their large gifts elsewhere if you don’t do what they want. That may be how politics operates, but that isn’t how God’s church operates. It’s sin to use your money to try to buy spiritual influence (Acts 8:18-24).
Give because God has given to you. God has given us everything (James 1:17). He gave His Son to provide for our salvation. He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph. 1:3). He “richly supplies us with all things to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17). Because He has given so abundantly to us, we should respond by giving generously back to Him.
Give because you want to please God.
Give because you want God to be my master. “You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24). Generous giving loosens your grasp on money.
Give because you want your life to be used by God (2 Cor. 9:10). God could have chosen to work apart from us, but He did not. He could have used angels or loudspeakers from heaven to spread the gospel, but He chose to use us. And it takes money to further God’s work. If you don’t give, God will use someone else and you’ll miss the blessing of being used of God.
Give because you want to lay up treasures in heaven. Investments on earth are insecure and transitory. Investments in heaven are secure and eternal. There is no more sound investment than that of reaching people with the good news of Christ. God credits money which we give to further His kingdom as fruit to our account, and He will reward us for it someday (Matt. 6:4; 19-20; 1 Tim. 6:19).
Give because you want to grow your faith (2 Cor. 9:8-11). God will provide money for you to give if you will trust Him for it. If you are willing to be a channel for God’s resources, He will give you money to give. But if you bottle it up and keep it for your own comforts, the flow will dry up. Ask God to give you money to give. Then make sure you give it!
Give because you want to be a compassionate person (1 John 3:17; James 2:15-16). In a day like ours, when we’re hit with so many needs from all over the world, it’s easy to close up your heart and not give at all. I know we can’t respond to every poor person around the world, but we need to do all we can to show compassion in the name of Christ (Matt. 25:31-46).
Give because you want to be a worshiper of God. Giving is a sacrifice that pleases God (Phil. 4:18; Heb. 13:16). King David knew the connection between giving and worship. He said, “I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God which cost me nothing” (2 Sam. 24:24). I like to give enough that it pinches our lifestyle. If it’s convenient, it’s not worship. Worship is costly.
Truth #3 – Give in accordance with biblical principles.
There are a couple basic principles of giving:
Give in a pre-planned, systematic way.
(1 Cor. 16:2; 2 Cor. 9:7). “As he may prosper” implies that whenever I receive income, I should give. “The first day of the week” implies regular giving as an act of worship. “Just as he has purposed” implies advance planning, not giving on impulse. In response to God’s grace, each household ought to sit down and determine a fixed amount they believe God wants them to give, and then follow through systematically. You should not wait until the offering plate is coming down the aisle and then think, “Oh no! I haven’t given for a while. I’d better drop something in.”
Give sacrificially at times.
The norm is, “as God has prospered.” But at times God wants us to give more than we think we can afford (2 Cor. 8:2-3, “beyond their ability”). Perhaps you systematically give 15% of your income. An opportunity to give comes along and the Lord says, “I want you to dip into your savings and give $2,000.” Or some extra money comes your way, and the Lord says, “Instead of 15%, I want you to give it all.”
If believers will give from biblical motives, in line with biblical principles and priorities, God will bless with His results. He has done it this past year, and I look forward to seeing what he will do this year.