There’s an old story of an African-American preacher who was trying to motivative his congregation to greater ministry. As he concluded his sermon, he said if this church is going to go it’s got to walk the walk. To which someone, responded, “Let her walk, preacher!”
Then he said, if this church is going to grow, it’s gotta get up and run. Among a chorus of “Amens” someone hollered, “Let her run, preacher!”
Feeling the surge of excitement, the preacher bellowed, “And if this church is really going to grow big, it’s gotta fly! And with even greater gusto, the congregation roared, “Let her fly, preacher!”
Seeking to seize the moment, the preacher challenged with even deeper passion, “And if this church is gonna fly it’s gonna take money.”
At that, someone yelled back, “Let her walk, preacher.”
The subject of giving is a touchy subject for many. Anytime you begin to discuss the topic of the members’ money, someone thinks you’re meddling in something that’s none of your business. And many preachers shy away for fear of being accused of lobbying for a raise.
The Bible, however, discusses the use of money in a direct and unambiguous manner. In addressing the need to support the needy saints, Paul issues this exhortation to the Corinthian church.
“But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” (1 Cor. 9:6-7)
At the heart of giving is the issue of stewardship. A steward is not the owner, but one assigned to properly manage the owner’s assets. God is the owner. Everything belongs to Him. But he’s entrusted us to use the prosperity he’s given us while we’re on earth.
Stewardship involves the proper use of our time, talents and treasure. All that we are and all that we possess is because of God’s grace and goodness. From the Old Testament teaching on tithing to Jesus’ stewardship parables, to plain instructions in the epistles about using our gifts to glorify God and sharing our monetary resources, the Bible is clear about our stewardship responsibilities.
When it comes to the Lord’s day contribution, the question is often asked, “How much should I give?” There’s no definitive answer with an amount or percentage. It’s more of a matter of looking into our hearts rather than our wallets.
Here are 5 guidelines for giving that hopefully will provide some direction.
#1 Giving is to God.
We talk about giving to the church or helping a needy a saint, or supporting a preacher, but the object of our giving is really God. The contribution is a part of the Lord’s Day worship (1Cor. 16:1). When we fail to give, we’re not shortchanging the church, but robbing God (Mal. 8:3-10).
#2 Giving is based on Personal Prosperity.
The Bible commands us to give “in keeping with our income” (1 Cor. 16:1). You can’t give what you don’t have. They’re other Bible commands regarding supporting our families, paying our taxes, and helping the needy. So, our ability must be considered in view of what we can personally afford.
It’s not about the amount, but the intent of the heart. One unknown sage said, “It’s not what you do with the million if fortune should ere be your lot, but what are you doing at present with the dollar and quarter you got.”
#3 Giving should be planned.
The keyword in this text is “purpose.” This is a decision. It involves choice. Forethought. Evaluation. And resolve. Giving is not an afterthought. Or scrambling to see if we have any cash on us to put something in the plate when it’s passed. Giving is intentional.
#4 Giving should be voluntary
Giving should not be done grudgingly. Half-heartedly. Or reluctantly. Don’t give under compulsion or pressure. Giving should arise from devout desire, not disgruntled duty.
#5 Giving should be cheerful
The Greek word translated “cheerful” is “hilaros.” From it is derived our English word hilarious. It means merry. Joyful. And enthusiastic. Can you give to God with a big grin on your face? Everything in life requires money. This is true in ministry and spiritual matters as well.
When we give, God promises to bless us. We will reap what we sow. In this regard, consider this warning from Peter Marshall: “Give according to your income, lest God make your income according to your giving.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman