My own journey about giving has certainly not been a smooth, straight path. Early in our marriage, my wife and I irregularly gave to our church. I say irregularly because the amount and frequency was based upon whether or not anything was left over at the end of the month. We only started truly tithing perhaps 15 years ago where we gave of the first fruits of our income.
We have been disciplined and obedient givers to our church and other important causes since then. Quite frankly, the experience has been quite, well, boring. Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly believe that giving is an act of worship. But is giving an act of worship based on what you can see, touch and feel really that impressive? The bottom line is that we usually give based on what we can see. We are giving based upon a percentage of what we earn. It’s tangible. I can calculate that if I give this much I will have so much left over for my bills this month. It's the risk free investment in God. Our giving has been based on logic not on faith.
Are we limiting what God can do through our gifts by not giving based on faith? Are we missing the true blessing of giving by giving what we know to be tangible or logical? We know our God is all-knowing and all-powerful; what He can do is limitless. Yet, I am reminded of the parable Jesus told of the widow giving two coins as an offering at the temple. I am guessing she had no tangible idea where her next meal was to come from yet she gave most if not all that she had. She gave in faith. She had faith that God would provide her every need. In your own giving, are you giving out of obedience or out of faith?
Have you ever considered the impact Christians could have on the world if we made it a habit to give a faith-derived gift of our time, talent and treasure? The impact for the Kingdom would be almost immeasurable. Consider this, if only half of the readers of this magazine would commit to giving $5/month to either a church or charity, more than $3,000,000 would be donated annually. That could go a long way to meeting the needs of others or sharing Christ in Austin. Yet why won't we do it? In a recent book, Passing the Plate, the authors assert that 71% of Christians give less than 2% of their income to church or charitable organizations. Twenty-five percent of Christians give nothing at all. If Christians in the United States were to begin to give generously, not excessively but just a little more than current giving levels, the impact could be in the hundreds of billions of dollars annually.
Starting this month I encourage you to take a radical step in your family's finances...Give First and Give Generously. Make a faith-based habit of giving.
You see, the popular culture encourages us to focus on "Me" first. We need that new car, we need a bigger house, we need to make sure the kids are in baseball, soccer, ballet and taking piano lessons. Yet, we live in the wealthiest country in the world, in the most materialistic time in history. And, we are inundated with more than 5000 marketing messages a day encouraging us to spend and worry about the cost tomorrow. But what is the real cost? What opportunities and blessings from God are we passing up because of our focus on accumulating stuff?
Adopting a faith-based approach toward giving starts with an acknowledgement that God created everything; we were created in His image; God owns everything and we are Trustees, not owners. The very first verse in the Bible (Genesis 1:1) tells us that God created everything. Scripture also says that He owns everything in Psalm 24:1.
What we have is given to us in order to manage it on His behalf. Some might call it stewardship. Stewardship allows the gifts we have been given, not to flow to us but throughus for the benefit of others.
Once we understand where everything comes from and the concept of stewardship, the first step in God’s design for our finances is fairly easy to grasp. But if you are still not convinced that giving should come first, ask yourself these questions: “Did God give His best first or last?”; “Did He give to us ‘sparingly’ or ‘generously’?”. If you attended Sunday School as a child, it is quite likely the very first verse you learned to recite was John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he GAVE his one and only son…”. Giving back first helps us keep the right attitude toward our finances and serves as a reminder from where the blessing came.
Ask God what He wants you to give. Give generously in a way that only God can provide. Giving based on faith will not only provide for the needs of others but grow your faith as well.