Giving…the subject that no one wants to address in churches. Pastors are shy to speak about it, and church attenders do not really want to hear about it. However, scripture is pretty clear that giving is an area where we are all called to be obedient. Jesus talks about money more than he talks about heaven and hell combined. Why? I believe it’s because He knows how easy it is for money to get a grip on our hearts. I believe that is especially true in 21st century America, but from biblical accounts it’s been true for thousands of years. So I want to provide some simple questions that you and your family can reflect on as you seek to be obedient in this area.
- Have you prayed about what to give?
Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
2 Corinthians 9:7 (ESV)
I know that we are quick to answer this question with a hearty yes, but really consider this. Have you spent any significant time in prayer about what you should give? If you are simply putting whatever extra cash you have in your wallet into the offering basket, most likely you haven’t considered what you should give, but instead are giving under compulsion or reluctantly. The scripture says we need to decide in our hearts what to give, and that must come through careful consideration and prayer. Prayer is also what can lead us to be cheerful givers. It’s not easy to part with money, especially when there are bills to pay and mouths to feed, but we can ask God what we should give and for the joy that can come from giving. We are abiding in Christ as we go to Him in prayer and giving will help us grow in communion with Him.
- What is your motivation to give?
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.
2 Corinthians 8:9 (ESV)
I’m afraid that many in our churches give out of obligation. Although I do believe that giving is an important part of obedience and discipleship, obligation should never be the underlying motivator. Our motivation to give should be the gospel, the incredible reality of what Christ has done for us. The awesome truth that Christ gave up everything for us should be our motivation. Richness in this life does not come through being successful and having a high-paying job, it comes through Christ and Christ alone. For that reason, we can give freely in response to what Christ has done for us.
- Are you holding back out of fear?
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
Luke 12:32 (ESV)
Let’s be honest, fear holds us back from doing a lot of things for the kingdom of God. Fear keeps us from evangelizing, confessing, repenting, trusting, discipling, etc. It also holds us back from giving. We are afraid that there will not be enough left to pay the bills, enough left to get the kids some new clothes, or enough left to have a little fun. However, all throughout scripture we see the promise that God will provide everything that his children need, and that as we see in the verse above, he delights in doing so. Trust that God will do just as He promises (and He always does), and do not let fear hold you back from being obedient in the area of giving. Sometimes actually taking the step of giving will increase your trust in the promises of God and help you overcome fear.
- Is there anything you can give up or sell?
“Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
Luke 12:33-34 (ESV)
Jesus tells us that where we spend our money, our heart will be. Seems like it should be the other way around does it not? The reality is that the things we invest in with our money become the things that we are invested in with our hearts. This is why Jesus stresses for us to invest in “moneybags” that do not grow old, invest in the kingdom of God that will not fade away, instead of earthly things that are here today and gone tomorrow. Invest your money in the local church and watch God increase your passion and love for the local church. With that in mind, is there anything that you can give up or perhaps even get rid of that would help you make an investment in the local church? Most of us have things laying around we could get rid of, or things like eating out or visiting the coffee shop that we could sacrifice for the sake of the Kingdom, or maybe we could sacrifice something much greater. Through prayer and conversation with your family, consider what would be a sacrifice that you could make.