A Revealing Question
The following was written by Steve Wright for the January 2016 Wintonbury Connection.
Cliffe Knechtle, a pastor in southern Connecticut, admitted that he often asks himself a haunting question regarding money: “Why do I keep as much as I do?” And it haunts me as well. How much we should give as Christians has always been a tough question, and one that often gives us a deep glance into our soul.
In the Old Testament days, there were mandatory giving requirements such as the Lord’s tithe (Num. 18:21-29), the Festival tithe (Deut. 12:10-18), the Poor tithe (Deut. 14:28- 29, Lev. 19:9-10), the Firstfruit offerings (Num. 18:11-13), and the Freewill offerings (Ex. 25:1- 2, 36:2-7). But are those mandatory givings still obligatory for us today, and are there new standards of giving?
While we can disagree that tithing is still required of us today (please do your own study on what the Jesus said about tithing), one passage is very instructive. Let’s breakdown 2 Corinthians 9:6-7:
“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”
Our giving has an impact on how we will be rewarded, either in this life or in eternity. If we are stingy with our money then God will be stingy with His blessings. That is the downside. But if we are generous with our giving then God will be generous in His blessings. Let that upside be a motivation! While a certain percentage or amount may or may not be mandated to us as followers of Christ, a guiding principle is very clear: generous giving means sacrificial giving.
Read 2 Corinthians 8 to see how a very poor church in Macedonia gave above and beyond their means. Paul then charges the church in Corinth, and us today, to
“see that you also excel in this grace of giving” (v7).
Then God will reward us for our giving in proportion to the generosity we show.
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give…”
First, each of us should give: no one is exempt and there is no income ceiling nor income floor. When the widow gave all that she had (Mark 12:41-44), all of small coins, Jesus didn’t tell her to keep it. Instead He commended her for her faith having given all that she had to live on. What love for God! What trust in Him!
All of us, no matter what our financial lot in life, must give the first fruits of what we have (Prov. 3:9-10). Second, our giving should be “decided” through contemplation and prayer, directed by the Holy Spirit. It is His money, and we should seek His direction on using it.
Finally, it is a heart issue. In Matthew 6:21, Jesus said that where our treasure is, there our heart will also be. Our giving is an outpouring of what is in our heart.
“Not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Above all, our giving should be a “free-will” offering. Considering how much God has done for you, and how much He loves you, your giving is an expression of the true level of your thankfulness. Do this with a cheerful heart, and give back to your Abba Father freely and with a glad heart.
I am reminded of the old Grinch cartoon movie where he triumphantly comes riding back into Who-ville having been giving a new heart! This is how we should approach our giving! While you and I may never come to a satisfactory answer to the question of how much of our money we should keep, let me close by offering two questions that that can guide you:
1. How much do you owe God?
2. How much do you trust Him to provide for your needs?
I said they were guiding questions, not easy ones. God bless you as you come to your own convictions, and may you give generously with a cheerful heart.