We live in times where people are a bit skeptical about the church's approach to money. And whilst there certainly have been churches around the world that have promoted a "health and wealth Gospel" that is not the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, we still need to know - what is a healthy and biblical perspective of giving to the church?
A Helpful Link
If you want a balanced approach to the subject of tithing and giving from a biblical perspective, I can recommend this article on the website of the Tithe.ly, an American organisation that has created a easy way for people to give to their church online and via their app. Full disclosure - Tithe.ly is an organisation that helps people and churches in their efforts to give. This being noted, the article is balanced, comprehensive, and does not pressure you to give as a result of what they have written. It's more of a study, but if you seriously want to grapple with the why behind giving to church, go for it!
A Biblical Example
I cannot help but look briefly at the example of the Macedonian Church in 2 Corinthians 8. Check out their heart to give in the early verses of chapter 8:
"And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people." [2 Corinthians 8:1-4]
I encourage you to read this whole account of the Macedonian church's generosity, which goes from chapter 8 through chapter 9. But a few quick notes will encourage us all:
Giving is a grace from God - Yes, we are all called to cultivate a generous life. But God is the one that moves our hearts, and gives us the faith and skills to cultivate generosity the way He has designed. If you just rely upon your heart to want to give without God's empowering grace, you'll find it hard, nigh impossible to give consistently and generously.
Giving is not about the amount - the Macedonian church was generous not because of the amount they gave, but because of their wholehearted sacrifice. Paul is clearly in awe of their giving, considering them to have given beyond what they naturally were able to. Note - This is not to encourage us to be foolish or pressured in our giving, for Paul clearly teaches otherwise in 2 Corinthians 9:6-9.
Giving is a service - In this particular instance, the giving that was being rallied was for the poor and desperate Jerusalem Church. But our giving can serve many different purposes, including: the building up of the church; the empowerment of the mission of the church; the resourcing of the church to serve the community; the resourcing of the church for future ministry and mission projects. These are all ways that our giving at church, across our locations, is a service to God and His purposes on the Earth.
As we prepare to give this Sunday and every Sunday, I pray that we would give not reluctantly or under compulsion, but as cheerful givers who urgently want to join in helping what God is doing through His church on the Earth!
Pressing into the grace of giving with you all!!!