Today, Christian people hold untold quantities of wealth never before imagined. The average Christian teenager in America often has more disposable cash income — ($1,500.00 +/-) than fifty percent (50%) of the world's population. But, while Christian wealth has increased in America, most Christian leaders ignore teaching the biblical imperatives of giving.
This seriously impacts our ability to further the spread of the gospel to hurting, confused and broken people. A materialistic undertow threatens the spiritual vitality and financial stability of our mission and ministry. A recent study discovered that, although seventeen percent (17%) of Christians say they tithe, only three percent (3%) actually give ten percent (10%) of their income to the church.
Here are 7 principles of Christian giving:
1. GIVE TO GOD FIRST
By making a spiritual decision to give to God first you learn more about the love, care and reality of God our heavenly Father than through other spiritual disciplines. You see how big God can be in your life. I Kings 17 tells about the widow and her son who were about to eat their last meal and die because of the severe famine in the land. The widow gave to God's servant, Elijah, first before caring for her own needs, and God worked miraculously so: "the jar of the flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry. "
2. GIVE TO GOD SYSTEMATICALLY
Christians who do not have a regular way of laying aside the first of what they receive from the Lord often feel pressed and confused when it comes to giving. Many people making good incomes experience no joy in giving because they have not made a plan to systematically and faithfully give to God's work.
3. GIVE TO GOD CHEERFULLY
Cor. 9:8 tells us: "God loves a cheerful giver. " A Christian businessman once said: "I shovel out and God shovels in — but God's shovel is much bigger." We can trust that, as we give, God will meet our needs — sometimes in special ways. Times and circumstances arise when it seems to make no sense to give to the Lord, yet, God wants us to give at these times when the reality is that we are totally dependent upon Him to meet our basic needs.
4. GIVE TO THE LORD REGARDLESS OF YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES
We have many reasons (excuses!) for not giving to the Lord — debts, financial obligations, lack of income are only a few. But under the surface we do not give because we do not trust God enough as our provider, In Malachi 3 God says: "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it." God will prove himself as we trust Him in our giving.
5. GIVE TO GOD PROPORTIONALLY
Deut. 16:10, 16-17 says: "...give a free will offering in proportion to the blessings the Lord your God has given you. No man shall appear before the Lord empty-handed. Each one of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you. " The best way to give to the Lord is to see clearly what he has given us and set aside the first portion to give back to His mission as He directs.
6. GIVE TO GOD THOUGHTFULLY
Haggai, in the first chapter, says: "Is it time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while (God's temple) remains a ruin? Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: 'Give careful thought to your ways ... you earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it. You expected much; but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why? ... because of my House which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house. Therefore ... / called for a drought ...on the labor of your hands.' " The Old and New Testaments both teach that when we withhold our giving from God, we are opening ourselves up to destructive spiritual forces. God desires to care for us. But if we choose not to acknowledge Him in our giving, then money we try to hold onto runs through our fingers and is never enough.
/ Tim 6:18-19 says: " Command those who are rich ...to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way, they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age."
From an investor's perspective, giving to the Lord's work is the safest and wisest investment we can make. "For God is not unfair. He will not forget the love you showed for Him by the help you gave and are still giving your fellow Christians."
What should you do about tithing? If you have not already done so, make a spiritual decision today to set aside ten percent (10%) of your income and assets for God's work. Give faithfully, generously and cheerfully to the Lord's work through the Reformed Episcopal Church.
Others have said:
— Billy Graham
in God's hands — that, I still possess."
— Martin Luther
The Rev. Canon Peter M. Norman
(Canon Norman is a Reformed Episcopal semi-retired presbyter from Columbus, Ohio)