One of the questions I get regularly starts something like, “I’m just a. . .college student. . .high schooler. . .teacher with student debts. . . how should I think about giving?” This question is similar for those who are elderly or who are facing some sort of personal financial strain or who are wealthy with a California mortgage, or comfortably middle class.
One thing that has been true about God’s people for all times is that God commends those who give generously, regardless of their circumstances. Remember Jesus sitting at the temple in Mark 12 watching the givers? The wealthy and the poor widow both gave, but the widow was commended for her generosity.
How should we think about our own giving? I don’t have a formula or a clear target percentage for you, but Scripture does speak to the motives and purposes of our giving.
Giving is expected of God’s people. The Old Testament consistently reports that God’s people dedicated gifts and tithes to Him. The annual festivals, harvests, and even the birth of children were celebrated with offerings to the service of the Lord. Within the Gospels, Jesus recognized the gifts of people at the temple and clarified that the heart-motivation behind the giving is vitally important. (Lev 22, 2 Cor 9:7)
Giving demonstrates our dependance on God as both a reflection of stewardship and an act of worship. Everything that any believer has belongs to God. He has entrusted His people with possessions so that they might honor Him. Whether in large or small amounts, the believer who gives with thankfulness (Psalm 50) demonstrates the greatness of God by declaring His care and provision. (Mt. 6:19-21). How you handle your money will reveal where your treasure is.
Giving provides for the work of the church and the care of those in need. The benevolence of God’s people has been expected to supply for the needs of the church as well as the foreigners, widows, and those impacted by poverty. Giving forces our eyes off our own needs to see God provide through us to others. (Deut 26:12, 1 Tim 6:17-19, James 1:27)
The simple act of regular giving can bring remembrance of God’s provision–spiritual and physical. The generous stewardship of what He has provided truly brings joy as we worship Him through cheerful giving.
How can you get started?
- Pray for wisdom. Ask the Lord to grant you an understanding of how best to use what He has given you for His sake.
- Examine your budget. Where are the padded parts of your spending? Craft Coffee? TV subscriptions? Where can you trim back to be able to give more? (Don’t have a budget? Start here with this link for a simple software app from Dave Ramsey that will help to tame your spending.) If you are mindlessly spending cash on an amble through Target, here is a great opportunity to change that!
- Give to your church first. Church is your home, your family; it is the place of your soul’s tending and growth. Giving to the Lord for the maintenance of those who care for your soul is of first importance. What percentage you ask? The New Testament doesn’t specify a percentage, however, the joyful, generous meeting of needs within the congregation is assumed and reported throughout.
- Support what God is doing around the world. There are still 3.5 BILLION people who haven’t heard who Jesus is even once. Every Christian has a responsibility to be involved in changing that. Whether you would like to support an individual missionary (maybe someone your church supports? or contact me, I am always working with someone who is raising support–just name your country!) and/or an organization like Children’s Hunger Fund that supports churches around the world, giving to missions will be a joy.
- Give something–start somewhere! When I was serving as a missionary, my very first supporter was an elderly retired man who gave $10 a month. No gift brought more joy (or accountability) to me during those years.
- Recognize that biblical hospitality is a form of giving. Inviting people into your home or helping a family with a meal are great ways to meet needs and serve.
- Ask God for opportunities to increase your giving. Have you saved on your cell phone plan? Reduced your coffee expenditures? Received a financial gift? Did you get a raise? Give your church or missionaries a “raise.” Maybe you read about a disaster somewhere? Find a church or organization to help rebuild.
Please know, there is great joy in giving God’s money back to His work. You won’t regret giving well!
For more resources on giving, check out this book by Randy Alcorn: The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving.
Also, this reflection from Tim Challies was challenging to my heart as I consider my own giving!
All photos in this post are from BiblePlaces.com, resources for the Bible student and teacher to gain greater understanding of the Scriptures with verse-by-verse photos and maps.