My congregation just launched a capital campaign. And we typically do a stewardship emphasis in November. Money and the church. It’s a sensitive topic. So why should a Christian give to their local church? How does a congregation talk about money?
The giving of a tithe or offering is revelatory. It says something about you. For the Christian, sacrificial giving is:
An Act of Worship
God doesn’t want your money. He wants your heart. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21). An offering is first and foremost an issue of the heart, not the church, bills, or offering plates.
Sacrificial giving is an act of worship that acknowledges where our resources come from and to whom they must be directed (Prov. 3:9). God does not need our money, but giving money as a spiritual discipline is a way in which God shapes and forms us. We actualize a faith that says, “I am dependent on you alone, Lord.”
This view is distinct from donating to charities. There’s a saying, “The world donates, but Christians give sacrificially.” The church is not a charity. God does not need donations. He wants more, your heart. This requires a sacrifice, not left over change tossed in an offering plate.
An Assault on Greed
Our sinful souls regress to greed and gain. To give money away is hard, even painful. Yet this is precisely the spiritual surgery necessary to root out the grip of greed. The first commandment to “have no other gods” is acted upon when we release the gods of currency and control.
An Investment in Ministry
As an act of faith and worship, what your money does is of no consequence. It could be burned in a fire like the temple sacrifice of an animal. But the church DOES NOT burn your offering. We leverage it to accomplish the important ministry that God has placed before us.
We support what we value. Your offering demonstrates that your church matters. It is a tangible and active way in which you directly contribute to gospel-driven ministry. By giving, we declare that we are “in” with our church’s ministry. We do our part to bear the necessary cost of a pastor, building, education, programs, missionaries, community outreach, new ministry initiatives, etc.
A Distinctive Trait of Disciples
Sacrificial giving is a mark that distinguishes followers of Christ in a world of consumerism. Cheerful generosity appears strange when everyone else is hoarding resources. To give away is to witness to the generosity of our Lord, who gave all that we might be rich (II Cor. 8:9).
Tim Keller puts this in historical perspective: “The early church was strikingly different from the culture around it in this way – the pagan society was stingy with its money and promiscuous with its body. A pagan gave nobody their money and practically gave everybody their body. And the Christians came along and gave practically nobody their body and they gave practically everybody their money.” We cannot separate our financial life from our spiritual life. Our faith is revealed by what we do with our money (and bodies).
Sacrificial giving is not a goal that is achieved once-and-for-all. We are faithful and we fail. We are generous and greedy. So we walk the road by faith, in repentance, persistence, and grace.
“The only things we can keep are the things we freely give to God. What we try to keep for ourselves is just what we are sure to lose.” - C.S. Lewis