18th February 2010
Studying, practising and preaching about Christian Giving has brought much joy and blessing both to me personally and to my congregations down the years. I still love to preach on the Biblical principles, practices, privileges, challenge, vision and fruits, and will do so anywhere on request.
In my various pastorates we have had an annual ‘Loyalty Sunday', promoted by a simple, explanatory circular linked to my preaching. We have used weekly envelopes, dated but not numbered, usually without specific pledges (save between a person and the Lord) and without any great organisation or expense. Then the responses have come. Stewardship of giving and serving has improved, God has been glorified, and the church's outreach has been extended. My records reveal that at times we gave away a third of our received income to Church headquarters, various missionary enterprises and other wider ministries that we supported. They were exciting days!
Biblical Stewardship enriches personal and church life. It is not just that the church needs money to reach out to the world's needs, but we Christians need to give for our spiritual life and growth. Remember that Jesus said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35) and Paul wrote how the Macedonian Christians though financially poor first ‘gave themselves to the Lord', then to their ministry of giving (II Corinthians 8:2, 5).
Biblical Stewardship is not a high-pressured extraction of money. It is a simple, sensible and Scriptural lifestyle, a realistic way of revolutionising churches and individuals both spiritually and financially. It liberates time, talents and energies for our worship, witness and outreach. Someone said ‘God gave us two hands: one to receive and one to give. We are not cisterns made for hoarding, but channels made for sharing'. God's work done in God's way will bring God's blessing.
Biblical Stewardship is not the church's way of raising money, but God's way of raising Christians who are responsive to Him, then responsible for Him. They will love Him supremely, thank Him meaningfully, and give to Him sacrificially. Many of us find joy in ‘tithing', which means giving away a tenth out of all that comes to us. We have then proved that God is no one's debtor as richer blessings flow to and through us. Also the other nine-tenths go further! In that context, I warmly invite you, maybe right now, to make a definite resolve - after praying about it. Set aside a worthy proportion of your financial resources to Him (I Corinthians 15:1-2; Malachi 3:10).
The church clearly faces a challenge to love and serve the world, but if it curtails its work because of budget limitations, it is like a hospital only functioning part-time when there is an epidemic. We see God at work when human lives with all their spiritual potential and material resources are lovingly made available to Him. ‘God so loved the world that He gave us... Jesus' (John 3:16) and He calls us so to love it that we give... because of Jesus.
In addition to the Bible verses mentioned above I commend the careful and prayerful reading of II Samuel 24: 24; I Chronicles ch 29, especially vv 5-6, 9-14, 16-18, noting the key words (in NIV) ‘willingly, rejoiced, freely, wholeheartedly, generously'; Matthew 6:33; Romans 12:1-2; I Corinthians 4:7; Ephesians 4:16; I Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19.
Thank you for reading this. May God bless the fruits of it in our lives and service.
Rev. Perry Smith, Belmont, NSW.
2 February 2010