So what’s the deal about giving?
Money is a hugely sensitive subject in our culture, yet embracing God’s plan for our finances is one of the most liberating things we can do.
The most important thing to say on this subject is this – and please remember this – the church doesn’t want your money, God wants your heart. That you’re trusting Him first.
Jesus talked a lot about money. Nearly half of all Jesus parables (16 out of 38) are concerned with how we handle money. At a wider level the Bible has more than 2,350 verses on money and possessions compared with 500 verses on prayer.
It seems that the message of Jesus, and the Bible, is that there is nothing more powerful than money that can draw us away from our relationship with God. It’s so easy for money to become an idol.
1 Chronicles 29:11-12 reminds us that everything belongs to God. And so, if everything belongs to God, including our money and possessions, then the question we should ask is not ‘Lord, what do you want me to do with my money?’. The question should be ‘Lord, what do you want me to do with your money?’
Fundamentally, we have to choose whether we put our trust in God, or money, to take care of us.
When we sacrifice our finances, we’re demonstrating that we’re trusting God – that He will ultimately take care of us AND we’re committing to what He is doing in the world, through His church.
At Zeo Church, we have 5 simple biblical principles around giving our money…
1. Give generously
Proverbs 11:25 tells us that “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”
We serve a wonderfully generous God who holds nothing back from us. Every good thing we have is from Him. We are blessed by God to be a blessing. Being generous breaks the power of selfishness because we put the needs of others before ourselves.
2. Give what you can, not what you can’t
Deuteronomy 16:17 offers some good advice on what we should give.
“Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you.”
God doesn’t want anyone to get into debt. We can only give out of the money that God has given us. As you consider your giving, consider these 3 Ps…
- The priority of giving – give first, save second and live on the rest. Often, if we’re honest, we often do it the other way round.
- The percentage of giving – the starting point for giving in the bible is 10% – which is called a tithe. Infact, in the New Testament, we’re encouraged to stretch way beyond this. 10% is a great starting point BUT if you can’t start there, start somewhere, and aim to grow to a tithe (and beyond).
- The progression of giving – this is the challenge to increase the percentage of your giving every year.
3. Prioritise your giving to the local church
Malachi 3:10 has a challenging command and a great promise. In fact, giving the tithe is the only place in scripture where we’re invited to test God to see what He will do. It 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 there will not be room enough to store it.”
Some Christians decide to split their tithe and give some to the church and some to other causes. In both Old and New Testament, we see the tithe coming to the local expression of the church or faith community. We can give over and above this elsewhere, but we believe at Zeo that we should prioritise our tithe to the local church.
Why? Two reasons…
- Firstly, this is our church family. If we love being part of the Zeo family, and believe in what the family is doing, then our priority should be to ensure the family is taken care of. We give to support the work of what God is doing through this local church.
- Secondly, who else is going to give to Zeo but you and I? People who don’t come to Zeo won’t give to Zeo. National or global charities can benefit from people giving all over the country but the bottom line is that a local church depends on the giving of its own people.
My personal philosophy has always been that I want to give at least 10% of my income to the local church and then give to other charities over and above this AND I’m committed to increase my giving to Zeo every year. Is that easy? No way! Which brings me to my next point…
4. Give sacrificially
In 2 Corinthians 8:1-5, the Apostle Paul reminds us of the power of sacrificial giving…
“Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia. They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity. For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem. They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do.”
Giving has to cost us something. It’s supposed to be a sacrifice.
The churches in Macedonia went without stuff so that the work of God could grow. I have some good friends who used to have two cars but they downsized to one car. It was a huge sacrifice and a struggle but they did it to save money for a once-in-a-lifetime holiday. Maybe you’ve done something similar. I know I have. But when was the last time I went without something so that the work of God could be blessed? Again, I’m not talking about the basic necessities of life (food, housing etc) but I am making the point that our giving should be sacrificial.
5. Give joyfully
In 2 Corinthians 9:7 the Apostle Paul reminds us that we should never give reluctantly, or out of pressure or manipulation. Our giving, although a sacrifice, should be a great joy.
“You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure, for God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”
This verse speaks for itself. Be thrilled that you can give to enable the work of God. Your investment in the Kingdom of God is the only financial investment you’ll ever make that will impact eternity.
Giving our money is a key way we show God we trust Him and that we’re committed to His local church at Zeo. So, let’s grow in our commitment to give generously, proportionately, locally, sacrificially, and joyfully.