An aged aunt lived with us for some years before she died. Towards the end of her life she would often mistake teabags for money. When she passed, we tidied her room and found enough Yorkshire Tea stuffed under the mattress to keep a small café in business for weeks! When her will was later read it soon became clear that she had also made some unusual decisions with the actual money she had. While her family were appreciative of the few hundred pounds they were given, the donkeys at Cleveleys lived royally on receipt of their £100,000.
Deciding how much to give and how much to keep for later is a BIG question for us all. But deciding where to give that money is BIG too.
I think the Bible guides us towards regular giving to our church as a priority. But in practice that’s sometimes difficult. Why? Here are three things that might hold us back in giving to church:
1. I like to keep control
"Although a gift, by definition, means relinquishing control, it’s nice to feel that my money is going to carefully targeted causes chosen by me rather than into the church’s general finances where someone else decides what to do with it"
Well, actually, in 1 Chronicles 29:14, King David prays, “But who am I that I am able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand”.
So, from this I’m figuring out that because it belongs to God, stewardship is what’s important not control. Although I dearly want to be able to influence and exert some sway through my giving I’ve got to learn to trust God’s financial strategy.
2. I don’t trust the leaders
"It seems to me that sometimes churches don’t make wise financial choices or I don’t understand their priorities. I’d prefer to decide what needs money, do the due diligence and give directly or pay for things myself. My leaders may be fine people but I’m not sure I should trust them enough to let them spend my money".
Well, actually, there is a direct correlation between trusting your leader with spiritual oversight and with the finances. Paul tells us (1 Timothy 5:17-18) that we should honour the elders and entrust them not just with the affairs of the church but with a decent living for themselves.
The key issue is not whether the leaders are trustworthy but whether or not I trust them. If I don’t trust them with my money how can I trust them with my spiritual life? The two go hand in hand.
3. I lack conviction
"It’s easy for charity appeals to make me feel ashamed if I don’t cough up – whether it’s a someone stopping me on the street , a magazine insert, or the collector at the door. So maybe I should keep something back so I don’t feel guilty?"
Well, actually, Paul teaches us that we should, “give what we have decided in our hearts to give, not reluctantly, nor under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
So, forget the guilt, I am going to proactively seek my Father’s will and make my giving in line with what he says. It usually feels like a sacrifice but it means I can do it cheerfully and guilt-free. I can then feel able to say, “It’s okay, I don’t have to give to this because I have already given where God told me to give.”
Our giving to church should be generous and as we give we will learn to let go, trust our leaders and grow in stewardship confidence. And the result? Paul describes it in 2 Corinthians 9:12, “This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.”
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