God and Money (pt2) | Generosity
This is part 2 in a four part series. Click HERE to read Part 1
As we talked about in Part 1, God created an ideal design for all of our lives - including our finances. And when we go against His design, we find ourselves broken and in need of His healing, forgiveness, and grace. We cover last week how we find this healing and hope, but in these next 3 parts, we’ll be covering 3 aspects of how to correctly handle our finances...
It All Starts With Generosity
We were created to enjoy God’s blessings (including finances), and to worship Him with His blessings - and generosity helps us strike this balance.
Basically, when we are generous we…
- Become more thankful for what we already have
- Keep ourselves from worshiping money over God
God's Design For Giving
Before we get into the blessings of giving and practical action steps, we need to remember that God also simply tells us to give - and we shouldn’t diminish this.
And, let’s not forget that we can trust that God gives us commands not arbitrarily, but because they are good for us and will bring us fruit and joy and growth in the end. Even when we don’t see how that is possible, we should trust and obey him. As it’s been said…
"God’s past faithfulness demands our present trust."
Yes, there are many blessings, but let’s remember that we don’t follow God simply because we know of tangible blessings, but because we are creation and He is Creator. He not only created us, but sustains our life - and He promises that He cares for us and loves us.
When we read verses like Proverbs 3:9, "Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce,” we should remember that even if we don’t know why - we should obey God and trust Him.
Additional verses to consider are…
- Deuteronomy 15:7
- Proverbs 21:26
- Acts 20:35
Even still, God does promise blessings to come with generosity, so let’s encourage ourselves with them.
The Blessings Of Giving
God set up generosity as a way for us to guard our hearts. It was a way to remind ourselves that everything we have is a gift from Him. This helps to keep us from pride, and helps us focus on the Giver (God) rather than the things He gives.
Basically, giving is God’s way of making sure we don’t forget that all of our life is meant to be about a relationship with Him.
Paul reminds us in 1 Timothy how money can become a cancer in our hearts, and ruin our lives...
“But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world... For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” 1 Timothy 6:6-10
To guard ourselves from these pains and evils, God gives us a way to continually cleanse our hearts of the love of money… by giving it away.
Here’s some more examples of the blessings we find when we give generously…
- Contentment: 1 Tim 6:6-10, Hebrews 13:5
- Humility: Deuteronomy 8:11-19, Proverbs 11:28
- Faith: Hebrews 11:1, 6, Malachi 3:6-10
- Growing Our Affections (towards God): Matthew 6:19-24, Ecclesiastes 5:10, Luke 12:15
How Much Should I Give?
When asking this question, we need to realize that there are two parts to this answer. There was the law, and there is grace. Although we are under grace, there is still much to be learned from the law, as God tells us that He has fulfilled it, but not simply done away with it. It can still be a good guide to see the heart of God in different areas of our lives.
The baseline we see in scripture is the tithe (10% of your income), which is meant to go to local ministries to help provide for the practical needs of the ministries and their leaders.
God initially setup the tithe (10% of income before taxes and expenses) in the Old Testament to provide for the temple and the priests. Although we’re not under the law, we see that Jesus encourages the tithe throughout his ministry:
- Jesus encourages the tithe: Luke 11:42, Matthew 23:23
- Jesus encourages “above and beyond” the law: Matthew 5:21-28
In scripture, we even see that no one is exempt, even the priests (and today’s pastors) are told to tithe: Numbers 18:26.
In addition to the tithe, there were many other offerings and profit sharing commands for the general people. In total, these instructions for generosity averages to be about 30% of all income. (Genesis 31:43, Exodus 30:13, Leviticus 1:3, 2, 4:1-4, 6:5-7, 19:9, 25:4).
The Church (Under Grace)
But since we are no longer under the law - so what do we do about giving?
For starters, we are still told that we ought to give in these 4 ways…
- Generously/Sacrificially: Proverbs 21:26, 2 Corinthians 8:1-5, Mark 12:41-44
- Strategically: 1 Corinthians 16:1-3
- Secretly: Matthew 6:1-4
- Joyfully: 1 Corinthians 13:3, 2 Corinthians 9:6-7
We know from 1st Corinthians 13:3 that all giving is useless if not done in love, but that doesn’t mean we should be slack in giving - all the more, we should strive to give abundantly and sacrificially.
As a side note, consider what it means to give “joyfully.” This doesn’t mean that we only give when it’s convent and we can be happy about it.
In regards to our walk of faith, we’re reminded in Hebrews 12:2 that we ought to be…
“Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Jesus had “joy set before Him” as He endured the cross. In Jesus’ most sacrificial and painful experience on earth, He found joy in His giving of His life. How? Because He knew the result of His giving.
And it's the same for us.
Giving can be extremely painful. It can be difficult to give to God first and sacrificially.
But when we focus on The Giver, and we remember the importance of seeking Him with all of our lives, and the blessing of being near Him.
We can give joyfully, even when it’s hard.
And this leads us to another question...
Where Should I Give To?
Generally, there’s no hard fast rule for how much, or where we should give (because, we do live under grace). However, here’s some examples we see in scripture.
To Your Local Church
Just as the law said to give to the temple, we see that the early church kept this focus of giving to local ministries, and to help expand God’s Kingdom by supporting ministries in other areas. The funds given to the local ministries was then distributed in three main ways:
- Leadership: Numbers 18:21, 1 Timothy 5:17-18
- Missions/Other Ministries: 1 Corinthians 16:1-3, 2 Corinthians 11:8
- Benevolence: Acts 4:35
Many people decide to have 10% give to their local church, and then to give above and beyond to other ministries and additional benevolence as we’ll see below. Personally, my wife and I feel called to give more than 10% to our local church and then to give even more to other ministries and as we see need around us.
The amount has very little to do with the heart behind it, as we saw Jesus rebuke the Pharisees because they may have given a lot, but it was considered little to them and so it wasn’t sacrificial. The important thing is that our giving is causing us to refocus on God.
As You See Need
In addition to giving to local and distant ministries, we see God has also asked us to simply be generous to those around us as we see need. This doesn’t mean you have to, or even should, give to every person in every situation, but it should definitely be something on your heart and something you do regularly.
Here’s some verses that talk about this calling to be generous to others: Deuteronomy 15:11, Proverbs 14:31, Isaiah 58:6-10, Ezekiel 16:49,Matt 25:31-46, Luke 10:25-37, James 2:15-17, 1 John 3:17
Are You Growing In Giving?
This is the most important question we can ask ourselves.
It’s interesting how we know we ought to grow in patience, mercy, grace, forgiveness, serving, reading our Bibles, prayer… but rarely do we think about growing in our giving.
Above all, the Bible challenges us to continue to grow in our walk with Jesus, to grow in faith.
Maybe that $20 a week you use to give doesn’t seem as much of a stretch anymore. I’d encourage you to give more. To stretch your faith.
We’re told in Hebrews 11:6 that it is impossible to please God without faith, and it is entirely possible for us to give without having faith. People give to nonprofits and others all the time without faith, and so can we.
So consider if your level of giving has become stagnate. My wife and I personally reevaluate our giving yearly to make sure that we are still acting in faith and giving sacrificially. (We do these on a more regular basis in conversations, but we specifically set aside time to pray about it and consider with the start of each year). Sometimes we increase our percentage of giving, other times we don’t - the important thing to remember is that we need to always be acting in faith and growing in our walk with Jesus.
I don’t know where you are in your giving, but I can tell you that God says He gives mercy to the humble, and when we submit our finances to Him, we are acting in humility towards Him.
Maybe you’ve never given sacrificially before, I’d encourage you to start today. Maybe you currently give, but feel like it’s no longer sacrificial, I’d encourage you to pray and ask God what you should do. Maybe you feel like you’re in amazing place in your giving and growing in faith towards God - keep going and don’t give up.
Regardless of your next step let us remember giving’s purpose to draw us nearer to our Creator and to bring our hearts in line with His.
As we’ll cover budgeting and savings next, let us continually ask for grace to steward God’s money well in our generosity, spending, and saving.