The starting point for any discussion on Christian Giving is generosity; not our generosity but God's - God's generosity to us.
The good news of the gospel is that God is generous; extraordinarily, extravagantly and sacrificially generous. And perhaps the most amazing thing of all is that we are on the receiving end of the total generosity of God's love and goodness. Indeed, all that we have comes from God.
The challenge for us as Christians is in the way in which we respond to God's generosity. How should we be using our time, energy, skills, money and possessions? Everything that we have should be offered back to God to be used in his service; devoted to the work of his kingdom, and to living and sharing the gospel. And ‘everything' includes our money.
God has given us, his church, all that we need to do the work that he has set before us. This means, in fact, that we already have all the money that we need. The problem is that we would rather keep it to ourselves; we are reluctant to give a proportion back to him, for the work of His Kingdom and for the ministry and mission of our church.
The characteristics of Christian giving
The New Testament provides us with some clear guidance. Our giving should be:
- Proportional (2 Corinthians 8: 1-5)
A thought about, prayed about proportion of what we have. Scripture urges us to tithe; to give back to God a tenth of all that we earn. Our Diocese recommends that we aim at giving 5% of our net income to and through the church.
- Planned and regular (1 Corinthians 16: 1-2)
Set aside and given weekly or monthly.
- Generous (Romans 12: 8)
A real response to the God who gives and loves to give.
- Cheerful (2 Corinthians 9: 7)
Given simply, openly and willingly; delighting in being able to support the Mission and Ministry of the church.
From time to time we all need to consider how our giving measures up to these benchmarks. This should be done thoughtfully and prayerfully before God, in the knowledge that no one is going to tell us how much to give.
It is for each one of us, guided by the Holy Spirit, to set a level of giving to God and His church that is appropriate for us.