This is Part 3 of “How can I know God’s will my life?” This column discusses biblical principles of financial giving. God’s will begins with personally accepting the gift of eternal life through Christ’s payment on the cross. The next step is allowing God to define our priorities.
If we want to avoid becoming enmeshed in materialism, we need to cultivate a godly way to handle our money and material possessions. Our perspective on material and spiritual things is important. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:21). Much of this material is abstracted from our Christian Principles Unit 4 class outline.
7 Biblical Principles for Financial Giving
1. Giving is motivated by grace (2 Corinthians 8:1-4, 9; 9:15).
Wrong motivations characteristic of other religions include,“I give in order to be accepted by God.” Unlike a resentful duty, God wants us to enjoy the privilege of giving. Rather than giving the least we can to keep God and others off our back, under grace we give as much we can.
2. Christians Are Stewards (2 Cor. 8:5).
Everything we have is God’s and not ours. (Psalm 24:1.) We should manage God’s money to advance his kingdom. We will give an account to God for how we spent his money (Matthew. 25:19, 21.).
Owners ask “How much of my money will I give to God?” Stewards ask “How much of God’s money will I keep for myself?”
Owners ask when purchasing “things”—“Will I enjoy this?” and (sometimes), “Can I afford it?” or “Can I make the monthly payment?”
Stewards ask “How will this purchase affect my ability to advance God’s purposes?”
Owners say “My finances and giving are my private business.” Stewards say “I will seek wise counsel so I can be faithful with God’s resources.”
3. Our financial giving is an index of our spiritual vitality and maturity (2 Corinthians 8:7).
While giving is not sufficient for spiritual maturity, not having a sacrificial giving ministry robs us of spiritual vitality. This is why New Testament church leaders must demonstrate consistent and generous giving (1 Timothy 3:3b,8b), be free from the love of money, and be people of dignity.
We should talk about this area with our close Christian friends, instead of making “money talk” off limits like it is in the world. (Dwell's Personal Finance ministry can assist with budget management.)
4. Give according to what you have (1 Corinthians 8:12).
Financial situations vary widely due to many factors–earning power, family size, previous money management. Therefore, it’s impossible and unbiblical to set a monetary standard for what constitutes significant giving. God prizes our readiness to give, not the amount we give.
- Start giving now.
- Choose an amount that affects your lifestyle. An excellent plan is: live NOW in a way that if God called you to full-time ministry, you could do it. Although the tithe is no longer in force, 10 percent of our gross income is a good rule of thumb and feasible for many of us as a starting point.
- Discuss this with the family.
- Incorporate your giving as a definite part of your budget — give “off the top” at the beginning of the month or pay period (1 Corinthians 16:2).
- Be faithful to this commitment even when unexpected needs arise (unless impossible).
5. The needs of others should have a moral bearing on our finances (2 Corinthians 8:13-15).
- We have no right to hoard money or possessions. On the other hand, we shouldn’t let lazy Christians take advantage of others’ generosity (2 Thessalonians 3:6-12; 1 Timothy 5:8,16).
- Live a simple lifestyle. This also applies to DINKS (Dual Income, No Kids). If you unnecessarily put yourself in a position that requires both incomes, you may compromise your relationship with God.
- Learn the plight of the poor. Dwell has ministries like Urban Concern, Youth For Christ and short-term missions trips. Read books by authors who write about poverty. Before you give to an organization, check it out for integrity, amount of overhead, etc.
6. God abundantly blesses the giver (2 Corinthians 9:6, 8-14).
This principle has been abused by “Health and Wealth” preachers. Here is what the apostle Paul actually teaches:
- We may reap increased financial resources to enable us to give more (vs 10a).
- We will reap increased effectiveness for God (vs 10b).
- We will reap the privilege of seeing others affected for Christ (vs 11b-13).
- We will reap increased friends who love us and pray for us (vs 14).
- We will reap increased eternal reward (1 Timothy 6:19).
7. Our first responsibility is to support our local church.
There is a moral obligation to support those from whom you regularly benefit spiritually. (Galatians 6:6; 1 Timothy 5:17,18).