Summary: Where do I begin when it comes to financial giving to support God’s work?
Church growth experts have said that there are four things that can work to prevent a church’s growth:
1) A lack of desire to grow;
2) A lack of adequate leadership;
3) A lack of space;
4) A lack of finances.
If there is any one of these factors that might hinder the continued growth of our church, it is the lack of finances. For whether we like to admit it or not, it takes money to finance a church’s ministry.
But this need not be a problem for our church. I believe that God’s financial provision for our church’s ministry lies within the membership of our congregation. That a portion of his financial provision for the ministry of this church has been entrusted to each of us. So, God’s financial provision for the ministry of this church is here.
Whether or not God’s financial provision will be released to support His work through our church is up to us. God has promised to supply His financial provision, He has done His part. Now we must be faithful to do ours. God provides for His work through the lives of obedient people.
The purpose of God’s blessings is to enable us to be a blessing to others through our support of His work.
"And God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need be self-sufficient [possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation]." - 2 Corinthians 9:8 (Amplified)
Notice how Paul tells us that God provides for us so that we might not only have our needs met, but so that through giving, we might be able to bless others. Our focus, however, tends to be primarily on ourselves.
Billy Ray Valentine was the fictitious street beggar in the film Trading Places who experienced an overnight reversal of misfortune. Millionaire brothers Randolph and Mortimer Duke theorized that they could take an underprivileged hoodlum like Billy Ray and transform him into a productive part of their investment empire. They gave him new clothes, a new home, a chauffer driven limousine, a butler, and a prestigious position at their firm.
At first, Billy Ray didn’t get it. When the Duke brothers gave him a tour of his lavish new townhouse in uptown Philadelphia, Billy Ray was covertly stuffing his pockets with anything that wasn’t nailed down. Randolph tried to explain that the whole place belonged to him now. But Billy Ray saw the situation through a different lens. He came from a world of financial fear. He was afraid if he didn’t seize the opportunity to meet his own needs, he might go hungry. And the Duke brothers’ explanations of pork bellies and commodities futures went right over his head. So Billy Ray was focused on whatever loot he could get his hands on: Cuban cigars, fistfuls of chocolates, and gold-plated trinkets that could be traded at the local pawn shop. It was the only way he knew how to operate.
Eventually, Billy Ray caught on. He began to trust what the Dukes were saying and he realized that he no longer had to fear hunger. Before long, he began to shift his focus away from his basic needs and onto the task of managing the affairs of Duke and Duke. Once his perspective changed, he actually became a valuable employee.
I can’t help thinking that many Christians are a lot like Billy Ray Valentine. God wants to entrust vast portions of His empire into our care. Not for our personal consumption, but to be sown for His kingdom work. He wants capable managers to handle His affairs, distribute His wealth, and spread His message. But do we really get it?
Statistics about our giving levels suggest we don’t. We’re surrounded by God’s vast riches and His lavish promises to meet all our needs. He has given us a simple task: to be good stewards of His resources, leveraging His wealth for kingdom gains. You and I need to commit to God’s program for our giving. But where do we begin? The Bible teaches that there are two things involved in God’s program for our giving.
1. The Right Amount.
Is God’s Word very specific about our giving? I believe so. Consider, for example, what instructions Paul gives us in 1 Corinthians 16:2:
"On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income." - 1 Corinthians 16:2 (NIV)
Paul tells us three things about our giving to God’s work:
A. It is to be part of our worship on the Lord’s Day;
B. It is to be through supporting the ministry of our local church;