The Bible has a lot to say about money and wealth, and specifically the subject of generosity. There is no question that the way we handle our money individually and as a church community says a lot about our spiritual commitment and our priorities. I have been challenged by this statement lately as I think about vision: If we are going to be a church that makes a deep impact in Northeast Florida and beyond, we must allow the gospel to shape our view of money and wealth.
When you come to the two most comprehensive New Testament chapters on the subject of giving, in 2 Corinthians 8 and 9, you see that giving is often times counterintuitive. It goes against the grain of the way that the natural mind thinks and is often a paradox. Paul, in writing about generous giving, gives a number of principles.
Our giving should be purposeful – When you purpose in your heart to give, you are intentional. I have learned that Sunday morning church attendance is a Saturday night decision. What you do not plan and purpose to do is not likely to get done. Regular financial giving in support of the work of the church is a premeditated decision. You have to have a plan and you must purpose in your heart that you are going to be a giver. That means that however you give (whether with envelopes or by online giving), you should have a plan. If you are going to give, then you need to purposefully create a budget that allows giving to be a part of your plan.
Our giving should be sacrificial – The people mentioned in 2 Corinthians were not just giving out of their abundance and overflow; they were actually giving out of their own poverty. Giving is sacrificial which means that it always pushes you to the edge of faith. In order for you to do that, you must not allow luxuries to become necessities. Instead, you willingly live a little below what you could live so that you can give in order that others might experience life change.
Our giving should be joyful – God loves a cheerful giver. You do not get joy because of what you gave up by giving. You get joy by seeing and experiencing what your giving actually accomplishes. When you see people commit their life to Jesus Christ, you can know that people are going to be in heaven because of your generosity. When you see people follow the Lord in baptism, then you know that people are experiencing life change because you are supporting the work of the church. This is where your joy comes from.
The number one reason most people do not give generously is that they do not have a plan or margin in their budget to be able to give. Dave Ramsey, perhaps the most well-known Christian financial teacher said this, “If you cannot live off 90% of your income, then you cannot live off 100% of your income.” You are not likely to give more than your plan allows.
For a good rule of thumb for your personal finances, I love the idea of 10/10/80. That means that we give 10%, save 10%, and live off 80%. Here is what that looks like for us.
- Giving first – honors God. We have a give-first God and we should be a give-first church.
- Saving second – creates margin. Your plan should allow for you to both prepare for the unknown and for the future by maintaining financial margin in your life.
- Live on the rest – teaches contentment. You will learn to value simplicity and live within your means.
My prayer is that our church would be known for being radically generous, and that we would be able to look into the future by faith and see that we are able to impact NE Florida and beyond because our view of money and wealth was shaped by the gospel.
C.S. Lewis said, “I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare.”