A GUIDE TO CHRISTIAN GIVING
During his ministry, Jesus Christ taught extensively about money and possessions.
He warned clearly about the danger of loving money more than God; he urged his followers to store up eternal treasure in heaven; he lovingly taught about the importance of being generous with what God has given; he commanded his disciples to make the growth of God’s Kingdom their priority in life.
It is this Christ-centered generosity, which will hopefully be at the heart of all our giving. Yet we all know it’s a confusing and controversial topic.
This article aims to outline some basic Biblical principles for Christians, with regard to giving:
1: Give because of the Gospel
Christians are those who have grasped just how generous God was when he sent his Son to die as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. Christians are those who realise that “though he was rich, yet for [our] sakes he became poor” (2 Cor 8:9). And so, in response to the immense generosity of their Father God, Christians will in turn be givers. The Apostle Paul calls on each Christian to give what he has decided in his heart to give (2 Cor 9:7).
You may have recently become a Christian. You may have joined St Peters in the last few months and have not yet thought this through. You may have been here for ages and have just never got round to it. You may think that the amount you can afford to give will make no difference. But the Bible is clear: every Christian should consider the gift of God’s Son and, in response, give.
Consider the great example of the impoverished Macedonians, as described by Paul: “Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people.” (2 Cor 8:4) What a thought! These Christians pleaded with Paul to give their money away. For them, giving to the gospel cause was a privilege and a way of expressing their partnership in the growth of God’s Kingdom.
2: Give generously & sacrificially
In the Old Testament, God commanded his people to give at least a tenth (‘tithe’) of all their produce to God, in joyful response to his blessings to them. Much of the tithe went towards supporting the priests and Levites who served them in God’s work, and through them, to the poor in the community (e.g. Numbers 18, Deuteronomy 26).
So, how much should “New Testament” Christians give?
The New Testament never stipulates percentages but we suggest a minimum of 10%. After all, can you imagine the disciples (of Jewish background) giving less than their previous tithe after they became Christian? (i.e. After they realised that God had so generously given his only Son to die for them.)
But this 10% should be a starting point from which we then decide how generous we can be, rather than a legalistic figure to enforce. For very low incomes, 10% may be difficult to manage. But many in our church have been abundantly blessed, and could even afford to give a higher percentage.
A good approach is to aim to make your giving sacrificial in some way.
That is, we give beyond that point of comfort. Because God’s giving to us was so sacrificial, it makes sense that our giving should see us accepting a personal cost. Our tendency may be to give only if there is something “left over” after we have decided what we want or need. It would be more in line with the Bible’s teaching to first consider your giving, even though that may mean a sacrifice of some kind.
Notice how Jesus commends the poor widow (Mark 12:41-44). Her two copper coins represented a far greater sacrifice than what the rich had given. Jesus knew who had sacrificed more.
When we receive new income (a raise; a bonus; a liquidated investment) the Christian’s response is not simply: “How can this raise my standard of living?” but “How can this raise my standard of giving?”.
3: Give cheerfully & responsibly
We read in 2 Corinthians 9:7 that God loves a cheerful giver. According to Paul, the opportunity to give in support of the work of the Kingdom can be considered a grace from God. We can also give cheerfully knowing that generous, sacrificial giving is often God’s way of helping us battle materialism and our way of storing up (real!) treasure in heaven.
In some practical advice about a collection for the Jerusalem poor, Paul says: “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made” (1 Cor 16:2). This tells us that, as Christians, we need to plan ahead responsibly to give. This is an important matter and one which couples and households should discuss, pray through, plan for and act on.
1: PRAY: Ask God for a generous heart and wisdom on how best to support His church with the money He has entrusted to you.
2: THINK: Carefully review your own finances. Work out how much money you receive. You can do this by adding up your various sources of income (e.g. total salary/pension income, interest, dividends). Calculate your expected total annual income. Then decide on what proportion of this amount you would like to give. Lastly, break this amount down into a monthly or weekly figure.
3: ACT: Let’s be Christians who have prayerfully considered giving and then acted on our intentions. The “How to Give” section below will take you through the specifics of how to arrange your giving to St Peters.
How to Give
The most helpful way to give is in a regular committed way, such as a standing order. These can be set up via internet banking or at your local bank branch (see the church banking details below). Alternatively, you could make use of the collection bags in church.
It’s worth pointing out some of the real advantages involved with standing order giving:
- It saves the church money in making deposits and it saves you money in making extra cash withdrawals.
- It’s safer than carrying cash around.
- It often helps people to prayerfully consider what they would like to give and then act on that in private.
If you wish to make a one-off donation to the work of St Peters, this can be done by EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer) via internet banking, using the banking details below. You could also write a cheque (payable to “St Peters Church”) and place it in the collection bags or send it to the Church Office, for the attention of our Treasurer.
Over the years, a number of people have generously remembered the work of St Peters through legacies in their wills. If you would like information on how this may be done, please contact the Church Office or the Church Treasurer (Richard Ferguson).
If you have any questions about any of the above please don’t hesitate to contact the church office: firstname.lastname@example.org or 021-7856682
St Peters Church Banking Details
Standard Bank (Fish Hoek)
Account name: St Peters Church Fish Hoek
Account No: 270372806
Branch Code: 036009