By Chuck Lawless | Article from blog.echurchgiving.com 11 AUGUST 2015
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I grew up in a home that struggled with money. My parents often spent more than we had, so debt had a stranglehold on all we did. My response as an adult has been to be very careful with the dollars. What I’ve learned about giving to God’s work, though, has stretched me to be faithful. Here are some observations and insights about giving I’ve learned in my 40+ years as a believer:
#1: You cannot out-give God. I know it’s a cliché, but it’s also true. Even if my wife and I gave every dime we have to God, our gifts can never equal the gift God gave to us: His Son. In light of the cross on which Jesus died, anything we give is minimal.
#2: The tithe is just a minimum. Scholarly debates notwithstanding, I believe the New Testament assumes that believers will begin their giving with a tithe (10%). So, with my first ministry paycheck of $45 in 1981 (my church was really poor), I decided to give $5 (a $4.50 tithe plus a 50¢ offering). More than three decades later and with paychecks that have grown much greater, I have never waivered from that pattern of a tithe plus an offering.
#3: God always keeps His Word. He made His commitment clear: “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19), and He always does what He says He’ll do. My wife and I can testify that God has never let us down.
#4: Giving to God’s work affects eternity. We write monthly checks to pay for our home, our utilities, our subscriptions, our insurance, etc. All of that matters, but none of it compares to giving to God. The dollars that we give help us reach our neighbors and the nations for Jesus. Nothing is more important than that Great Commission task.
#5: Most churches tell members to give, but they don’t teach them how to give. Giving is a discipline we need to learn, but few churches offer guidance and support through the process. When they tell others to give but don’t teach them why and how to do it, frustration is often the result. Church members are frustrated because they don’t understand what to do, and leaders, too, are frustrated because members aren’t giving in the way they should.
#6: Faith and trust mean giving more. Whenever my wife and I have struggled financially, we’ve committed to giving more to God rather than less. That’s a counterintuitive move, but faith is often that way. Somehow, this equation works: increase your giving, and God does even more with the fewer dollars remaining.
#7: Smart budgeting promotes sacrificial giving. Early on, I realized that sacrificial giving was most difficult when I spent unwisely in other areas of my life. If you waste money on things that don’t matter, you’ll have fewer dollars to give to God’s work. On the other hand, good stewardship will often free up money to give.
#8: It’s okay to grow incrementally in giving. Sometimes, to some people, moving to a tithe seems impossible. In those cases, it works to commit to incremental growth in giving (e.g., +1% each year) while getting the rest of your finances in order. Consistent, committed growth is the goal.
#9: We sometimes grow stagnant in our giving. My wife and I gave a certain percentage of our income to God’s work for a number of years. We grew comfortable with that amount, but not because we evaluated it every year; we grew comfortable only because we did not evaluate it. When we finally reviewed our giving patterns, we realized that we needed to be willing to sacrifice a bit more in our giving.
#10: It’s impossible to support all worthy causes. We live in a big world; there are many ministries that need support. It’s difficult to accept that you can say “yes” to only some needs and must say “no” to others. You will not run out of opportunities to give if you are willing to give, but you will sometimes need to say “No.”
#11: Giving can continue after our death. I’m often surprised by the number of believers who have made no preparation for death (e.g., creating a will, etc.). Not only is planning for the inevitable best for our families, but making the necessary preparations also provides opportunity to support God’s work via our estate.
#12: It’s just fun to give. Years ago, giving was a stretch, a challenge. We always did it, but writing the tithe and offering check was sometimes a chore. We were glad to be obedient, but we often experienced some anxiety as we gave. Not so now – we’ve seen God be so faithful to us that we almost welcome challenges to give more.