Scriptural Precepts of being a cheerful giver

 

“Isn’t the cheerfulness we feel supposed to come from the opportunity to return this small, required percentage of our blessing to Him rather than from a satisfaction with giving God some fraction of the minimum that he asked us to give?” And the answer everyone to this is…? YEA! (Quotes from a missionary in Asia with whom we work.)

  • Being a cheerful giver is about responding to God, not to our conveniences.
  • Our giving is a pale comparison to the tremendous gift of grace we have been given (John 3:16)!
  • We will end up robbing God when we refuse to give, or give too little. The most important investment we could ever make is in the Kingdom of God (Mal. 3: 8)!
  • Remember, it is not just our money; it is our time, treasure, and talent. So, we give our time, gifts, and abilities of commitment and service to our Lord, and to His Church.
  • We must be aware that our fallen human depravity will get in the way and rationalize the behaviors that we want to do over the call of the Lord!

The precepts listed from inductive research clearly contradict the common postmodern thinking in today’s Church.

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Applications form the United Reformed Church practice

It is about being encouraged in Him, when we have a passion for God, we will have a willingness to support His Church and Ministries. The Mission of the church is simply what the church does (our ought to do) as a church. The “Growing Up” report was adopted as a basis for the URC’s (United Reformed Church) mission strategy at the 1999 General Assembly. One of the tools identified for turning ideas into reality was The Five Marks of Mission. These can be summarized as: 

Tell Proclaim the good news of the Kingdom- lay preaching, formation of worship groups and teams, more congregational involvement in worship, worship style changes, alpha courses

Teach Teach, baptize, nurture new believers– Junior Church work, all age worship groups, Elders Training Courses, Bible Study groups, House Groups, Seminars, Retreats and Away Days.

Tend Respond to human need in loving service- Development of Pastoral Teams, Community Work, Day Centers, and Counseling.

Treasure Sustain and renew the life of the earth– Church Energy Management, Recycling events, supporting charity and other environmental causes, ethical investment.

Transform to transform unjust structures in society– Commitment for Life, Christian Aid and other agency support, community projects and social justice campaigns, support FairTrade goods. 

Remember – 

It is God’s Mission – not ours    

Tell, Teach: Worship and proclamation

Tend, Transform Outreach and Service ‘Mission’

Tend, Treasure Fellowship and Pastoral Care  

Learning to be Generous

This topic of stewardship and how much or how should I give is closely tied together with the Character of Generosity. We must ask ourselves, if the Character of Generosity working in you? Here is how you can find out. Take a careful look at this character and Fruit of Generosity from God’s most precious Word by examining the passages below. Now ask yourself:

  1. How do I exhibit Generosity in my daily life?
  2. What can I do to develop a mindset to know that all I have in life belongs to God, and, since He supplies all I have and need, I can model His grace through being Generous?
  3. What blocks me from being Generous?
  4. How can I make Generosity function better, stronger, and faster, even in times of uncertainly and stress? 
  • ·         Here are positive examples from Scripture (Exodus 36:2-7; Luke 7:44-8:3; 10:33-37; 21:1-4; 2 Corinthians 8:1-7)
  • ·         Here are negative examples from Scripture (Haggai 1:2-9; Malachi 3:8-12; Matthew 25:31-46; 26:6-13) 

Generosity (Deuteronomy 16:17; Proverbs 11:24-25; 13:7; Matthew 10:8; 2 Corinthians 9: 6-15) as a Scriptural definition, refers to give without expectations in return. This attitude and character allows us to give to others because God has given abundantly to us. It is the wise use of stewardship and the attitude that all possessions belong to God. We are merely the caretakers for His purpose. It will see the Lord as the Source of true blessing, not our selfish desires. 

The opposites are Greed, Stinginess, Selfishness and Miserliness. These rotten fruits rot because we hoard them and do not use them properly as Christ called us to do. This blocks the flow of God’s blessings and ‘living water’ from flowing in us. We will become stagnant and useless to the Kingdom or the people around us. Pride and arrogance will be the driving force, the quintessential things that God hates the most (Proverbs 6:16-18)!  

Generosity is the realization we have His living water (John 4; 7:38) flowing in us. To keep it fresh, it must flow out of us, too! The Dead Sea in Israel is dead. There is no life is in it because it has no outlet. It has a river flowing into it, but the water remains there, and becomes stagnated with harsh salts and minerals to the point that nothing can live or grow there. When we are stingy, we become like the Dead Sea–stagnant and lifeless. The living water within us will quickly become stagnant, like a mud puddle with mosquito larvae growing in it, useless, and even dangerous.

Generosity is an example of our trust and reliance on God. Because He has given so much to us, way beyond what we can comprehend, we can therefore be charitable with others. This is an act of worship–to model Christ, and see the big picture that goods and material things are not important, but relationships are. This goes to giving back to God, providing to those who have less, and making sure your church is modeling this character. A selfish church that does not give, and only sees themselves as a charity, will become a Dead Sea rather quickly. How sad and pathetic that would be–an unconcerned, uncaring, and self-absorbed quandary to the neighborhood, and a disgrace to the Kingdom!

Think through the steps you need to take to put Generosity into action in a specific instance. If you are not a giving or hospitable person, seek to discover why. You are blocking God’s work in you. How can you release your selfish attitudes, and embrace the flowing in and out of His work in you? The lack of Generosity will reflect a lack of faith and obedience! If you think there are no rivers coming into you, then seek what is blocking them. Is it sin, attitude, fear….?  God blesses those who steadfastly embrace His call, and who stay true to Christ.

Let yourself be a rich and growing reservoir, overflowing like a fountain of living water that refreshes and encourages all those around you (Eph. 5:18). This will be your sweetness and virtue to others, which will point them to God and be a welcome mat to the Christian life.

  • ·         Our relationship with Christ as Lord and not just savior is only true stewardship motivator! 
  • ·         Guilt, consumerism, enticing appeals, fancy campaigns, loyalty to the denomination, obligation or manipulation does not work! We as Christians are only effectively motivated by obedience, and never by manipulation. The focus needs to be how we can be more obedient to God and as leaders be motivators for Christian stewardship. We are blessed, not for our own benefit, but we are blessed in order to be a blessing to others (Gen 12: 1-3).
  • ·         Thus, real Christian stewardship is a more of lifestyle from our willingness to grow in Christ. This is the quintessential motivation, our personal spiritual maturity, one’s growing relationship with God and a passion for Him.

Is tithing for today? PII

 

View your promise to give to God that which is referred to as your tithe, like an income tax. Although it is not mandatory, it is a reflection of your character and response to His grace. As the government so nicely swipes away your hardearned money from the top of your paycheck, consider joyfully setting also the top 10% of your net, or better yet, the gross income, for the Lord’s service– before the bills, expenses, and entertainment.  Do not include the tithe in your budget. Make your budget on the net assets you have after the tithe and taxes. Then, you will have a more realistic budget and keep yourself from getting into debt.  That way, it is done and out of the way. Then, carefully decide to whom it should go. The primary responsibility is first to your local church, and second to ministries that are doing the Lord’s work.  Remember, the people who set aside the first fruits of their resources to God are dedicating themselves to God, and not themselves to themselves. 

The tithe was fair and is still fair today. Every one is on the same playing- paying field. So the rich paid more and the poor paid lees.

If our taxes worked that way we would have a balanced budget and be a nation out of depth and not even have to pay income tax, if we went to a 10% national tax on all goods and serves sold! All you have to do is divide 10% from the gross national product and compare it to what the IRS gets annually and what the national depth is.

(Reference and History from “History of the Christian Church” by Schaff; “A History of Christianity Vol. I &II” by Latourette, “The IVP Bible Background Commentary,” by Keener, and “The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church”)!

Is tithing for today?

Tithing is a very misunderstood as is Stewardship. Postmodern thinking in Evangelical Christianity is to, think we “give.” But in actuality, we “bring!” it is about being obedient to what God has told us clearly, He bless us and we in turn are to bless others. It is all His to begin with, so we must adjust our thinking and lifestyle to correspond to a deeper spiritual formation in our thinking and behaviors. 

The answer is no–as a forced obligation. The answer is also yes–if it is a response from the heart.

We are not obligated to give any amount. But, when we have the right mindset, based on the Word of God and a heart that flows with gratitude for what He has done, yes, we will want to give all that we are able to. I believe that in the debates, occurring over the centuries since the early church, and now to the classrooms in seminary, and to the message boards I pursued, money and religion have always gone together.

Money and religion have always fought each other in people’s pride and inclinations.

Just as Jesus’ anger with the money changers in the temple and Luther’s outrage with the selling indulgences in the pre-Reformation period, to the TV preachers we have today saying, “if you give to me, God will give to you ten times as much,” it all comes down to motivation, greed, and the idol of money. We will bow to money or we will bow to God. The question is what do you truly worship? Where is your motivation? Where is your heart?

And, so the controversy continues, as the presumptions and feelings of men take over sound reasoning and dialog. I call you to search the Scriptures and see for yourself what God requires of you. As for my family and me, we will give all we can with our time, talents, and treasures for His glory. What about my opinion of ten percent? I agree with the Puritans and the early church. Give what you can, but not as an obligation; it all belongs to Him for His glory! Ten percent is a good place to start! Good stewardship is where we start! Sometimes you may not be able to give much. When I was in school I could not give most of the time, so I augmented more volunteer time. Today I am a missionary and struggle day to day. God has provided for my family, but not in any kind of abundance or what we call in the US, “discretionary income.” So, I volunteer in areas in my church outside of my pastoral responsibilities and give what I can of the treasures the Lord has given me. Even in my poverty, after doing my taxes, I realized I did give just over ten percent, and I do not know how I did! He provided