What do the Scriptures say about giving to God and the Church?

The command to give is the most frequent mandate in both the Old and New Testaments.

  • Moses to the Israelites, “Take from among you a contribution to the Lord.  Whoever is of a generous heart, let him bring the Lord’s contribution.” (Exodus 35:5)
  • In Proverbs we read, “Honor the Lord with your substance and with the first fruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will be bursting with wine.”  (Proverbs 3:9-10)

In the New Testament, the importance of giving is at the center of Jesus’ life and teaching.  Again and again, Jesus implores his followers that Kingdom Life is built on unselfishness and generosity.

Jesus knew well that money is the altar we bow to most; that the love of wealth could easily come between us and God.

  • In Mark 12:41-44, Jesus exhorts us to be like the poor widow who “out of her poverty has put everything she had, all she had to live on,” even though her gift was much less than those of the rich.
  • Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians only builds on Jesus’ imperative to give.  Paul commends the Macedonians to the Corinthians, saying that, “they voluntarily gave according to their means and even beyond their means, begging earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints.” (2 Corinthians 8:1-12).

What is Stewardship?

In the fall season, like most Episcopal Churches, we at St. Barnabas launch a Stewardship Campaign. This campaign has a practical purpose: to assess the resources the church will have to do its work.  It also has a spiritual purpose: to focus each of us on what Christian stewardship means to us.

At the heart of Christian stewardship is the understanding that God, who we know in Christ, is the Lord of all creation; and that all we have is God’s. We are then all to be stewards of what we have been given and to manage it for God’s glory.

Stewardship is a Personal Commitment to God.

Stewardship is most often discussed along budget lines, but it is much more personal than that.  When we consider that God made the heavens and the earth, we can assume God doesn’t need our money.  What God wants is us.

The Earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it.” (Psalms 24: 1)

The central issue then is nothing less than our need to give.  For in giving, we participate in our own transformation by letting go of that which pulls us away from God; our attachment to material wealth and the illusion that security and fulfillment are found in money and “stuff.”

In Christian stewardship our motivation for giving matters. Giving out of a sense of guilt or external pressure isn’t generosity. Guilt doesn’t glorify God. All of our giving is to be from a generous heart, a heart moved by the Holy Spirit.

“Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly, or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7.)

What Do the Scriptures Say about Giving to God and the Church?

  • “Remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the power to get wealth.” (Deut. 8:18)

In the New Testament, the importance of giving is at the center of Jesus’ life and teaching. Again and again, Jesus implores his followers that Kingdom Life is built on unselfishness and generosity.  Jesus knew well that money is the altar we bow to most; that the love of wealth could easily come between us and God.

  • In Mark 12:41-44, Jesus exhorts us to be like the poor widow who “out of her poverty has put everything she had, all she had to live on” even though her gift was much less than those of the rich.
  • Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, only builds on Jesus’ imperative to give. In his letter, Paul commends the Macedonians to the Corinthians, saying that “they voluntarily gave according to their means and even beyond their means, begging earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints.” (2 Cor. 8:1-12).
  • Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.(Luke 6:38)

 

The Blessings of Giving

The Bible has more to say about giving than it does heaven, hell, or prayer – even faith.  Why is giving a recurrent theme in the Bible?  God wants us to enjoy the blessings that come to those who give with generous hearts.

  • Giving draws us closer to God as we commit our lives to Him.
  • Giving is the key to an abundant life.
  • Giving draws us closer to our church family as we become invested in its mission.
  • Giving makes us happy. Those who give with generous hearts know great joy!

As Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)