Several months ago, I started a series called, “7 Simple Steps to True Financial Freedom.”
In the coming weeks, we’ll take a look at each step, in detail, so you can learn how to make 2016 your best money year yet!
Just as a reminder, below is a brief outline of the steps I mentioned in that original blog post.
We’ll call these steps, The Stewardship Plan™…
1. Start with giving.
2. Take care of the basics.
3. Establish an emergency fund.
4. Wipe out high-interest debt.
5. Add a rainy day fund.
6. Reach your long-term goals.
7. Don’t stop giving!
In this post, we’ll talk more about step 1.
We’ll answer some common questions about Christian giving, such as why to give, how much to give, and where to give. We’ll also cover why this step is important, even if you’re not a Christian.
So, what are we waiting for? Let’s get started!
1. Why should I give?
The reason giving is step 1 in The Stewardship Plan™ is because if we don’t start with giving, we’ll find it harder and harder to “fit” giving into our financial plan over the long-term.
Although a complete answer to the question of “Why should I give?” could fill an entire book, for now we’ll highlight what I think are the most important reasons for why Christians should give…
To increase our joy and break the power of money in our lives.
Throughout the New Testament we are exhorted to “…lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20).
What is this treasure Jesus speaks of?
I believe, as pastor and theologian John Piper does, that the primary treasure Jesus is speaking of is an ever increasing joy of being in the presence of God himself!
True Christian giving flows out of a heart that’s delighted in God and all that He is for you in Jesus Christ.
This kind of giving breaks the power money has in our lives and serves to increase our everlasting joy!
2. How much should I give?
Is it enough just to give at all? Does the amount really matter?
What about “tithing” 10%? Is that enough? Should you give more?
At some point in the future, I’ll cover my views on whether tithing, at least the way it’s taught in many churches, is scriptural or not and I’ll provide support and evidence for that position in detail.
In this post, however, let’s just say that the actual percentage or amount of your giving isn’t nearly as important as the condition of your heart when giving.
Rather than trying to determine how much we “have” to give (i.e. out of a sense of duty), we should strive to mimic the attitude of the early Macedonian church in 2 Corinthians 8:2 who gave out of “…their abundance of joy…” (i.e. out of delight).
To further clarify, here’s an illustration about the difference between giving something out of “duty” vs. giving out of “delight” from author and theologian, John Piper…
Consider the analogy of a wedding anniversary…suppose on this day I bring home a dozen long-stemmed roses for Noël, my wife. When she meets me at the door, I hold out the roses, and she says, “O Johnny, they’re beautiful; thank you” and gives me a big hug.
Then suppose I hold up my hand and say matter-of-factly, “Don’t mention it; it’s my duty.”
What happens? Is not the exercise of duty a noble thing? Do not we honor those we dutifully serve?
Not much. Not if there’s no heart in it.
Dutiful roses are a contradiction in terms. If I am not moved by a spontaneous affection for her as a person, the roses do not honor her. In fact, they belittle her.
Do you see the difference???
If our giving is done out of a sense of duty, rather than delight, then the amount doesn’t matter.
God doesn’t need “your” money (it’s already His! e.g. Psalm 24:1).
He wants your heart!
3. Where should I give?
After you’ve decided on the amount, the next question is, “Where should I give?”
If you’re a professing Christian, then I believe your local church is where a significant portion of your regular giving should go.
Because Christ died for His church…or his “bride” as the New Testament calls it. He loved her and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25).
Your local church body is just a small part of the worldwide body of believers confessing Jesus as Lord and Savior, treasuring Him above all else, from every tribe, tongue, and nation under heaven.
But because your local church is where you’re fed, led, and cared for on a regular basis, I think it only makes sense that a significant portion of your giving should go there.
Don’t have a local church where you feel comfortable giving to?
Then find one!
Check out this website for a list of good churches in your area.
With that said, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with also setting aside a portion of your regular giving to support Gospel-centered, God-glorifying, Christ-exalting para-church organizations and ministries at home and abroad.
If you’re not sure where to start, here’s a blog post with a list of 7 Christian Ministries Worthy of Your Support to give you a few ideas.
Whatever para-church ministry/ministries you decide to support outside of your local church, the key is that a good ministry won’t just have “Jesus” attached to their marketing in some way.
Rather, a ministry worthy of your support should come alongside and support the local church through their ministry, instead of replacing it.
4. But what if I’m not a Christian?
There are likely some of you reading this who are thinking…
“But Tyler, I’m not a Christian. Why should I worry about giving?”
I’m glad you asked!
You see, even if you’re not a Christian, you probably understand the simple truth that when you die, everything you “own” will be left behind.
Your money, cars, home, golf clubs, clothes, vacation homes, book collection…whatever worldly possessions you have…you can’t take any of it with you.
There are no U-Hauls behind hearses!
So, whether we like it or not, we ALL end up giving our money away…
It’s just a matter of who we give it to and when.
My advice to you is this…
“Do your givin’ while you’re livin’ so you’re knowin’ where it’s goin’!” -Ron Blue
Even if you’re not a Christian, there are plenty of Christian organizations that support causes you likely care deeply about, such as aiding the poor, fighting disease and world hunger, helping orphaned children find forever homes, and more…find an organization you can get excited about and give as you felt led!
That’s step 1 of The Stewardship Plan™ in a nutshell.
So, what’s next?
Step 2 – Take care of the basics.
During our next post in this series, we’ll take a detailed look at several important “basics” of a good financial plan that are fairly simple for most people to accomplish…and that most people desperately need!
Until next time, click here to email me with any questions or use the sign-up form below to have the next blog post delivered straight to your inbox.
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