The past two weeks, we have talked about God’s Kingdom being expressed and advanced through our generosity and the freedom that God has given us to give. There are some major themes that need to be understood when it comes to giving:
1. We give of our time, resources, energy, and our lives, because God is a giving God. John 3:16 says that "For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." Our lives are to reflect His life and His character. It has been said, you cannot outgive God. Whatever you give, He will give more because He will not share His glory or be in debt to any man. Luke 6:38 says, "Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
2. We are free to give because God is trustworthy. Matthew 25:14-30, the Parable of the Talents, tells the story of three men who were given resources by their Master. The Master went away and the first two men took what the Master had given them and doubled it. They said, "Master, you entrusted us with this amount and we have earned more." They were called FAITHFUL. Note, that they said to the Master, "you entrusted" us. To be entrusted with something denotes a trust relationship. The third servant said that he knew that his Master was a hard man and that he harvested where he has not sown seed. He was afraid of losing his money, so he buried it. How often, in our own fear of what will happen, we bury the blessings that God has given us. This man was called wicked and was thrown out where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. If we have a relationship with God and trust Him, we will have the confidence to give, knowing that He supplies us with all that we need (Phil. 4:19).
3. We are blessed to be a blessing (Gen. 12:2). God blesses us because He loves us and He blesses us so that we can be a blessing to others. He desires that we be a conduit of His grace, power, and supernatural provision – Matt. 10:8 – "Freely you have received, freely give." How many Christians receive incredible blessings from God, just to hoard it themselves and spend all that they have on their own pleasures! How many Chrisitians receive salvation, life, and provision, only to spend their life thinking of themselves and taking care of themselves! You are blessed to be a blessing! Take what you have and bless others!
4. We are to give to those in need. Isaiah 58 illustrates this well. We are to give to the poor, fight for justice for the oppressed, feed the hungry, and take care of those in distress. This is God’s heart and when we follow Him in this, He will take care of us. Our light will break forth like the dawn and our healing will quickly appear. We will be called Repairers of the Breach and Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. God takes care of the poor and so should we. They should always be a primary object of our giving.
5. We are to give to advance the Gospel. Philippians 4:15-19 is an example of Paul thanking the church at Philippi for their gifts in helping him in his life and ministry. As he shared the Gospel and they supported him, they formed a partnership to help advance the Kingdom of God into darkness. May we be faithful to always support those who are sharing Christ with a lost world.
6. We are to give to support the work of the church. Romans 12:5,10, & 13 says that we belong to one another, we are to devoted to one another in brotherly love, and that we are to share with those in need. Acts 2:45 shows the early church selling their possessions and goods and giving to anyone who was in need. If we all belong to a body, and if we all have a say in the ministry of that local body and in developing the budget as we do at our church, then we should all committ to support the work of that church financially, and with time, prayer, resources, and energy. Together we can do far more than if we stay isolated.
As a church we have decided to cut our budget by 25% from last year to this year. We have cut back to bare bones and have eliminated every bit of fluff. We are asking each person to pray about giving sacrificially to the church so that we can have an overage above and beyond our needs for the following reasons:
1. To pay off our mortgage. We have had a building debt for 17 years and it is about time we bought our old trailers outright! I’m not much into spending a bunch of money on buildings, but it would be great to actually pay for the ones we have. So, we are committed to 70% of our overage to go towards paying off the debt.
2. For benevolence. We want to pursue the needy, not just wait for them to come to us. We are going to take 15% of our overage and find people to bless and give to.
3. For our church ministries. We want to take 15% of the overage and actually FUND our ministries that year after year have little money because we rarely have had cash flow. What can we do in outreach or children’s ministry that would push us outside of our comfort zones if we could fund it a bit?
The really cool thing about this is, that at the end of March, we are going to apportion all of this money. And, we have already had about $55,000 given to world missions in January and February alone! So far this year, we have given the same amount to missions as we have to our church ministries. I am praying that at the end of this quarter, we are able to make a HUGE dent in our mortgage and minister to and help a lot of people. We continue with our work on the Gulf Coast and our desire is to GO TO our community with the saving grace of Jesus Christ instead of expecting them to come to us. May God bless us as we continue to give out of our weaknesses to share the generosity of Christ with a needy world.