As the church looks ahead and makes plans for ministry and stewardship for 2019, I would like to share with you part of a presentation I developed for Session on the topic of Sacrificial Giving. The following points describe for me the essence of giving my income sacrificially to God.
- Feeling the money that is given. What does it mean to feel money? Feeling the money given to God means that it is substantial enough that you notice it and it affects you. Our giving to the church is automatically debited from our account once a month. When that debit happens, and I check my bank account that day or the next, that amount of money and where it goes is substantial and profound enough that I certainly feel it.
- Developing a faithful attitude to money. You've probably heard the mis-quote of 1 Timothy 6:10 a time or two. I've heard it said that "money is the root of all evil." In actuality, the verse is that "the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil." Christians that practice sacrificial giving view money differently. It is, as all things, a gift from God. It is not the most important thing in life, and it does not dictate our identity.
- Trusting who/where the money is given to. When I give sacrificially I trust where the money I give goes. Presbyterian churches by design operate quite transparently. The congregation votes on the Pastor's pay (no secrets there), and the budget is presented to the congregation. Still though, when I give I have to give practicing trust of leadership and trust of God that my money will be used in a faithful way.
- Accepting the blessing of having enough. I believe one of Jesus' toughest teachings is to "consider the lilies" (Luke 12:27). It takes a great amount of faith to give sacrificially and trust that God will provide for my basic necessities. In my own giving life, I've found the best way to live into this teaching is to practice giving. With discipline and the proper priorities, I find daily that God gives me all I need.
- Thanking God for all that has been given. Sacrificial giving is a response of gratitude for life, creation, a good job, shelter, a surplus of food, people who care about and support me. One of the best ways I know to say 'thank you!' to God is to give back what God has given me.
Christian life is an offering of one's self to God. As those who have been claimed and set free by his grace, we respond with gratitude, offering him our lives, our spiritual gifts, and our material goods. The gifts we offer express our stewardship of creation, demonstrate our care for one another, support the ministries of the church, and provide for the needs of the poor.