Our Philosophy on Giving
A key area of our lives is financial giving. We believe that everything we have now or will have in the future belongs to God. Therefore, we approach giving as an issue in which God is in charge. Giving is about more that just finances. It is also about who you are and who you are becoming as a follower of Christ. There are lots of emotions surrounding this topic. Some of us may feel like our personal needs are more urgent that those of the body of Christ. Some of us may be guilt ridden, while others feel pride about how much they are giving.
The key question is this: How can we view giving as a grateful response to God’s ownership of all we have? Let’s begin by looking at what our culture says about giving.
Our culture uses three myths to pull the giver away from the heart and mind of God.
- Give…if it benefits you.
Our culture tends to promote giving in the context of its benefits to the individual: “Give us a tax benefit.” “Give if it makes you feels good.” “Give if it results in popularity, position or power.”
- Give…if there is anything leftover.
Our culture promotes giving as something you do if you have something leftover. For the vast majority of people, giving comes last. During the 1980s and 1990s – the most prosperous period in U.S. history – giving increased in absolute dollars, but decreased as a percentage of income.
- Give…out of duty.
Our culture tells us that we have a duty to give something. But, for the most part, giving out of duty is only a token gesture rather than the true, generous giving from the heart that God desires.
God’s Heart and Mind
The Bible characterizes the God-honoring giver as “generous”. The generous giver is one who gives with an obedient will, a joyful attitude, and a compassionate heart.
- God made us as givers. We are to be channels, not reservoirs. A body of water without an outlet becomes stagnant. A life without an outlet for its resources becomes stagnant. Giving is the channel for God’s heart to flow through us; a heart of love, generosity and compassion. When we give, we become more of who God wants us to be. Created in his image, we are only complete and fully satisfied when we share a portion of what we have with others. Simply put, giving changes our lives.
- Giving is a response to God’s goodness. “Whatever is good and perfect comes to us from God above” (James 1:17). Our giving is simply a way to say, “Thank you, I am grateful”. God wants us to focus on him as our source for security. In Matthew 6, Jesus issues this warning: “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths, and get rusty, and where thieves can break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven.” In other words, don’t base your security on riches that just one economic downturn could quickly destroy. Instead, base your security on things that will last forever. In the same passage, Jesus goes on to say, “Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the kingdom of God your primary concern” (Matthew 6:32-33). Clearly, we are to trust God for our ultimate provision.
- God wants to use us to help achieve economic justice in the world. Throughout scripture, material blessing has been linked to obedience, particularly in reference to justice and compassion for the poor. If God has blessed us beyond our needs, chances are it’s not for the purpose of raising our standard of living but for the purpose of raising our standard of giving. We are called to love. We can give without loving, but we cannot love without giving. This is why on the second Sunday of every month, we receive a second offering for mercy and missions.
- The relationship between giving and blessing goes all the way back to God’s original covenant with Abraham. In Genesis 12:2-3, God tells Abraham that he is being blessed in part so that he can be a blessing to others. “It is more blessed to give than to receive” and we do “reap what we sow”. We miss the joy and blessing in our lives when we hold onto what we have with clenched fists rather than sharing freely with others.
- Giving breaks the hold money can have on us. Money is a very powerful thing. It wants to have our allegiance, capture our hearts and control us. But the act of giving it away rather than using it for other purposes breaks the hold money might otherwise have over us. This is a very crucial point and perhaps the key reason for the Bible’s strong emphasis on giving. There is freedom in giving.
What About The Tithe?
Although generous giving is ultimately a matter of the heart, the biblical benchmark for giving is the tithe. Generally, the tithe is defined as 10 percent but at VCH, we try not to stress percentages. Some may say that their financial circumstances prevent them from giving 10 percent. Others may already be giving 10 percent and feel everyone should do the same. Following are some practical tips when thinking about tithing.
- If you are a Christ follower, it should be your desire to reach the benchmark of a tithe. If you are not there, develop a plan to reach it. Begin by giving something, regardless of your circumstances. You will soon find that as giving to God’s work becomes a priority for you, God will provide ways to do it.
- For those of you who are already tithing, we affirm your commitment. But while the tithe is a wonderful goal, it should just be the beginning of your giving journey. For example, a family of four earning $25,000 a year and giving $2500 to God’s work in the world may be approaching sacrificial giving. On the other hand, a family of four earning $250,000 and giving $25,000 may not be giving with a generous heart. “Seasons of life” issues are also a consideration. For example, a couple whose children are raised, house is paid for, has a pension and basic possessions, probably giving 10 percent is not giving with a generous heart.
- Generous giving is ultimately an issue of the heart. Instead of asking the question, “How much of my money should I give?” We should ask, “How much of God’s money do I need to live on?” We do need a portion of God’s money to provide for our needs, our family’s needs and to plan appropriately for the future. But all the rest should be available for God’s purposes.