|Are the words “giving,” “offering,” “collecting” or “tithing” a source of frustration, confusion or anger for you? Do you feel guilt or shame when you hear these words? First, you’re not alone. Knowing from several sources such as Barna Group, Pew Research and Lifeway, the large majority (80%) of Americans give only 2% of their income to charitable organizations. It’s alarming and difficult to understand but Christians on average only give 2.5% percent of their income to support the local church. Even more illuminating, VANCO reports that less than 1% of Christians tithe (give a tenth part). Second, under God’s direction and the leading of the Holy Spirit you can move from feeling guilty about not giving to becoming a cheerful giver.
At this point, let’s examine what the Bible says about giving so we all have the same point of reference.
|Malachi 3:8-10 “Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”
Acts 20:35 “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
2 Corinthians 9:6-7 “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Hebrews 13:16 “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”
|I’m not sure where you are and how you feel about it but stop a minute and analyze how God is working in your heart. Maybe you’re already giving but you’re feeling conviction from the Holy Spirit that you need to give more? Maybe you’re giving but just from what you have leftover instead of giving first and you’re under conviction from the Holy Spirit? Maybe you’re not giving or giving sporadically, and you’re convicted by the Holy Spirit that you need to give consistently, cheerfully, and generously?
With that established, are you ready to make some changes? Are you ready to Shift2Give? Here are seven helpful shifts that we all need to make so that we can cheerfully give to support the ministry of our local church:
1. Change your mind about ownership.
God is the ultimate owner of everything including your wealth. You are God’s steward of His resources.
Psalm 24:1-2 “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.”
Colossians 1:16 “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities —all things were created through him and for him.”
2. Understand your responsibility in providing for the financial needs of the local church.
The church and her ministry are initiated by God’s authority. Furthermore, the local church ministry is completely supported by tithes and offerings. In fact, it’s every Christian’s responsibility to support the financial needs of the local church.
The late nationally known pastor and radio personality J. Vernon McGee used to say, “If you eat in a restaurant, you should pay for your meal. And if you get fed by a ministry, you should give to that ministry.” And so those who are committed to a local church should help support the ministries of that church through generous grace giving.
3. Seek help from mature Christians.
Proverbs 15:22 “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.”
Find someone in the church that you trust and that has a good reputation for being a good steward. Dave Ramsey has helped countless people around the world. I highly recommend his resources on the topic of stewardship. https://www.ramseysolutions.com/budgeting/daves-advice-on-tithing-and-giving
4. Establish a budget.
Luke 14:28-30 “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’”
If you don’t have a budget and are not otherwise familiar with establishing one, the following is a link to get you started.
Looking at the big picture, work toward the following target that can be described as “living within your means.” The target is what is referred to as the 10-70-10-10 plan. 10% is given first to the Lord through the local church. 70% is to cover your living expenses. 10% is set back for saving and investing. As this builds up it will also cover emergency expenses. 10% is reserved for retirement savings and investing. You may feel like you’re a long way off but just keep working at it. Over time, once you can consistently hit this target, start living on less and giving and saving more.
5. Give to the Lord first.
Proverbs 3:9 “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce;”
Remember, the Lord owns everything so give what He requires from you first.
6. Rid yourself of debt.
Proverbs 22:7 “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.”
I recommend starting with paying off high interest credit cards first and then go from there. A good way to get started is using Dave Ramsey’s snowball approach. https://www.ramseysolutions.com/debt/how-the-debt-snowball-method-works
A major consideration is determining why you have the debt you do. It is very likely due to a few things such as: 1) you don’t have a budget 2) impulse buying 3) you’re not living within your means. If this is true for you, this is a major problem that you need to fix immediately. Believe me, I know because I’ve made these mistakes too.
7. Get started.
It is very possible that you are overwhelmed, and you feel defeated. There just doesn’t seem to be enough money to cover your monthly expenditures. Some like to say, “I run out of money before I run out of month.” I was there once. As a new Christian, I didn’t know how to make my finances all work together and give to the Lord first. So, I made it simple. I made a budget and made my tithe the first expenditure every time I got paid. It was the right decision and God has blessed our obedience and faithfulness.
|In conclusion, allow me to encourage you. Under God’s direction and the leading of the Holy Spirit you can move from feeling guilt and shame about your financial situation to becoming a cheerful giver. I know from personal experience. I made that journey and so can you. You’re not alone in your struggle as the research shows but you can Shift2Give starting today!
A Work in Progress,
- Making disciples who make disciples
- Introducing people to Christ across the street and around the world
- Loving the least among us with grace
- Leading together through teams
- Empowering the church through passionate prayer
- Worshipping as a lifestyle
- Embracing ministry with a Kingdom mindset