by: Embrace Church
Each week, as a local group of people who are trying to fulfill the Great Commission in the spirit of the Greatest Commandment, we meet in order to encourage each other, challenge each other, and push each other to be on mission together. Part of that process involves the study of scripture and application to our lives. This includes teaching, asking difficult questions, and giving space for everyone’s answers. We believe that circles are better than rows. But not everything that is prepared for this time of teaching and discussion makes it to Sunday evening. Here are some additional thoughts from Sunday’s time together. We hope and pray you find these additional thoughts compelling, challenging, and encouraging to your faith.
Money is no joke. If you’ve been around long, then you know that the Church and money have a long-storied history. From grand cathedrals to ornate statues, why the Church asks for money, why the Bible asks us to give, and what happens to that money has been the basis of much discussion. In our current series, Vintage Faith, we have been asking the question of why behind some of the most commonplace traditions practiced amongst Christians. Giving money was bound to be one of those discussions.
There are plenty of ways to express what we believe. What we say, how we treat people who work in customer service, and what we do with our free time are all great examples. However, there is perhaps a no better indicator of what we believe than what we do with our money and our time. How we choose to spend either of these resources tells the world about who we are, what we believe, and what we think is important. We are willing to take on debt, massive amounts in some cases, for things like education, houses, or cars. This proves that those things are important to some of us.
The Bible and Money
Generosity is an interesting concept that we may be quick to avoid. How I’m generous is my business and no one else’s business. I’ve heard that I’ve said that. And it is true. What you do with your money is up to you. That is the beauty of how God calls us. It is our choice at the end of the day. I think one reason we get so confused about generosity as it applies to the Church is that we misunderstand what the Bible says about being generous. Biblical generosity is only one piece of the picture. And we can’t talk about biblical generosity without talking about biblical fiscal responsibility.
Giving isn’t the only thing we should be doing with the resources we have. The Bible is clear to save diligently (Proverbs 6:6-11; Proverbs 13:22; Proverbs 21:5; Proverbs 21:20), pay our debts (Romans 13:7-8; Psalm 37:21; Ecclesiastes 5:5), avoid debt (Proverbs 22:7), and provide for our families (1 Timothy 5:8). Generosity is only one part of the entire plan that God has for the money that He has given you. It may be the hardest because it benefits us the least. God has never asked for only one part of your life. He has called for the entire thing, and it is beautiful.
The World vs. God
I shared this image during our missional community. It is a version of Crown Financial’s explanation of how the world directs money compared to how God directs money.
It goes like this. The world tells us to get paid (by borrowing or earning), enjoy our money (or borrow to enjoy money), start repaying, hopefully save, maybe give, and then realize there should be a plan. When we write it out, of course, it is crazy. Of course, the world is turned upside down! But God’s way isn’t just different. It starts out from a completely different place. God’s plan for money starts with acknowledging that none of it ours anyways. Each dollar starts with “God, this is yours. What would you have me do with it?” When we begin with this dedication of everything we make, we are already in a better place to wisely steward money. Then we plan what to do with that money. We give to care of others. This way, we never have to say, “It is someone else’s responsibility.” Instead, we get to say, “I did my part.” Then we save, repay, and enjoy what is left. It doesn’t sound nearly as fun. But it is wise.
Financial Freedom, God’s way
It is no coincidence that this is how God lays out financial stewardship. This plan with the money that God has entrusted us with keeps us from the love of money. It keeps us from being slaves to lenders. It allows us to care for the hungry, thirsty, lonely, sick, and naked. This path is freedom from the chains of financial bondage. Following God’s plan to dedicate, plan, give, and save allows for room in situations where things go awry. Most importantly, this allows us to be able to say “YES!” to God in all things. It allows us to go boldly for God to the thing God is calling us to do.
So, yes, we give to the Church. But not in a way that breaks you. In a way that frees you. We give to the Church so, as a collective, a unified body of believers, we can go into the world and be the Gospel of Jesus
for the people who need it. We give to
the Church not just out of simple obedience, but because this generosity is the
thing that keeps us from the love of money.
If you are in the middle of this battle, undoing years of financial mistakes, don't lose hope! God is with you! It will take time, and it will be frustrating, and you will be tempted to give up. But, let's not become tired in doing the right thing! Follow the link to find out why.
Peace & Hope,