In an earlier blog I wrote that the first principle of biblical giving is that we are to give thoughtfully, freely, and joyfully based on 2Corinthians 9:7. Perhaps it would be good to consider not only the principles of giving, but the motive for giving. There are at least two biblical reasons for giving. In 1 Corinthians 16:1 the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians believers, “Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do.” That offering was destined to go to Jerusalem to help the Christians there that were experiencing drought and persecution. The first reason for giving is to help others.
It is interesting that in our current church budgets facilities and staff tend to be the bulk of our budgets. That is not necessarily wrong. It takes buildings for people to meet, and buildings cost money. Additionally, it takes staff to carry on ministry. The larger the church, the more staff is needed. Even the smallest congregations often have a paid pastor even if he is part time. Neither of these is wrong and we have a responsibility to care for and provide for our pastors, ministers, and missionaries. That being said, it seems that often the budget for helping people in need is the smallest item on our budge if it shows up at all.
Paul’s instruction to the Corinthians to take up a weekly offering was specifically for helping believers in Jerusalem that were struggling financially. I know of some churches that take up a special monthly offering to help those in need. That is commendable. Giving to ministries that help the needy is also a way to give. That is not unlike what Paul was instructing the Corinthians to do. My point is simply that as believers in Jesus Christ, we ought to have compassion for those in need. Does our budget reflect that and is our giving aimed at that?
A second, and perhaps more primary motive for giving is the acknowledgment of God as owner of all that we have. We are simply stewards of our money and possessions. They are gifted to us by God to care for and use to his glory. R.C. Sproul wrote, “What we own, we own as stewards who have been given gifts from God Himself.” Psalms 24:1-2 teaches us that, “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.” All that exists belongs to God by virtue of creation. Sproul observed that God did not give ownership of the world to people, he gave them the responsibility to oversee it and care for it under God’s authority. Tithes and offerings acknowledge God’s ownership.
We talk about my car, my house, my boat, my toys, my tools, my jewelry, my keepsakes. The truth is, none of them are ours. They are all on loan from God, who expects us to use them in a way that will honor him. Not only does everything belong to God, be we are to use everything for his glory. Earlier in 1 Corinthians, Paul instructed the Corinthians, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31). As we oversee creation, we are to work and play, eat and drink, give and serve to the glory of God. Giving acknowledges God’s ownership over all that we have and it honors him.
Why do we give? Despite that accusations of some that we are encouraged to give simply because the church is only interested in money, the truth is, we give because what we have is not ours. We give because it acknowledges that God is the owner of all that we have and he has the right to use it as he wills. We give because in giving, we are able to help those in need, and helping those in need honors the owner of all that we have. Giving is not just about obeying a command, it is about honoring God and helping others. Giving is an aspect of love and God calls us to love sacrificially.