Christians don’t like to agree on much, but I think we can all agree there are few things as hotly debated in churches as:
And lucky me, I get to work as a woman in ministry and in the world of biblical and financial stewardship. Call me a lover of opposition.
It’s no easy task trying to get people to understand the beauty of giving and generosity. Giving is an expression of worship, an invitation to partner with God in everything. It requires you to “place your bet” on the work of God over the physical comfort of predictability. Many of us have felt the discomfort of calculating the amount of money God has deemed his tithe and tried to do the math on how that would impact our wallet. There are times it may hurt, but it makes us face a powerful question: do we really trust God?
Why is it so hard to give?
Believe it or not, I don’t think the answer is greed or hard-heartedness. Stewardship and generosity just have not been taught well enough in churches today. Pastors tend to bend in one of two ways: they either turn to the message of generosity when there is a financial need in the church, or, they avoid the topic altogether.
Jesus spent a significant portion of his ministry bringing to the attention of his followers the pull of wealth and riches on the human heart. Here are just a few of his powerful one-liners:
Money and wealth has the potential to bind up the human heart, just as the thorns in the parable of the sower choked out the plants as they grew.
When pastors ignore this area of discipleship, it allows people to become complacent in this area of their lives. It’s easier than ever to be pulled away to chase after the materialistic things of this world. We are baited every day by thousands of ads curated just for us. Like the adulteress Solomon warns us of in Proverbs, money and what it can buy is the ever-tempting threat that wants to drag us down into the pit of debt, depression, and shame. It’s ever lurking, and not only does it wreak havoc on our family and finances, but it devastates our relationship with God.
On the other end of the spectrum, pastors who only preach about giving and generosity when they are trying to raise funds through a capital campaign or other financial need become a deterrent to generosity. There is so much mistrust in the church and how it spends funds, that giving is completely misunderstood as an obligation to the church rather than a sacred act of worship. People are so guarded and hesitant to give because their focus is outward, on where the money is going, rather than why they should give.
There are a million reasons not to give, but what are the reasons to give?
Giving financially to the church is a thorny subject that pokes a lot of hearts. People are quick to come up with a reason why giving is irrelevant, unnecessary, or corrupt. Have you ever taken time to think of reasons to give? Perhaps the Holy Spirit keeps bringing it up to you because he wants to do a work in your heart. Undeniably, if you believe the Bible and the words of Jesus, the issues of money are an issue that is worked out in our hearts. Jesus didn’t ask the rich young ruler to change his behavior, because he had obeyed all of the commandments; he asked him to give everything because __his heart was wrapped up in his wealth. __Did Jesus ask him to give to the poor because it would help the poor, or was it because it would impact the man himself?
'Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” ‘ - Matthew 19:21* (emphasis added)*
Giving isn’t about the gift; it’s about the giver.
One day, we will all stand before the throne of God and give an account for our lives. God won’t ask you whether the gifts you gave to the church were well managed; he will ask you what you did with the things you were entrusted with. Our prayer for you is that you will learn to understand the depths of God’s heart for you as it relates to giving and generosity. God doesn’t want to take money from you, he wants your heart to be closer to his.
For Further Reading
Five Ways Budgeting Makes your Life Easier, Not Harder Seven Reasons to Offer Estate Planning at your Church Unconventional Ways Churches Can Inspire Generosity Biblical Financial Principles and 5 Practical Steps to Live by Them The Importance of Financial Habits
. . .
If you're a pastor or spiritual leader, consider joining our CSN community. We are a group of passionate Christ-followers with a burden to teach and equip God's people with God's financial principles so they can live purpose-filled and generous lives. Sign up for our mailing list to get new content from CSN directly to your inbox!