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Conventional Thinking: What’s not in your wallet?

It’s January, and people are joining expensive fitness clubs to get in shape. They are setting big and small goals meant to make them better people professionally, personally and spiritually in 2015.

In other words, it’s the New Year, and many are making resolutions that may or may not last. Yet how many of us will take this opportunity to re-examine one of the most important facets of life—our giving. What should Christians give and how?

///Then and now

The Old Testament standard of the tithe, which dates back to Abraham before the law was given, has long been viewed as the starting point to God-honoring giving (Gen. 14:20). This method of giving, which was reinforced by Moses (Lev. 27:30-32) and the prophets (Mal. 3:10), was to be done to and through the “storehouse.”

In the New Testament, in a period of grace, we see that God’s people are instructed to give to and through the church (1 Cor. 16:1-2), and to give sacrificially, generously, joyfully. While it is clear that we are no longer under the Law and obligated to give a tenth, the Spirit of God would and should cause us to go above and beyond 10 percent in the New Covenant. In other words, grace and love go above and beyond the law.

///It all belongs to God

In the Christian worldview, everything in all of creation belongs to God (Psalm 24:1), and this means your money too. Had God not made us and equipped us with strength and our daily bread, none of us would be able to work or earn one penny.

The genius of God’s plan for money and giving could be compared to a parent who pays his child to do chores. The parents own the house and have the money. The child helps take care of the house by cleaning his room, etc. and receives payment for the assigned work. The child then learns to give a portion to the church. The child brings nothing to the equation but instead finds worth in participating in it. The same could be said about each of us.

///The right ‘heart-set’

According to Jesus, our treasure tells us where our heart is (Matt. 6:21). What does your money say about you? C.S. Lewis said, “I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc, is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them.”

Moreover, the Apostle Paul says we are “to give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). In other words, God cares about our attitude in giving as much as the amount.

Whether you are giving out of your vast wealth or like the widow’s mite, the clear goal in 2015 should be generous, cheerful, sacrificial giving. When every Christian resolved to give in this manner, the church will be built up, and God will be honored. And who could be against a New Year’s resolution like that?

 

Brian Hobbs

Author: Brian Hobbs

Brian is editor of The Baptist Messenger.

View more articles by Brian Hobbs.

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