Generosity and Stewardship

Generosity has always been a value at Christ Church. We’ve seen God’s provision at nearly every turn as we’ve sought to follow Jesus faithfully. As Christians, we believe that God will take care of us, providing all of our needs as we seek to serve Him (Matthew 6:31-33, Philippians 4:19). Thus, we are free to give.

When we give generously of our time, our talent, and our treasure, we are doing several things. First, when we give we acknowledge that God is the ultimate Giver, and that all that we have comes as a result of His generosity. This means that, rather than focusing on our own needs, we are free to look to the needs of others and, out of God’s provision in our own lives, give generously to those in need. Also, giving allows us to be free from the potentially destructive power of wealth and possessions. Every time we give we are making a clear statement that wealth, which is the only false god that Jesus names (Mark 6:24), does not have a hold on us.

In the Old Testament, the people of Israel were instructed to practice tithing. In an agrarian society like ancient Israel this meant bringing the first ten percent of the harvest and offering it to the Lord in thanksgiving (see Deuteronomy 12:6). Also, the people were instructed to leave some of their crop for the strangers, the orphans, and widows to glean, thus providing for the most vulnerable members of society (Deuteronomy 24:21).

Many have suggested that because we are under the New Covenant we are no longer obligated to obey the Old Testament Law; thus, tithing is no longer obligatory. While this is technically true, the principle of offering the first fruits of our labor to the Lord and “leaving some for the poor” is an important part of our discipleship—just as important as prayer, study, and worship. In our non-agrarian society, we don’t do this with wheat, barley, and cattle, but with our income. And while mandating ten percent is a legalism that we want to avoid, it does serve as a benchmark. For some, especially those with low or fixed incomes, ten percent is probably a good goal. But for others, especially those on the higher end of the income scale, ten percent may be too little.

I’d like to challenge each of us, as individuals and as families, to pray about this and set a goal for our giving. At Christ Church, we set aside ten percent of our annual income to support ministries outside of our congregation, specifically to ministries focusing on caring for the most vulnerable, both physically and spiritually.

Since we’ve been married, Tracy and I have been committed to tithing, and we can testify that God has always taken care of us as we’ve intentionally practiced generosity. According to Paul, Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). If that is true, why wouldn’t we give generously? It is a blessing to us and a blessing to those to whom we give.

As we prepare to conclude our season of stewardship next Sunday, November 19, please continue to pray about how God may lead us to give to Christ Church in 2018. May each of us become “cheerful givers” (2 Corinthians 9:7), trusting in God and blessing the world.