How Do We Learn About Giving?
According to a number of studies on charitable giving:
People age 50 and above say that they learned how to give from their
People age 30-50 most often give to the church because of what they
learned about stewardship in a Sunday School Class or from an
occasional stewardship sermon.
People under the age of 30 are not learning the principles of
stewardship and are not actively giving in the support of the church
and its ministries.
My parents taught me to tithe (now you know my age!)―giving ten percent of my income off the top―for the Lord’s work. I have done that all my life, and it has been a wonderful blessing. But now let me make a confession: as a pastor, it’s been hard to talk about giving from fear that people will take it as self-serving. “After all,” they may think, “if the church has a bigger budget, it really looks good for Doug.” Well, it’s time for me to get over that. Giving is a blessing. It has little to do with the church budget and everything to do with your spiritual growth and joy.
The Old Testament standard for giving was the tithe (ten percent) of any property or produce. “A tenth of the produce of the land, whether grain or fruit, belongs to the Lord and must be set apart to him as holy” (Leviticus 27:30). This gift was both a response of thanksgiving and also an expression of allegiance to God. Failure to observe the tithe was viewed as robbing God. “You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. You are under a curse for your nation has been cheating me” (Malachi 3:8,9). In other words, the tithe doesn’t even belong to us in the first place! It belongs to God.
God’s grace is such, however, that when we give him what is his, he gives generously to us. “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do, I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in!” (Malachi 3:8-10).
The New Testament continues to assume that God people will tithe, but it gives us the additional model of proportional giving in 1 Corinthians 16:1-4. As a regular habit, proportional giving reminds us:
1) that God graciously provides for us;
2) that we are responsible to support others;
3) that we are blessed as we focus on spiritual treasure, not worldly gain.
When you get down to it, giving has everything to do with gratitude and spiritual growth. Consider your giving patterns. Are you regularly giving a proportion or percentage of your income to the Lord? If not, what specific step can you take in that direction?
See you in church!