In the American church, a shift has quietly been taking place for a while now. The dialogue around giving, once transformative, now echoes with the hollow ring of transactional exchanges. But is this what God intended?
God's design for us to steward His resources is not a mere transaction; it is an invitation to a transformative spiritual journey.
When we give, we don't just exchange currency—we engage in a sacred act that changes us and mobilizes funds to fuel His work on earth through His church.
Yet, in failing to shepherd our congregations spiritually, we often miss a golden opportunity to guide them toward viewing their wealth and possessions through the lens of faith.
God's blueprint for our finances isn't designed merely for our survival—it's crafted for our growth.
If we keep the conversation at a transactional level, we risk prioritizing the financial well-being of the church over the individual giver's spiritual growth. Yet, this very growth ultimately propels the church to flourish.
In Philippians 4:17, Paul articulates that his primary interest wasn't the gifts he received from the Philippians but rather the spiritual transformation they underwent through their offerings to his ministry. “Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account.”
The unfortunate consequence of our failure to effectively educate our congregations is this: too many of them, perhaps even the majority, perceive giving as the hallmark of a believer. They assume all forms of giving are equivalent.
Giving alone does not define a believer. Non-believers also give, often with amazingly large gifts, to charities and educational institutions. Therefore, giving is not the unique characteristic of a believer. The true mark of a believer resides in the intent behind their giving.
The hallmark of a believer is demonstrated by prioritizing and regularly setting aside a portion of one’s income for the Lord in keeping with their understanding of the Bible. Many would say that is 10%, the tithe, but I don’t want to get into that in this writing. Like baptism, Godly people might have slightly differing positions on that.
But the point is a prioritized first portion to God. As the writer of Deuteronomy says in 14:23, “so that you may learn to revere the Lord your God always.”
The surest place to offer this to the Lord is the Church, the Bride of Christ, that actively carries out His work in their community and beyond.
That is not to the exclusion of charitable gifts beyond the local church.But, as Christ followers, our giving starts with the local church.
If you've come this far, you might be thinking, "I know all this." But do your people know? Probably not. So it's time to start the conversation.
Once you do that, skeptics may easily dismiss the church's intentions by saying, "The church just wants my money." Let’s set the record straight on that.
God doesn’t want your money.
God doesn’t need your money.
God is not after your money. God is after your heart. And so is the church.
God is not after your money. God wants to see your faith increase. And so does the church.
God doesn’t want the money out of your pocket and neither does the church. But God does want the idols out of your heart and so does the church.
Our giving has the potential to transform us, to sanctify us, to mold us into the image of Jesus.
Our stewardship of the financial resources entrusted to us by God speaks volumes about our relationship with Him, perhaps more than any other aspect of our lives. The Bible makes that clear in Matthew 25:14-30. The pathway to hearing “Well done, good and faithful servant” is correlated to our stewardship of what God has sovereignly placed under us.
Giving and generosity was a characteristic trait of the early church. It should be a defining attribute of our lives as well.
Not all giving is the same.As Christ followers, our prioritized giving to God’s work in and through the church is a sacred act. It is different than simply giving. It marks us. It serves as a TEST of the depth of our transformation through our faith in Christ. And it serves as a means of progressively sanctifying us throughout our lifetime.
Let's not overlook that. And let’s teach our people well.
As always, I’d love to continue the conversation if any of this strikes a chord with you. You can reach me at email@example.com.