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Posts from the ‘Effective Stewardship’ Category

Effective Stewardship – Month #10

God uses money as a testimony in the lives of His people.

“But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness,

and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33).

 

“ . . . if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away . . . everything has become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).  Christians should have a different outlook on life, including money and material possessions.  They realize that they own nothing, that everything they have belongs to God, and that they are only managers and stewards of what God has entrusted to them.  Because of that, Christians should have a different attitude towards “things.”

That attitude demonstrates itself in many different ways.

For example, Christians show mercy and give, in contrast to the those who borrow and do not repay (Psalm 37:21).

Christians should hold possessions with an open hand, and “refresh” others with their bounty (Proverbs 11:24-25).

They are honest and demonstrate their faith by their work and integrity (1 Thes. 4:11-12).

They give to those in need and thereby demonstrate to a watching world the love of God (1 John 3:17).

When this kind of lifestyle is present in our lives, Jesus said that people will see our good works — our different attitude and perspective — and will glorify our heavenly Father (Matt. 5:16).  And as we seek His kingdom first and foremost, we have His promise that He will provide what we need (Matt. 6:33).

As others observe you and your lifestyle, do they see any difference because of your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ?

As they observe your relationship to “things,” especially to money, do they realize you are a manager, a steward, and not an owner?

Or stated another way, is the manner in which you handle money and material possessions a testimony to your faith in Christ?

 

 

 

Effective Stewardship – Month #9

God uses money as a test to help us grow.

“If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth,

who will entrust to you the true riches?” (Luke 16:11)

 

Someone once said, “Experience is a good teacher, but she gives the test first and then the lesson.” That’s certainly true, and based on many of life’s experiences, we frequently fail the test before we can benefit from the lesson.

The formula “e equals mc2” is familiar to many college students but understood by very few people. Most of us know it had something to do with Einstein and was the formula that led to the release of enormous power and to the nuclear age. Similarly, in funding the local church, “e” might stand for every, “m” for member, “c” for commitment, and the “2” for the effort multiplied by itself. The fruit of that kind of effort is much more powerful than what Einstein discovered, even as Jesus described it in Matthew 21:22 — “Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.”

Right now, as we consider the opportunity to support the ministries here at Central United Methodist Church, God is putting us to the test. As Gordon Moyes stated, “Responsible giving or stewardship is not man’s way of raising money, but God’s way of raising people. . . .The church’s budget is not a list of its expenses, but a record of its vision. It is not a list of bills to be met, but a program of ministry to be achieved.”

As each of us prayerfully considers what God would have us give, and as we obey what God asks of us, we can trust Him to provide the resources. That’s a test — a test of where we are spiritually much more than where we are financially. It’s a test of us as individuals and of us as a church. The question is whether or not we really believe that God has the power and ability to bless our obedience “far more than all we can ask or imagine” (Eph. 3:20).

How are you doing concerning God’s tests regarding money in your life? If God’s provision in your life in the days ahead depends on how you obey His leading now concerning your giving, what will the future be like for you?

It just might, you know. . . .

 

 

 

Effective Stewardship – Month #8

God uses money as a tool to help us grow.

“Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed;

for one’s life does not consist in the

abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15).

 

A wise person once observed, “Half of any task is having the right tool, and the other half is knowing what to do with it.” Although we don’t often consider it as such, money is a tool which God uses in our lives as a means of spiritual growth.

You see, money is not an end in and of itself. It is a means to an end. And in God’s hands, one of its primary “ends” is to instruct us and to help us grow spiritually. God especially wants us to avoid our natural tendency which is a bent toward selfishness, greed, and hoarding. That’s why the Lord Jesus said, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15).

Well, if an individual’s life does not consist in having a lot of possessions, in what does it consist?  Jesus provided an insightful answer to that question in Matthew 6:20-21, where He said, “ . . . store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Now, according to Jesus’ teaching in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25), there is nothing wrong with saving. There is nothing wrong with investing or earning interest on investments. There is nothing wrong with being a wise steward by planning for the future.

In fact, Jesus taught that those who do so are to be commended.  But our primary emphasis as God’s children is to make our investments in the “Bank of Heaven.”  When we do that, our investments are secure.  They are not affected by inflation, by theft, by wear and tear, or anything of the kind.

There is only one way to make deposits in this special “bank”:  By giving to the Lord’s work.  Although the money is used here, it is credited to your eternal account.

Each time you give your tithes and offerings at Central United Methodist Church, you are giving to the Lord by investing for eternity.  You are storing up “treasures in heaven” that will glorify God forever.

 

 

 

Tithe: Four Spheres That Need Your Financial Gifts

A conscientious young couple feels obligated to tithe (10 percent) to their local church, but they also want to support a friend doing missionary work in Rwanda.

On their tight budget, they can’t tithe to their church and significantly support their missionary friend.  They are frustrated and ask you for advice.

What would you say?

These New Testament passages illustrate giving to four groups to advance the gospel—the local church, family, the poor, and missions.

The Local Church

Galatians 6:6: The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him.

Paul instructs the new believers in Galatia (Antioch of Pisidia, Derbe, Lystra, Iconium) to share all good things with their teachers. Does sharing all good things mean merely sharing the spiritual truths they have been taught? No. Galatians 6 is about doing good—especially to the “household of the faith” (6:10). Paul is boldly saying, “Financially support those who teach you!”

In America, studies find that 2 percent of churchgoers give nothing to their church[1], and 34 percent of churchgoers give to four or more organizations [besides their church].[2] Church leaders sadly admit that the Pareto 80/20 principle (law of the vital few) is at work in church giving—80 percent comes from 20 percent of the people.

If those who attend a local church don’t support it, who will? If you receive significant spiritual teaching from your local church, shouldn’t a significant part of your giving go there?

Your Family

1 Timothy 5:8: But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

The Old Testament had laws to protect widows, but what is our role today in caring for widows and family? Paul says the head of the family must provide for his own. Don’t abdicate your responsibility for the care of your widowed mother or aunt to the church—or the government.

But aren’t you responsible for supporting your family anyway, apart from your giving? Of course, but sometimes, family members need an extra boost. If your extra help for needy family members advances the gospel, you may consider that as part of your giving. However, supporting family can be never-ending! Set a boundary. Helping family members does not excuse you from generously supporting your church, the poor or missions.

The Poor

Galatians 2:10: They only asked us to remember the poor—the very thing I also was eager to do.

In this passage, Paul recounts how the Apostles asked him to remember the poor as he preached to the Gentiles, and he is eager to help the poor—not reluctant.

At the Last Supper, the disciples mistakenly thought Jesus had instructed Judas to leave the feast and “give something to the poor” (John 13:29). This reveals that Jesus habitually gave to the poor.

Praying for the poor is not enough. Preaching to the poor is not enough. The old saying is true: An empty stomach has no ears.

Missions

3 John 7-8: For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support such men, so that we may be fellow workers with the truth.

The early church sent gospel proclaimers all over the Eastern Mediterranean. By supporting gospel travelers, the believers were fellow workers with the truth—true giving partners. As you support gospel workers, you are not “just a donor.” You are a fellow worker with the truth!

So we have four places to give to advance the gospel. How much should we allocate to each one? The New Testament doesn’t say. However, regarding the tithe, the New Testament does not teach giving 10 percent to the local church. Jesus mentions tithing twice, but neither time does He command it for His followers. Paul taught much about giving, but he was silent on tithing.

In your giving, are these four groups represented?  How much should you give to each one?  Ask the Lord for His guidance about His money.

Prayer:  Father of all, sometimes I don’t know where to give.  I must help my family, but I need boundaries.  I want to be generous with my church too, but I often neglect the poor and missions.  Help me honor You in my giving.  Give me an idea!  Amen.

 

Effective Stewardship – Month #7

We are personally accountable to God for

how we use the money He has entrusted to us.

“For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ,

so that each may receive recompense for what has been

done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Cor. 5:10).

 

If you read annual reports from publicly held companies or banks, you will frequently see the word “fiduciary.” Fiduciary is used as an adjective to describe something which is held in trust. It is also used as a noun to describe the one who is a trustee who must account for that which is held in trust.

For example, a bank president has a fiduciary responsibility to stockholders in the bank and to depositors who place their money in the bank. A company treasurer has a fiduciary responsibility to the owners of the company. A payroll clerk has a fiduciary responsibility to pay people what they have earned.

You may never have considered yourself a fiduciary, and you may never have acted officially in a fiduciary capacity, but in reality, you are a fiduciary. All of us are. That applies both to Christians and to those who are not part of God’s family through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We who are Christians will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ. There, we will not be judged for salvation, since the penalty and judgment for sin was settled once and for all on the cross of Calvary when the Lord Jesus paid the price for our sin. Instead, when we stand before Christ, we will give an account of how we have used what God has entrusted to us.

Just as a bank president must account to stockholders and depositors on how their funds are used, we must account to Christ for how we have used what God has entrusted to us. Since everything we have rightfully belongs to Him, we will need to report on how we have managed His assets!

As you consider how you have used what God has entrusted to your care and keeping during the past few months, what kind of job have you done? And more importantly, as a “fiduciary” of what God has placed in your hands, will you stand before Him with joy, eager to report on your giving and management of His assets?

 

 

 

7 Promises God Gives People Who Tithe

7 Promises God Gives People Who TitheThese promises come from my primary passage Malachi 3:8-12, during which God makes this request, “‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,’ says the Lord of  hosts. This is what God says He will do if you test Him:

  1. “I will not open for you the windows of heaven” – This indicates a sudden deluge of activity. It is important to note God used this same verbiage in Genesis 7:11-12 when referring to Noah’s flood.
  2. “and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.” – Rather than being a destructive form of judgement as in Noah’s day, this sudden deluge of activity will be blessings which cannot be contained.  
  3. Then I will rebuke the devourer for you” – Many feel that there was also a physical drought during Malachi’s day in addition to the spiritual drought. The caterpillars and locusts which devoured crops were under God’s mighty hand. So are the devourers in your life.
  4. “so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground” – It has been my experience things just last longer for those who put God first with their finances. The cars last longer. The appliances last longer. The HVAC seems to keep working.
  5. “nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes,” says the Lord of hosts. – Back to farming, you will no longer be a barren land. You will live a fruitful and joyful life. While God may directly bless your finances, He may choose to bless other areas of your life such as your family, health, career or spiritual condition of those you love.
  6. “All the nations will call you blessed” – Wikipedia states there are 195 countries in the world today. Google Analytics says the leadership content from this site has been read in 198 countries since the beginning of the year. Literally, every nation in the world has benefited from this site’s content.  
  7. “for you shall be a delightful land,” says the Lord of hosts. – A revival of generosity and the love of people will be an attractive quality for all who know you.

I tested God in the area of tithing and He delivered on all seven of these promises. He honored my faithfulness, but more importantly, He honored His everlasting Word.

This article originally appeared here.

Effective Stewardship – Month #6

Money is one of God’s gifts to people.

“Likewise all to whom God gives wealth and

possessions and whom he enables to enjoy them,

and to accept their lot and find enjoyment in their toil —

this is the gift of God” (Eccl. 5:19).

 

“Likewise all to whom God gives wealth and possessions and whom he enables to enjoy them, and to accept their lot and find enjoyment in their toil — this is the gift of God” (Eccl. 5:19).

Don’t you just love gifts?  There is great satisfaction both in getting gifts and in giving them. Since we are created in the image of God, it stands to reason that He also must take great delight in giving and receiving gifts.

All that we have comes from His hand, but in particular, Solomon indicated that money and riches and the ability to enjoy them are gifts from God. In other words, God gives us that which is rightfully His, and then He allows us the enjoyment of wealth and money. As we enjoy what He has entrusted to us, no doubt He takes great pleasure in our enjoyment if our actions are in conformity to His Word and His will.

How can we be sure that our enjoyment of money and wealth is according to God’s plan? The Bible contains a great deal of specific instruction as to how we are to use money, but this guiding principle is to motivate our entire lives, including the use and enjoyment of wealth: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).

There’s nothing wrong with money. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the things that money can buy. Solomon was correct when he said that both are gifts from God. The key is to use money in such a way that our enjoyment will bring glory to God. One of the primary ways to do that is to give to the Lord and His work here at Central United Methodist Church.

During the past few months, have you kept God’s glory as the number one priority in your use of money?  Or have other things taken the place of your giving to God?

 

 

Effective Stewardship – Month #5

God grants to people the ability to earn that

which is His already: money and wealth.

“Riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all.

In your hand are power and might;

and it is in your hand to make great

and to give strength to all” (1 Chron. 29:12).

 

An oxymoron is the use of two terms which are contradictory in nature. “Jumbo shrimp” is an oxymoron. “Ferocious lamb” is another. “Dumb scholar” is yet another.

One of the saddest and most contradictory is the oxymoron, “Stingy Christian.”

Because we have been redeemed through our faith in Christ, Christians should be the most generous of all people. We have been abundantly blessed of God, who has given us all things richly to enjoy (Rom. 8:32).

James 1:17 expresses this truth clearly: “Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

Think about some of God’s good gifts:

  • God gives the seed (Gen. 1:11).
  • God gives the rain (Job 5:10).
  • God gives health (Jer. 30:17).
  • God gives life (Acts 17:25).
  • God gives strength (Isa. 40:29).
  • God gives riches (1 Chron. 29:12).
  • God gives grace (2 Cor. 12:9).
  • God gives eternal life (Rom. 6:23).

And God gives us money and the ability to get wealth.  Solomon said that money is one of God’s gifts to people.  The purpose for which He gives us money is stated clearly in Ecclesiastes 5:19 — for our enjoyment.

Some of us make that the primary reason for money.  We major in pleasure and the things money can do for us.  But there is another major purpose God gives us money, something that also can bring great pleasure: To give it back to Him.

That’s why of all the oxymorons in existence, “Stingy Christian” is the most contradictory.  We who have been given the most from God should be the most generous people in the world.

As the tombstone in an old cemetery read, “What I spent, I had; what I saved, I lost; what I gave, I have.”

 

The Principle of the Test: Every Time You Get Paid, You Take a Test

Here is a short Stewardship meditation by Josh Daffern.


I enjoyed school growing up, but there was one fear that I had, and in fact it was a nightmare I had on more than one occasion. In fact, I’m willing to bet some of you have had a version of this same exact nightmare.

The nightmare is that you walk into school one morning, and everything seems normal. You walk into your first class, and you start to get bad vibes because you see everyone with their heads buried in their textbooks, frantically flipping pages and looking stressed.

And then (here’s where the horror comes in) one of your classmates looks up and says, “Are you ready for the test today?” And then you say the two words you never, ever, ever want to utter as a student: “What . . . test?” Isn’t that a horrible feeling?

As Christian adults, we all take a test multiple times a month, and most of us don’t even realize we’re taking one.

I believe in the Principle of First, that if God is first in your life, everything will come into order.

But if God is not first in your life, nothing will come into order.

I don’t think many Christians would disagree with this concept in theory. It’s the application that gets a bit tricky. This principle includes every area of our lives, including our finances. If God is first in every area of our life but not in our finances, then He’s still not first. That leads to another timeless principle (kudos to Robert Morris and his original sermon on this concept): the Principle of the Test.

The Principle of the Test: Every time you get paid, you take a test. Whether you get paid once a week, twice a month, once a month or at any other interval, every time you get paid, you take a test. The test is simply this: is God first in your finances? Where does the first portion of your income go? Does it go to God or somewhere else? In Matthew 23:23 Jesus affirms the old covenant concept of the tithe when he says,

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” Matthew 23:23

  • Do we trust God with the first portion, the first tenth (tithe) of our income?
  • Tithing is ultimately about trust: do you trust that if you give God your first portion, that He will provide for you and take care of your needs?
  • Do you trust that 90% of your income blessed by God will go farther than 100% of your income not blessed by God?

Whether you realize it or not, multiple times a month, every single time you get paid, you take a test on this critical decision of trust.

  • Is God really first in your life?  Your words may whisper an answer but your pocketbook screams the truth.

 

Effective Stewardship – Month #4

The amount of money we have is determined by God.

“But remember the Lord your God, for it is he

who gives you power to get wealth” (Deut. 8:18).

 

There are some wonderful principles in the Old Testament which apply to present-day Christians.

One of these is in Deuteronomy 8:10-18.  Stated in contemporary language, it says, “When you have eaten and are full, when your cars, houses and bank accounts multiply, don’t forget where it came from: Remember the Lord your God.”

In truth, all that we have comes from God.  He determines what we will receive, whether it be money, gold, silver, houses, land, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, etc.

It all belongs to Him in the first place, and He entrusts it to us.  According to David’s prayer in 1 Chronicles 29, riches, honor, power, and wealth all come from God.

That’s why there is no such thing as a self-made man or woman.  Oh, we have to do our part.  God’s plan is not that we just sit around praying and reading the Bible all day long so that what we need to survive will miraculously drop into our hands.

We’re not just to pray for “our daily bread,” but we’re also to get up each day and work for it!   That’s why the Apostle Paul stated clearly, “Anyone unwilling to work should not eat” (2 Thess. 3:10).

But in reality, the amount of money and wealth which we receive is determined by God.  According to His divine will and knowledge, He entrusts to each of us the amounts which He knows will be best for us.

What should be our reaction to our financial state?

  • Some might pray, “Dear Lord, you must have made a mistake concerning me and my finances.  Please give me more money.”
  • Others might try to circumvent God’s design for their lives by trying to win the lottery or to obtain large sums of money through some other means.
  • Mature Christians, however, will realize God’s infinite wisdom far surpasses their limited perspective.  They will accept with a thankful spirit what God has entrusted to them and seek to honor God by their living and by their giving.

Effective Stewardship – Month #2

Because all that we have belongs to God, our goal in using that which belongs to Him is to glorify Him.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).

When he was president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Gordon MacDonald said, “One of the greatest teachings missing in the American church today is the reminder to men and women that nothing we have belongs to us.”

We own nothing. We have been given material means to use, but not to own. All that we have belongs to God. He is our Source according to Psalm 62:5. We are only managers and stewards of what He has entrusted to us.

Because all that we have belongs to God, and because He gives us the ability to obtain wealth, every spending decision is in reality a spiritual decision. According to 1 Corinthians 10:31, our constant goal must be to glorify God in all of life, including how we use His resources.

Stephen Olford wrote this: “ . . . man’s chief end is ‘to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.’

  • We are to glorify God by our worshipful praise (Psalm 50:23). 
  • We are to glorify Him by our consistent fruitbearing (John 15:8). 
  • We are to glorify Him by our spiritual unity (Rom. 15:6).
  • We are to glorify Him by our entire dedication (1 Cor. 6:20).
  • And we are to glorify Him by our good works (Matt. 5:16). In this last category is included the matter of giving.

Only in this way can we provide for ‘honest things in the sight of the Lord.’ The glory of God should motivate us to give and to give our best.”

If our goals and ambitions are truly set on spiritual things, if our emphasis in life is to glorify God, we will use the funds He has “loaned” to us on a temporary basis to glorify Him. We will put His money and possessions to good use by giving to His work and by storing up “treasures in heaven” (Matt. 6:19-21).

There are two key questions to be asked concerning money and possessions:

  • First, are you glorifying God in how you are using the money and possessions He has entrusted to you?
  • And second, are you viewing these things as yours or as His?

 

 

Top 10 Reasons People Don’t Tithe

TithingTithing is a spiritual discipline many Christians practice.

In its simplest form, it means giving back to God 10 percent of what you make.

I’ve practiced it for years as a regular part of my giving.  I tithe ‘plus’ to my local church and I give to other causes on top of that.

However, I’ve seen 10 common reasons that church people give for not tithing. I list them below with a counterpoint below each.

1. It’s all mine anyway. Why should I give?

2. I give elsewhere.

This is the person who counts his giving to secular causes, his time or paying for his child’s Christian school tuition as his tithe.

  • Counterpoint:  Do causes around the purposes of God get the lion’s share of your giving?

3. Tithing is not in the New Testament.

This is one of the most common.

  •         CounterpointWhen Jesus fulfilled the law, He didn’t revise spirituality downward.

4. God will provide through other people. 

This person believes that other people will give to support the cause of Christ in their church.

  •          Counterpoint: God chose to release His resources through all believers.

5. My gifts don’t really count. 

This person thinks that because he can’t give much, his giving really doesn’t matter.

  •         CounterpointDon’t minimize the size of any gift (recall the story of the poor widow in Mark 12.41-44).

Tithing Statistics6. I don’t trust preachers.

This is understandable due to the few high profile ministers who misuse God’s money.

  • CounterpointIf you lead a church, make sure you instill the highest standards of stewardship and accountability.

7. I only give to projects I like.

This is the control freak who only gives to projects he or she can designate funds to. Some people in this category even hold back their giving in their church because they haven’t gotten their way.

  • Counterpoint: Trust your church leadership to wisely manage God’s money.

8. I have no control over my finances. My husband does.

In this case (and it’s almost always a wife in this position) her husband controls the finances and although the wife wants to give, he prohibits it.

  •   CounterpointRest in the Lord, He knows your heart.

9. I will tithe when I can afford it.

  • CounterpointIf you wait, you probably never will. Research shows that contrary to what we might assume, the more money a person makes, the less percentage they give.

10. I’m afraid to. (These people honestly fear what might happen to them or their family if they give.)

  • CounterpointStep out in faith knowing that God promises to meet your needs.

 

Why Should We Give?

OfferingEvery day, we are given the opportunity to open our hearts to the many gifts we have been given by our God. We are asked at that time, to consider what we can give back to God, through our giving. We should remember that giving is not seasonal, but continual.

When considering our giving, there are several questions we need to ask ourselves.

 

• Are we giving for the right reasons?
• Are we giving to our Church to “keep the lights on” or to advance God’s word?
• Are we looking inward or outward?
• Are we giving for mortar or missions?
• Are we giving out of a feeling of begrudged obligation or out of gratitude?
• Do we give only to the ministries we agree with rather than to the overall mission of the church?

There are several reasons people don’t like to give to the church.

• Some may feel that they need to spend the money on themselves and their families.
• Some may have disagreements with church leaders over how the money is spent.
• Perhaps some fear the future – not knowing if they will have enough.

For all the reasons we may have for not being a faithful steward, the Bible gives us reasons why we should.

So, why should we give?

  • We give financially to God because he has given us everything.
  • When we give to God, we are expressing our love to him.
  • We should give to expand his Son’s church.
  • When we give financially to God, we will become rich in every way, but especially spiritually.
  • God gives to us so that we are able to give yet some more.
  • Every possession we have is through God.
  • He provides for us so that we can use His resources to bring Him glory and expand His kingdom.
  • God deserves and expects us to give to Him first before anything else.
  • He expects us to give cheerfully and to give regularly and in accordance with our income.

Please prayerfully consider all these principals today and every day when determining your level of giving.

Deuteronomy 15:10

10 Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.

 

Tithing – Why I Give

Shannon Meister, laywoman, talks about her faith in tithing.

Shannon Meister, laywoman, talks about her faith in tithing.

Recently, someone asked me to provide a testimony about why I give my resources and my gifts to the church. I grew up in The United Methodist Church and was always taught about giving and tithing. Yet, giving a testimony really made me think and reflect about why I truly give.

My parents always made a point to give money every Sunday we were in church, which was nearly every Sunday. My mom used to write the check and let me put it in the offering plate. That left an impression on me because of her faithfulness in this act.

When I was in middle school or high school, I remember having a conversation with our pastor about how and why she tithed 10 percent of her income before taxes. I remember as a young teenager how that simply blew my mind. That memorable conversation has stuck with me so much that as I have gone through various jobs and wages, I have strived to do the same.

One wise pastor often preached that giving is not about the church’s need for money but about our need to give. Isn’t that true of all of our gifts and resources in the church? It is about our need to be a part of something bigger than we are. It is about hope for a better world that we believe and know is possible.

Much too often, it is easy to be caught up in our consumer society where it is all about us. We want better, newer and faster everything. I find this especially true with the technological gadgets in my life. However, we, as Christians, know that this is not where our treasure lies. We know these things are not what is truly important. Yet, we are still tempted, aren’t we?

As I further reflect, I know I have friends who have a lot more time and money than I do. Some days, this bothers me. But when I think about it, I know they probably don’t tithe their resources; and they don’t have something bigger to believe in and live for.

“Crazy,” a song by Mercy Me, states, “Even though the world may think I’m losing touch with reality, it would be crazy to choose this world over eternity.” Even though the world often thinks of Christians as crazy for the things we do and the sacrifices we make, we know there is a bigger picture than just life on this earth, don’t we? That is why I give and why I believe. It is about something bigger than the hour I spend at a missions meeting or the check that I write. It is even about something bigger than a weekend with several thousand youth. It is about how we can pool our resources and change the world by the grace of God.

Adapted from a story by Shannon Meister, director of Culture & Connections at The Way

United Methodist Church Giving is about people working together to accomplish something bigger than themselves. In so doing, we effect change around the world, all in the name of Jesus Christ.

 

Effective Stewardship – Month #1

All that we have belongs to God.

“The earth is the Lord’s, and all that is in it,

The world, and those who live in it”  (Psalm 24:1)

 

“God Owns It All” is the chapter heading in a book by a Christian author who presents this chapter first as the foundation for money management and giving.

God does own it all! That is the teaching of Psalm 24:1 which says, “The earth is the Lord’s.” Psalm 50:10 says that all of the beasts of the field belong to God, and that the cattle on a thousand hills are His. Haggai 2:8 says that God even owns the sil­ver and gold in all the mines.

Now, He allows us to use what rightfully belongs to Him, but God continues to retain the ownership. We are managers and stewards of what God has entrusted to us. Someday, when we stand before Him, we shall give an account of what kind of job we have done in managing the resources which God has allowed us to use.

That’s why every spending decision becomes a spiritual decision. Every time we use some of God’s money, we are making a decision which has eternal ramifications.

  • Are you using money and possessions as if they belong to you, or are you making spending deci­sions with the full realization that it all belongs to God?

 

Effective Stewardship

Most Christians have never been taught how to give.  The problem is not apathy, but rather, ignorance.  As a result, many Christians give God “left-overs,” i.e., what is left at the end of the month when all other financial obligations have been paid.

At Central Church, we are seeking to instill the principle that God is the owner of everything and that we are managers and stewards of what God has entrusted to us.  Once people come face to face with that principle, they either must change their lifestyle (how they live) or their conscience (what they believe).

We also believe that giving does not begin with the movement of the hand to the wallet, purse or checkbook.  Rather, as clearly taught in Exodus 25:2 and 2 Corinthians 9:7, spiritual giving begins when we give ourselves to the Lord.  When that happens, our financial resources will follow, and we will practice “first-fruits” giving, i.e., giving to God first.

The primary goal of our Effective Stewardship reflections is to help people to be better stewards of all that God has entrusted to them.