Give to your church, support a missionary, care for those in need
The world would be remarkably changed for the glory of God if all Christians simply did this: give to their local church, support a missionary, budget for spontaneous giving to those in need. Most Christians give dramatically less than this, but the 3 areas the NT most strongly encourages us to give toward are the local church, missionaries, and the needy. These simple commitments, born out of a sincere love for Jesus (and a rejection of a love of money), can radically change the world. Let’s take a look at each one.
GIVE TO YOUR CHURCH
As of now, around 37% of evangelicals do not give at all, and among those who do give, the average is 2.5% of their income. To give a "tithe" (10% of your income) is considered radically generous in our culture, but in Israel, tithing was the bare minimum for giving. The tithe was part of a number of financial commitments that added up to more like 20-30% of an Israelite's income. Giving less than that (out of greed or selfishness) was considered robbing God (Mal. 3:8). For many of us today who give little of our treasure, it’s often not because we can’t give more, but rather because we would rather give our money to other things that are more important to us than Jesus and his mission. Our treasure always follows our hearts (Matt. 6:21). It’s a heart issue, a worship issue, a love issue. We give to what we love.
So the NT doesn’t command tithing anywhere, but it does call for joyful, generous, sacrificial giving in response to God's love for us in Christ (2 Cor. 9:7). And the examples of giving that we see in the NT are often far more than a tithe; the widow who gave her only coins in the temple (Mark 12:41-44), the woman who gave her costliest ointment to anoint Jesus (Mark 14:3-5), the early church members who sold their houses and possessions and laid the proceeds at the feet of the apostles (Acts 4:34-35), and the Macedonian churches who gave “beyond their means” in the midst of “extreme poverty” (2 Cor. 8:1-2). It would be ridiculous to think that NT Christian giving, in response to the gospel, would somehow be less generous than the giving that was practiced in the OT. The gospel doesn't compel us to give less to God and more to the things of the world; quite the opposite!
So tithing is not a rule for Christians, but it is a great place to start; giving the 1st 10% of our income to God as an act of worship in response to the gospel, to thank God for his grace and honor him with our wealth (Pr. 3:9). We give that portion of the income God has blessed us with to our local church, to be used to care for our leaders who are preaching God’s word (1 Tim. 5:17) and support gospel ministry both locally and globally (our church’s budget includes local outreach, benevolence for the needy, minstry to low-income families, missions support, sponsoring orphans through Compassion, and translating the Bible into new languages through Pioneer). If you are struggling financially and cannot give 10% or more in this season of your life, you shouldn't feel guilty or burdened by that number. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have” (2 Cor. 8:12 NLT). Don't get hung up on a certain number, but rather give according to what you have, and do it eagerly with joy and faith as an act of worship, and know that God will be pleased with that!
SUPPORT A MISSIONARY
The gospel has been able to go out to the unreached because of the faithful work of missionaries and the faithful giving of those who support missionaries. That’s how God ordained it to happen. The apostle John spoke specifically to this in his 3rd epistle, calling churches to support missionaries “in a manner worthy of God. For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth” (3 John 1:6-8).
John was explaining that the missionaries didn’t want to accept money from the people they were bringing the gospel to, so that the message of God’s free gift of salvation wouldn’t be misunderstood, and therefore the missionaries needed outside support from churches to continue their work. Missionaries are able to get the gospel to the unreached because of the faithful giving of individuals and churches.
So on top of giving to our local church, we should also give regular monthly support to missionaries who are going out “for the sake of the name.” Even giving $20 a month (that you may have spent on Starbucks or a new shirt) can go a long way in helping a missionary serve the Lord! Our church supports missionaries in Tanzania and is setting aside money to send another couple to another unreached place or people group in a few years. We would love for you to support these families as well, and you can do so by clicking on their photos.
|Support the Wilcox's||Support the Myers|
BUDGET FOR SPONTANEOUS GIVING TO THOSE IN NEED
If you don’t have a budget, here’s a simple guide and tool to make one. It just means you intentionally plan where your money goes. My encouragement is that we budget 10% of our income to church, give monthly support to a missionary on top of that, and also set aside a portion of money each month to meet needs in your church and among your neighbors as they arise. Essentially, it’s a slush fund to dip into if a friend, neighbor, or church member is in need (sickness, car breakdowns, having a new baby, losing a job, and so on). It’s planning for spontaneous generosity, if that makes sense. The early church was known for this kind of hospitality and generosity for those in need; they understood they in Christ they were family (Acts 2:44-46).
So even if it’s only $10 a month, that could be an HEB gift card that really blesses a new mom or a struggling college student or a homeless man in need of some food. Or this could mean that you spend $40 a month on care packages for the homeless to keep in your car. Or you choose a family in your neighborhood that is struggling financially, and commit $60 a month to bringing them a meal once a week and praying with them. Jesus was generous and cared for the poor throughout his earthly ministry, and as his disciples we are called to do the same. There is nothing more joyful than sacrificing our own luxuries for the good of others in light of what Christ has done for us. The words of Jesus are true, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
God is the greatest giver. In love, he gave us his Son (John 3:16). In love, Jesus gave his very life for us (Rom. 5:8). God gives us his Spirit “without measure” (John 3:34). We love because he first loved us. We give because he first gave to us. All that we have already belongs to him anyway (Ps. 24:1)! How beautiful would it be if all Christians would respond to God’s grace by giving 10% to their local church, supporting a missionary, and setting aside money to meet the needs of others? Imagine how much more gospel-ministry could happen from our neighborhoods to the ends of the earth! Don’t worship your treasure. Worship Jesus with your treasure.