How is Your Giving Life Going?
I recently read Randy Alcorn’s book Money, Possessions, and Eternity. The entire book is a ball of conviction. His argument is so impactful because it comes from the pages of Scripture. This part particularly got me.
Paul says, “See that you also excel in this grace of giving” (2 Corinthians 8: 7). Like piano playing, giving is a skill. With practice, we get better at it. We can learn to give more, give more often, and give more strategically. We teach the pursuit of excellence in our vocations. Why not make giving something we study, discuss, and sharpen, striving for excellence? We have Bible studies on everything else. Why not giving?
Paul is not just speaking to individuals. The church is to work together corporately to excel in giving. It’s increasingly common for Christians to ask each other the tough questions: “How are you doing in your marriage?” “How much time have you been spending in the Word?” “How’s your sexual purity?” “Have you been sharing your faith?” But how often do we ask, “Have you been robbing God?” or “Are you winning the battle against materialism?” or “How much are you giving to the Lord?”
When it comes to giving, churches operate under a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. We lack communication, accountability, and modeling. It’s as if we have an unspoken agreement—“ I won’t talk about it if you won’t”—so we can go right on living as we are. Ask the young people at your church if they can point out examples of prayer warriors in the congregation, people who have a lot to teach about prayer. Most can come up with names. Now ask them to point out the giving warriors, people who have a lot to teach about giving. The fact that the term giving warrior sounds so foreign says it all, doesn’t it?
Think about it—how do young Christians in our churches learn how to give? Where can they go to see what giving looks like in the life of a believer captivated by Christ? Why are we surprised when, seeing no other example, they take their cues from a materialistic society? Statistics clearly indicate that young adults in the church give a much lower percentage of their income. Part of the reason is that older Christians have failed to pass on a vision for giving.
We’re to “consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10: 24). Shouldn’t we be asking, “How can we spur on each other’s giving? How can we help each other excel in giving?”
One way church leaders can inspire giving is by committing the church to give away a higher percentage of its own income. Does 15 percent of the church’s income go to missions? Raise it to 25 percent next year and more the next. Does 5 percent go to helping the poor? Raise it to 15 percent. For the same reason that churches wanting to discourage their people from incurring debt should not incur debt, churches wanting to encourage giving should give. Giving shouldn’t just be something churches talk about, but something they do.
When Paul said to “excel” in giving, he was referring to special giving to suffering believers facing famine in Jerusalem. Pastors shouldn’t limit instruction on giving to times where they’re raising funds for building projects. Why not preach on giving for four weeks, and then follow it not with an offering that will benefit the church but with a missions offering that will benefit others? If we want people to stretch themselves in their giving, the best way to model this is for the church to stretch itself in its giving.