Within the context of ‘stewardship’ as described above, we can consider the whole matter of ‘giving.’
We are called to give the whole of ourselves to God and neighbour: “Love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength; and love your neighbour as yourself.” (Mark 12:29-31). We are especially called to “pour ourselves out for the poor” (Isaiah 58:10). This is because God has poured Himself out for us through Jesus Christ and into us through the Holy Spirit. Giving, then, is not a question of how much must I give or how little I can get away with, but how eager I am to love the God who first loved me and gave himself up for me.
Timothy Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York offers a helpful guide to giving:
Giving must be in significant proportion
- The guideline of the tithe – in the Old Testament the people of God were required to give a tenth of their income to the support of the ministry and the needs of the poor. The New Testament does not specifically mention the tithe, but since we are far more blessed and indebted to God, we assume that we are held more responsible for generosity, not less. Thus the tithe (10%) annual gift is a kind of minimum guideline for giving.
- The guideline of sacrifice – Paul says about the Macedonians, ‘they gave as much as they were able and even beyond their ability’ (2 Corinthians 8:3). That means they gave until it meant a sacrifice in their lifestyle.
- The guideline of responsibility – Christians are also to give ‘according to their ability’ (Acts 11:29). There are seasons to economic life. And there are economic responsibilities to our families and to our debts. In many cases, good planning over time will be necessary to move our giving into Biblical proportions without reneging on legal and personal financial obligations.
Giving must be a joyful response to God’s grace
Paul asked for money this way: “I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love for you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, he became poor, so that through his poverty you might become rich.”
(2 Corinthians 8:8-9). What a test!
Giving must be systematic and thoughtful
Paul directed the Corinthians to set aside a portion of their wealth each week until he could come and take it to famine victims in Palestine (1 Corinthians 8:10-11). Usually ‘spontaneous’ and unplanned giving, while perhaps joyful (principle 2) is not in proportion (principle 1). The actual tally of completely spontaneous giving usually shows little sacrifice involved. A plan requires you to:
- Evaluate your own heart with regard to money – what do you most enjoy spending money on? What percentage of your income is going: (1) to God’s causes (Church, Christian ministries); (2) to people in need (outside your family). How close is this to 10% of your income? Read Matthew 6:19-34; 1 Timothy 6:6-10; 2 Corinthians 8:1-15; 9:6-15. Do you need to adjust your giving in light of eternal values?
- Evaluate the use of your ‘non-liquid’ resources
- Do you have a regular plan for giving? – Follow these steps: (1) decide what percentage of your income you will give to the Lord’s work this year; (2) ask whether this is a sacrificial figure and if it is a responsible figure; (3) set aside the Lord’s portion first whenever the money is received, it is His not yours.
- Prayerfully distribute the money among Christian causes as you see fit – remember, the more you trust God with your material treasure, the more He will entrust you with His spiritual treasure (Luke 16:9-12; 2 Corinthians 9:10-12).
There are a number of opportunities and methods for giving to and through Abbey. The simple method based on these principles is to use the Weekly Freewill Offering envelopes (WFO). Just contact the WFO Secretary to receive an envelope number and to be guided on the tax relief schemes that can enhance your giving. Arrangements can also be made through the banking system (Standing Orders etc).
Our finances are audited annually in compliance with legal and ecclesial obligations, and are available for public scrutiny. Just as individuals are accountable to God for their giving, so we have a corporate responsibility to God and to the world for our stewardship of these resources. As a congregation and as a denomination we regularly update people with news of our work and mission.