We didn’t really plan to do a stewardship series of posts, but it’s sorta turned out that way, hasn’t it? See our previous posts: 6 Key Financial Principles, Money Management Tools, and 6 More Financial Principles.
This post comes specifically out of our planning/budgeting our giving for 2009. For us, it’s about honoring God with our finances.
I heard that phrase from Bill Hybels several years ago in one of his audio recorded sermons, and it has stuck with me ever since. In that message, Hybels said …
Tithing isn’t fundamentally about money. It’s about the condition of your heart.
Giving money to the church isn’t just about fulfilling a duty, easing our conscience, helping the church pay its bills (including “shares of ministry,” in a United Methodist context). No, giving money to the church (to do God’s work) is about honoring God with our finances!
In a recent post, I briefly mentioned that we’ve set up a spreadsheet file that automatically calculates the amount we give for tithes and offerings, but didn’t go into any detail. For us, honoring God with our finances involves at least a few things …
Give proportionately. Each year, we set percentages for “tithes” and “offerings.” Technically “tithe” is a tenth (i.e. 10%), but we believe 10% is a starting point. We set a percentage of our “income,” including our pre-tax salaries, monetary gifts, interest earned, cash back from credit cards, and the fair rental value of the parsonage in which we live.
Increase our giving periodically. As we grow spiritually, we believe our desire to honor God with everything (including our finances) will increase as well. Practically speaking, that means we hope to increase the percentage of our giving over the course of our lives, as we have done periodically over the last 15 years.
Give tithes AND offerings. We’ve always used the language of “tithes and offerings” which comes from Malachi 3.8. I don’t know of any hard-and-fast rules on this, but this is what we do: we set a percentage for the “tithe” (beyond 10%) and set another small percentage for “offerings”; we each use this amount to give toward specific/special offerings as well as other ministries/causes (we’ve written about some of them before).
Again, while the Bible has a *lot* to say about money and possession, I’m not sure there are any real hard-and-fast rules on giving. I am comfortable with the concept of tithing, (with 10% as a starting point). Proportionate giving is simply a good system, I think. Regardless of your giving philosophy, though, I think some of the best advice comes from Paul in 2 Corinthians 9.7 …
You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”
Whatever system or philosophy you settle on, don’t be legalistic about it. And don’t give just to help the church pay its bills or meets its obligations — give simply because you want to honor God with your finances!