Sunday, August 08, 2004

Thoughts on Christian Giving

Last year I was asked to preach on 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 in our little church in Bathurst [3 hours west of Sydney, and a thousand kilometres from care!] In preparing for this I read the relevant chapters in Scott Hafemann's NIVAC Commentary on 2 Corinthians and Craig Blomberg's wonderful Neither Poverty Nor Riches. Reading these books challenged me to reassess my own giving, and later encountering Randy Alcorn's The Treasure Principle was also a great stimulant to my thinking.

Here are a few thoughts I have about giving:
1. Jesus, Paul and other NT folk teach generosity, not tithing, but to use this information to give less than 10% would not seem to be right for a person who has received God's gifts so freely!

2. Giving to your local church is primary, but it must not end there. For one thing, most local churches spend almost all you give them on themselves, and only a tiny amount ends up supporting God's work beyond your local area.

3. It seems to me that Jesus' words in Matthew 25 about kindness to his brothers and sisters who were hungry and thirsty, needing clothes, in prison or needing a welcome is a good guide to Christian giving. I think we should support Christians in need or being persecuted for their faith, without neglecting giving to causes that ameliorate suffering of people of all cultures, races and creeds.

4. Craig Blomberg's challenge of giving more as God blesses you has led me to seek to increase my giving a little each year, and this experiment has been a joy which has worked well for the past 2 years. I have begun by increasing my giving by a tiny amount each year, with a view to supporting my local church more faithfully, Christian missions which my church sponsors, a humanitarian Christian organisation which loans money to the poor, and a ministry which supports persecuted Christians. My next project is to begin giving to indigenous Christian missions in Asia.