Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Opening Your Spiritual Gifts (Day 18)

Giving is the spiritual gift of those Christians who are empowered by God to give more than 10% of their annual income to the mission of Christ in the world.

All Christians are called to give financially to Christ’s mission. The minimal baseline expectation, according to the Bible, is that all believers will give the first 10% of their income to this cause. It’s what the Bible calls a tithe.

Jesus says that giving to His mission is an investment in His Kingdom and a measure of our faithful dependence on Him. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal,” Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:19-21, “but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Giving isn’t a means of earning God’s approval. God’s approval is a free gift for all who believe in Jesus. But giving does demonstrate our gratitude for the forgiveness and new life that come to us through Jesus Christ.

Giving to Christ’s mission also brings blessings. In Luke 6:38, Jesus says, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”

This doesn’t mean that you’ll be a millionaire if you tithe. God never promises to make us wealthy. It does mean that givers are blessed, always because of the sense of being in sync with God and His plans for our lives and sometimes in other ways we can’t imagine.

If all Christians tithed, it would be far easier for the Church to do its mission. We have nearly 60 households in Friendship. I recently calculated what would happen if only forty of our households gave their entire annual tithe to Friendship, assuming an average household income of $50,000. The result would be giving of $200,000, which would enable us to pay off our mortgage more quickly, undertake new ministries, and meet our current annual operating budget of about $130,000.

God gifts some people to go beyond the 10% minimum in their giving. Often, these are people to whom God has also given a special ability to create wealth, though not always. Usually, they do have a particular acumen for managing their personal finances. One of these is Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy, who even before he attained success, decided to be a more-than-tither in his giving and also that his restaurant should be closed on Sundays. In fact, these very decisions probably contributed to his success.

Not everyone can be a Truett Cathy. But if you believe that God has given you the spiritual gift of giving, you can contribute mightily to the mission of Christ, whatever your income.

Giving isn’t easy for me. It’s about as far from being one of my spiritual gifts as I can imagine. But I certainly revere those who have it and exercise it.

Giving is the spiritual gift of those Christians who are empowered by God to give more than 10% of their annual income to the mission of Christ in the world.

Bible Passage to Ponder: “Give, and it will be given to you...” (Luke 6:38)

No comments: