October 29 is Stewardship Sunday. This important occasion is an opportunity for everyone who cares about this Church to provide a measure of support for the coming year. Let me offer you these few simple points to help guide your decision-making:
1. Supporting your Church is not giving to a charity. The Church is the family of God, and we are bound to one another in a covenant of belonging, as in every family system.
2. Giving to your Church is based on guidelines in scripture. The Lord asks for the first fruits of the harvest, not our left-over pocket change. Hear the prophet Malachi about offerings to the Temple of God in Jerusalem:
“When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not wrong? And when you offer those that are lame and sick, is that not wrong? Try presenting that to your governor. Will he be pleased, or show you favor?” says the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 1:9)
Applying this principle suggests that we should each use a separate set-aside bank account so that what we give is first fruits off the top and not a last ditch effort after we pay for everything else.
3. The other basic biblical guideline is the tithe. If you have never given a tithe, you cannot jump to that level in one great leap. An infant crawls before learning to walk, and does not run a marathon right out of the womb. Start with a half-title or a quarter-tithe and move up in future years. Deliberate planning is the key. You will discover that there is a joy in giving that exceeds the pleasure of receiving.
Whatever else you do, pray about it - carefully - before anything else. The Lord will bless you for it.
- Pastor Duke