This article was first published on the Kingsgate Website
In this article, I want to address how we approach giving here at Kingsgate as there is often a lot of confusion. So let me suggest a simple pattern that will help us focus on giving in a healthy way.
SO HOW CAN WE HAVE A HEALTHY, BIBLICAL VIEW OF GIVING TO A LOCAL CHURCH?
I generally don’t talk about giving in terms of tithing (that is the giving of 10% of your gross income). Now let me be clear, tithing is a biblical idea, and Jesus even honoured the Pharisees for their commitment to tithing their ‘mint, dill and cumin’. Essentially, the reason Jesus drew our attention to those three things was to illustrate the Pharisees’ detailed commitment to tithing, even down to the rows of mint growing in their vegetable patches! However, although on the one hand Jesus honours this commitment, he also says “woe to you”, in modern day language “buddy, you’re in a mess! Why? Because you have neglected some weightier heart matters”. In short, Jesus was showing us that you can tithe down to the last penny and yet completely miss the point, if there are wrong or missing heart motivations.
In light of this I want to try and foster four healthy heart motivations because when they collide, they will lead you and me to a grace-motivated level of giving. So here they are:
Again and again, the Bible speaks about the importance and priority for us to give out of our material wealth (especially to the local church). Sometimes it talks of money (coins), other times it uses images of tunics and food. However, the key issue is that as followers of Jesus we’ve been called to give from the treasure in our lives. In light of this, giving becomes an obedience issue. Who will be king? Will it be King Jesus or King me? Will it be king Jesus or King money? Martin Luther, the great reformer, said that every person needs three conversions: the heart, the mind and the purse. He was simply stating that what sits behind how we spend our money needs to come under the Lordship of Jesus. Friends, giving really is an obedience and discipleship issue!
In 2 Cor 9:7 the Apostle Paul says, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart [note the heart issue again], not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” This is wonderful and safeguards us from cold and dead religious duty! Give because your heart is saturated with joy. However, here is the challenge; much of that joy will be derived from being caught up in the purposes of God.
Let me briefly try and answer the question that may well be raised in your mind right now. But what if I’m not joyful about giving? I would suggest that you shouldn’t see this as a good thing! This for me reveals some serious heart issues that need addressing. I would suggest going back to those fundamental principles we’ve just looked at from Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 6. A heart that lives for eternity is grace-saturated and should affect your thinking and motivation and will place King Jesus upon the throne of your heart. That type of heart will give joyfully!
King David, in the Old Testament, said “I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing” (2 Sam 24:24b). Giving should hurt! I believe it should impinge on the things that you could do in life. On a personal note, as a family we’ve made lots of decisions where our giving towards what God is doing among us as a church, has meant massive personal cost to us as a family. This is where we loop back to the 10% issue. For some people, 10% really is not a sacrifice at all! For others it clearly is. The key question is, does this giving hurt? Is it sacrificial? Do I feel the pain of it or not?
Give to the mission that God has put us on together! We don’t have a denominational pot of money to draw on for the things we want to do. No, everything we do as a church is funded through the sacrificial giving of the people who are part of this church. So please give to the mission! Buying a laptop or replacing the carpet tiles in one of our rooms here at the King’s Centre is never going to inspire or motivate me to give (because that’s just ‘stuff’). But the mission of God among us is to see transformation in this borough and the surrounding towns and villages. Now that’s something worth giving towards! To see the narrative about Great Yarmouth disrupted by a community of hope and transformation – now I want in on that! To see people saved and added every month into this church community – I don’t want to miss out on that! To see lives and marriages and families and whole communities being changed by the power of the gospel – I want to give to that! To see us playing our part in seeing Norfolk re-evangelised through the planting of churches – I want to give to that! To see Kingsgate playing our part in the global village that we live in and seeing people coming and training with us and people going and serving in different nations – I want to be part of that! … So, give to mission!
Here’s the thing, each one of these heart motivations will tug and pull against each other. They will feel like they can’t possibly all be held together. However, when you find the glorious, grace-filled overlap where obedience, joy, sacrifice and mission collide, that’s a healthy biblically motivated place to give from!