As Pastor Jeremy has discussed in his recent sermon and blog post, making plans and having goals in the new year can be an extremely productive exercise in helping us live gospel-centered lives. With that stage set, we wanted to provide you with some deeper context and scripture that describes how financial stewardship is defined in the Bible, how we view it at Redemption, and hopefully provide you with some healthy motivation as you enter 2017.
This time of the year, many of us will inevitably reflect on 2016 and take a renewed focus on how our personal finances are going to be allocated in 2017. Whether this is making resolutions to save, give, spend, invest, etc., or simply looking to set budgets and plans for the upcoming year, reflecting on this important area of our lives often times raises many questions and can even be stress-inducing.
Before we dive in, it is important to note that our treasure (money) is only one of the resources that we have to give to the Church. Our time and talents are equally important, and I would encourage you to consider how you are going to allocate them along with your finances.
Okay, so where do we start? In many cases, the first questions are about tithing — as a believer, am I required? Is it 10%? Is that net? Or is that gross? Are we an Old Testament or New Testament church? What about my tax return, gifts, or money I find in the couch? What if I NEED those new (insert something cool)?
All of these are great questions, except maybe the couch one, but let’s take a step back and start by defining what financial stewardship is. A steward is defined as “a person who manages another's property or financial affairs; one who administers anything as the agent of another.”
At Redemption, we believe that everything we have is a gift from and owned by God. We are simply called to be stewards of God’s gifts (1 Peter 4:10) and should frame our decisions, goals, and plans accordingly.
What does the Bible say about giving?
So, back to the questions about tithing — how does God direct us to steward his resources? Giving is referenced many times throughout the Old and New Testament in many diverse and varied ways, but as a Church we focus on Paul’s writing in 2 Corinthians and believe that:
- Being generous is a response to the generosity that Christ displayed for us on the Cross. (8:9)
- Giving is a significant part of being a follower of Christ. (9:6)
- Giving is less of an obligation, but more of a joyful form of worship. (9:7)
How do we apply biblical principles to modern day?
In practice, this will look different for everybody. Not all situations and circumstances are the same, and just like we all worship in different ways, not all giving will look the same. However, there are some key principles that we think are useful to help guide you. Our desire and goal is that members would give:
- Joyfully: We want giving to be a form of worship, done because we love Jesus, not because we feel obligated. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
- Sacrificially: The Gospel calls us to sacrifice for God, but all too often in a fallen world we are quick to justify all the reasons not to. Giving shouldn’t be comfortable, and we should feel it, but remember we are simply giving what is already His.
- Generously: We want you to give generously, as God gave and still gives generously to us. 2 Corinthians 9:6 says “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”
- Regularly: 1 Corinthians 16:2 says “On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.”
There are a couple of other questions that frequently come up.
Is being a good financial steward only about giving? Great question — no! Being a good financial steward isn’t giving away everything you have, but being responsible and having a healthy tension between giving and saving/using the gifts God has given you. You can (and should) plan on saving for education, retirement, and rainy days, enjoying God’s gifts, and providing for your family. We just want everything to point to God, not ourselves.
What does Redemption do with the money that I give? Glad you asked! As a Church, Redemption is incredibly thankful for all of the treasure you have given and we take our job as steward of those resources seriously. Redemption gives a minimum of 10% (being a non-profit makes the gross vs. net debate easy for us — sweet!) of all giving to other Church Planting efforts around the world. The remainder goes to run our Church, to resources and supplies for our various ministries, community transformation efforts, etc.
In summary, we don’t want you to get caught up on a number, but focus on God’s gift to us and how we can use giving to the Church as a joyful and meaningful form of worship.
If you want to get healthy with your finances — pay off debt, save more, give more, create a budget, or need help on anything else — we have the resources to support you. Email us at email@example.com and we will be happy to connect with you.