In general, those of us working in City tend to earn higher salaries than elsewhere in the country and the world. Many of our colleagues and friends might make it a life goal to earn as much as possible. As Christians, how are we supposed to view money? Most of us would accept that giving to gospel ministry is a good thing, but what are our motivations and how should we work out how to give? We put these questions to a City partner and here's what he thought.
How does the gospel shape your view of giving?
When I became a Christian I accepted Jesus offer of forgiveness and came under his authority - so now He is my boss. I try to remember I am serving His plan not my own plan - I’m not running my own little project here in the city - I’m engaged with God's own massive project of saving people for Himself. That should affect how I do my job, how I speak to colleagues, what I do with my time, energy and also my money.
Why do you give to the City Partnership?
I am a partner in the work that happens here at St Helen’s and in the offices around us – I give time, energy and also money to support the training of Christians for Christian living and for reaching those around us with the message of forgiveness and life in Jesus.
The work here at St Helen’s is aligned with God’s project of saving a people for Himself through making disciples of Jesus. God’s project is the only project that will show a real and lasting return so I believe it’s a very good investment. I give money - which won’t last anyway - to support a work that helps people find the way to Jesus and so eternal life!
Its also the place where I am trained and taught myself and the Bible clearly instructs those who are taught to financially support those who teach them.
How do you work out how much to give?
My wife and I make time periodically to plan and pray - asking God for wisdom on how much to give and where to give. Giving to gospel work is a priority - and as I said I believe the bulk of regular giving should go to the church where you are taught. However, it is also biblical to contribute to the needs of our brothers and sisters. There might be people in the congregation who are struggling and certainly there are lots of Christians worldwide who suffer loss because of their faith in Jesus. There are some great charities that enable us here in the UK - who are frankly among the richest people in the world - to help those in need around the world. Supporting others in their training to become full time Bible teachers or missionaries is another great opportunity that comes our way regularly. So we need lots of wisdom to prioritise and balance all of that with the needs of our family, and we ask God to give us that wisdom.
We also thank Him for giving us so much and for enabling us to give to others. The New Testament describes giving as God’s grace to us - it says that to give is more blessed than to receive and we have really found it to be a joy to be giving to God’s work. We sometimes find it tough to make the decision to give rather than spend on ourselves – but once we have worked it through and decided to give we have never been disappointed afterwards!
When it comes to working out the figures the principle of tithing is a helpful starting point. Tithing was commanded to Israel in the Old Testament and simply meant giving 10% of your income to the temple to support the priests and the work there, as a way of acknowledging to God that everything you have is from him. I personally don’t think tithing is explicitly commanded in the New Testament but it is still a relevant, helpful and God honouring principle - so we try to keep that figure in mind as a minimum. It certainly helps to decide how much you want to give beforehand, especially when responsibilities increase and you are tempted to give less. So we tend to give 10% of our gross salary income to our teaching church (which is St Helen's - we are also involved in the Sunday congregation) and look to give to other worthy causes as opportunities and priorities allow.
Finally, we do the math - charitable giving is pre-tax which means at a higher tax rate we can give £1 or keep £0.60 - there might be reasons to hang on to the £0.60 but there is a considerable opportunity cost so it had better be good reasons!