'Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.' Philippians 4:17 (ESV)
This week, we have had a chance to think together about whether we, as Christians in the City, are being wise stewards of the resources that God has graciously given to us. Catch up here if you missed the talk.
Praise God that many of us see the real need here in the City for the gospel to go out to our colleagues. We are actively engaged in praying for our colleagues, sharing the gospel, inviting to lunchtime talks and reading one to one with non-Christians. But, many of us would also confess that we have never really thought about supporting the ministry happening here in the Square Mile financially.
Why should we? Is it not enough to be giving to my home church? Is St. Helen's not already really well provided for?
Here are five principles to guide us as we pray about and review our support of gospel ministry in the City through giving financially.
1. The engine of giving is grace
We need to be clear before we give that our giving is in response to the grace that God has lavished us. We cannot pay our way to heaven nor does salvation have anything to do with how much we earn. Our entrance has been secured by the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
There are many good causes that we can give our money to, but the reality is that only Christians will give to gospel ministry. Our giving should be gospel-centred as we support ministries that deal with peoples' biggest need - their need for salvation. As we give to ministry here in the City, we are enabling more people, including our friends and colleagues, to be reached with the gospel.
2. The focus of giving is Christian
The world tells us that we deserve everything that we get, that we get what we've earned. The Bible tells us that everything we earn and everything that we have comes from God and belongs to Him. So as we come to think about giving, the real issue is not 'How much should I give to God from my earnings?' but rather 'How am I looking after what God has given to me?' and 'Am I using what He's given to serve His purposes?'
3. The issue of giving is stewardship
In the City, we are experts at spotting good investment opportunities but have we realised that giving to gospel ministry is the safest and most rewarding of all investments that we can make?There is no risk of this investment depreciating or of a credit crunch in heaven. By being generous with what God has given us, we are storing up treasures in heaven!
4. The benefits of giving are 'out of this world'
All of us will be facing different financial circumstances. Whilst giving financially is a wonderful gift of service that a Christian can be involved in, it is worth remembering that this is not the only way to give. All Christians can be involved in giving of our time and energy to partner in God's work.
5. The gift of giving is for all
'Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.' 2 Corinthians 9:7-8 (ESV)