A few weeks back we had our annual giving review, at which plans for updating our buildings in order to cope with the demands of the growing ministry at St Helen's were laid out. If you've not seen the plans yet, there are still brochures available in St Helen's that go into detail about the proposed work.
Giving is a topic that people often get about touchy about; is it really right to publicly encourage people to give once a year? Isn't that a bit rude and pushy? I think there are a number of reasons why it is right that we are encouraged to think seriously about our giving each year—Paul, after all, in 2 Corinthians, is unashamed in asking them to give towards gospel work.
In this blog entry we're thinking about why giving is an important thing for us to do as Christians, and then next week we'll be thinking about what the Bible has to say about how we decide how much we should give.
Why is giving such an important thing to be concerned about?
1. Giving is a good indication of where our heart is the question 'how do we view our money?' starts with the question 'How do we see our lives?'. If we are Christian people, then we recognise that:
- Our lives are not our own, for they were bought with a price (1 Cor 7:19-20)
- We have repented of living as if we were king of our own lives, and see now that the purpose of our lives is to bring glory to God, and therefore every decision we make begins not with 'what do I want to do?' but 'what most glorifies God?' (Col 3:17, 23, 1 Cor 7:35)
- God's plan for the universe is to redeem a people for himself that we might understand and enjoy his glorious character, displayed most clearly in his sacrificial death at the cross (Col 1:13-23)
- The gospel message is urgent, and that God is delaying his judgement in order that more people may come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9)
- Jesus therefore commands us to 'make disciples of all nations' (Matt 28:19-20)
If we understand these things, then we know that the only question to ask of all of our money is 'how best do I use it for the glory of God?' - and if our priority in God's plan should be disciple-making (which is to say both the conversion and growth of believers), then it follows that we should be using our time and our money to that end.
2. Money is a limitation to disciple-making
It's fair to say that, humanly speaking, with a constantly growing and expanding ministry, the limit of the amount of gospel work that can be done at St Helen's is financial - more full-time staff and more space to meet requires more money. However, it's fair to say too that it's not just the ministry here that is in view - many of our mission partners depend on financial support from St Helen's. More money would mean an ability to support more gospel work abroad in desperately needy countries.
3. The labourer deserves his wages
To be benefitting from a ministry and not giving towards it is something which the New Testament strongly rebukes as unloving towards those who are in paid Christian work (Luke 10:7, 1 Cor 9:3-15, 1 Tim 5:17-18).