Editor’s Note: Read our other articles in Sow Bountifully: Biblical Principles for a Life of Christ-Centered Giving below!
Sow Bountifully – A New Series on Giving
Live all Your Life in Light of God’s Mercy
Remember Your Provider
Give of Your Firstfruits
Should I Give to the Poor Man on the Street?
In the previous articles in this series, we have learned that Scripture calls us to give out of our first fruits, to give cheerfully, and to give wisely. In this article, we want to consider Scripture’s instruction for us to give faithfully.
What do I mean when I say, “give faithfully?” I simply mean that the Bible calls Christians to give regularly. In other words, we must build into our lives the discipline of giving and give in a way that others can count on. Timothy was to instruct the wealthy Christians in his congregation to be “rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share” (1 Tim 6:18). Titus was to teach his people to be devoted to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need” (Titus 3:14). Paul says in Romans 12:13 to “Contribute to the needs of the saints.”
The verb “contribute” is in the present active tense which indicates that our giving is something we should be regularly doing. The biblical commands to give of our firstfruits (Prov 3:9) or to give as God prospers (1 Cor 16:2) also imply regularity in our giving because we are to give out of our income which is, for most people, delivered on a reliable schedule. This regularity will not be the same for every Christian. Some people get paid weekly, twice-a-month, monthly, or even project-by-project. Nevertheless, the call is to give as the Lord prospers us, not by sheer whim or according to some arbitrary schedule that we’ve established.
But it might be helpful at this point to ask ourselves this question: What are the benefits of regular giving? We’ve already noted in this series Jesus’ words that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Here I will offer one benefit that speaks of the blessing we receive and one benefit that speaks to the way we bless others with regular giving.
Regular Giving Helps Curb Our Greed
First, regular giving helps to curb our greed. As our income increases, we may be tempted to keep more and more for ourselves. Now, Scripture certainly supports the practice of saving. We need a surplus, for example, to plan for the future (Prov 21:5) and to give to those in need (Eph 4:29). But the Bible also warns us against unnecessary, self-centered hoarding (e.g., Luke 12:13-21). If we give as we prosper, we will help battle the tendency to stockpile our riches and keep too much for ourselves. Regular giving helps loosen the stranglehold that greed can have on us and helps us fight the encroachment of those word-stifling thorns that Jesus warns us about in the parable of the soils (see Mark 4:19). Consistent giving helps uproot greed which is a stubborn hindrance to fruitfulness.
Regular giving, therefore, is a pathway to joy and a guard against the love of money. Paul warns Christians against this pernicious infatuation with money in 1 Timothy 6:1-10. He exhorts us to be content with what we have (1 Tim 6:6) and to not be overcome with the desire to be rich (6:9-10). The apostle follows these instructions by encouraging those who are wealthy in this life to be humble, generous, always ready to share, and rich in good works (6:17-18). We see in this context, therefore, a connection between a warning against the love of money and a call to be generous with one’s wealth. Regular giving helps us actively battle against a love of money.
Regular Giving Blesses the Institution to Which You Are Giving
Second, regular giving blesses the institution to which you are giving by enabling them to pay their bills and plan for future ministry. Non-profit organizations, like your local church, are dependent upon the voluntary giving of its members. It is helpful for these institutions to be able to plan their ministries according to a regular pattern of income. A high level of volatility in giving—with major valleys and major peaks—make it difficult to plan for ministry expenditures.
Think for a moment of your own income and expenses. If your employer didn’t compensate you on a regular basis but only when he felt like it or when he remembered to cut you a check, planning your life with any consistency would be difficult, to say the least. Not only would you be in a constant state of anxiety about your ability to meet your current liabilities (utility bills, groceries, house-payments, car-payments), you couldn’t make any short- or long-term plans because there would be no consistency of income with which to make those plans.
Why do we think that our churches are any different? An erratic income stream hinders ministry planning because church leaders can have no confidence that the funds will be available when they need them. Regular giving from the church membership allows church leaders to pay the bills and plan for future ministry.
Again, to repeat what I’ve said in a previous article, I am not suggesting that Scripture commands you to give a certain amount or percentage. You must decide in your own heart how much to give (see 2 Cor 9:7). But I am arguing that Scripture calls us to give regularly, faithfully, and reliably. This practice will bless us and the institutions to which we give.