There are three very relevant questions to ask yourself as you plan to give:
1. When should I give?
2. Where should I give?
3. How much should I give?
As a result of reviewing guidelines and principles in Scripture, I believe there are six words that answer the questions of when to give, where to give, and how much to give:
Preemptive giving is clearly defined in Proverbs 3:9: “Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the first fruits of all your increase.” To me, this means that giving to God’s work should have the first priority over all other uses of money, and therefore I give, preempting all other uses, until I have met that commitment.
“On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come” (1 Corinthians 16:2 NKJV). Not only should I give preemptively, but I should also give periodically and regularly. To take this Scripture literally would be to say that, on each Sunday of the week, some amount should be put aside and saved for giving purposes. So the “when” question is answered—giving should be the first priority use of our income, and this giving should be done as income or increase is received, that is, on a periodic and regular basis.
When answering the question, where should I give? we should make a purposeful decision to give where Scripture says God’s interest is. “For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God” (2 Corinthians 9:12 NKJV).
God definitely commands us to meet the needs of the saints and to fulfill the Great Commission. Thus, our purposes in giving are to give for the needy, for evangelism, and for discipleship in our Judea, our Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth (Acts 1:8). Giving must be taken very seriously and decided upon consciously in order to fulfill the commands of Scripture.
To help answer the question, where should I give? we can build a matrix. Down one side are the biblical admonitions to give to evangelism, discipleship, the poor, the widows, the orphans, and the needy. Across the top of the chart are the locations—Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth—or in our contemporary situations, my city, my state, my country, and the rest of the world.
As you review chart 14-A, write in the giving that you are now doing. You will be able to see how well you are fulfilling the biblical admonitions in terms of places and needs. Giving to your local church should be the best place to give to meet the needs of the saints and for evangelism of the lost—assuming your church follows biblical teaching. In other words, you may meet all these needs by giving to your local church. You may also wish to give to other ministries or organizations that address these admonitions. You then need to ask the question, am I giving all that I should be giving?
How much to give in quantitative terms is not as important as our attitude toward giving. In 2 Corinthians 9:7 (NKJV), we read that our giving should be done “not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” In 2 Corinthians 8:9, Paul gave us the example of Christ to suggest the right attitude toward giving: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (NKJV). So, the attitude of giving must be one of cheerfulness and grace. Freely we have received; freely we must give.
The question, how much should I give? is not a simple matter. “For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us” (2 Corinthians 8:3–5).
Therefore, we are not limited in how much we give either by what we can see or according to our abilities, but what God instructs us each to do. That will vary for each Christian family. Through consideration of the three Ps we have mentioned, we can come to a right answer of how much: We should give proportionately on a planned basis and on a precommitted basis. Give an amount that is proportionate to the amount that God has prospered you—as a result, those who make more should be giving more and not just as a number but as a percentage of income. You should, by planning, give more than a proportionate amount, and you should commit in advance to give some of the amount God provides on a totally unexpected basis; for example, a bonus, an inheritance, or a gift. Make your decisions before you receive the money and stick to your convictions.
by Ron Blue with Michael Blue
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