By Kate Kile, Director of Finance and Stewardship
The mission of the St. John’s Stewardship Committee is to help God’s people grow in their relationship with God and neighbor through the careful use of time, talents, and finances God has entrusted to them.
According to Rev. Charles Lane, there are six characteristics, or values, that define ‘biblical giving’ that are worthy of our further consideration:
First up, is intentionality. Approaching our giving with intentionality means that we are deliberative and purposeful; we make up our mind, develop a plan, and act accordingly. Pledging is a great way to make this commitment and then live it out. When the time comes for considering a pledge for 2021, instead of asking yourself “What does St. John’s need me to give?” a better question might be “How am I called to respond to God’s presence in my life?”
The next value goes hand in hand with intentionality, and is, regularity. Paul prescribes a regular pattern for giving each week to the early Christians. We understand that times have changed, and while many workers in biblical times received income daily, our current systems of compensation are much different with some paid weekly, semi-monthly or even monthly. To be intentional means you develop a plan for giving and to be regular means you follow that plan, according to your own specific way of receiving income.
The third characteristic of a biblical giver is generosity. This may seem the most basic or obvious value, but Jesus’ words in Luke 12:34 challenge us. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Where do we actually place our treasure? As we grow in faith, truly trusting in God and following His example of unbridled generosity, our hearts draw closer and closer to Jesus.
While first-fruits giving is easy to understand, it is harder to put into practice. It means giving to God first and foremost and living off the rest, instead of paying all our bills first, and only then giving what is leftover. If we are to truly give generously, we must examine our priorities and perhaps re-order the sequencing of our monthly financial commitments.
Moving along on our journey to generosity, we consider proportional giving. The language we see repeatedly in the bible encourages us to “give in proportion to the blessings we have received.” Think of the widow and her two small copper coins, out of her poverty, she gave all she had. With the abundance we have received, how are we giving?
Our final characteristic is my favorite….cheerful giving! II Corinthians 9:7 reads “Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Maybe you aren’t there yet and don’t feel especially cheerful about giving. If so, you aren’t alone; maybe instead of cheerful, you feel guilty, resentful or apathetic.
The good thing about Journey to Generosity is that it is not just an annual stewardship campaign, but rather a lifetime habit to develop and nurture. We love and serve a faithful, patient and forgiving God. May we all encourage one another along the way. I will be walking alongside you.