I had breakfast yesterday with a friend. He is a friend that challenges me to be a better Christian. Thank God for people like that in our lives who encourage us when we need it, and who can bring correction to our lives when we need it. This friend often challenges me in the area of finances. He believes the commands and the promises of God’s word. He works hard, knowing that God said through the apostle Paul, ‘If you don’t work, you don’t eat.” He gives generously to those in need, knowing God’s word challenges us to care for the poor, the orphans, and the widows. He believes in saving and budgeting. And he believes that all good gifts ultimately come from God and completely belong to Him.
So today I am thinking about God’s principles related to giving. In the Old Testament, God commanded His people to give a tithe. We are taught that everything belongs to God, and by setting aside the first 10% for Him, we are reminded it is all His, and that He was the one who provided for us. In the New Testament the focus is on grace giving. The tithe is assumed as the starting point and we are encouraged to give graciously, knowing that Jesus said, “Give and it will be given to you. . .”
My friend shared yesterday of helping someone re-evaluate their budget. The person had told them, ‘I cannot seem to manage on my income.’ He gave a recommended budget that started with 11% giving to God, included gifts for the poor through some hunger ministry or gospel rescue, paying all the bills, putting money in savings, and having some disposable income, with some left over. The person was surprised, and said, “I just don’t know where my money goes.” To which my friend replied, “Do you keep receipts?” They said, “No.” Keep your receipts and you will know. It is simple math.
I want to challenge you to be a good manager of the resources God has entrusted to you. Personally, I think you should work hard. If you don’t have a job, your job is finding a job. Spend the 8 hours a day you would have worked looking for work. Pay your bills, and include a savings account in that. If you don’t feel you can afford to give back to God, perhaps you should simplify your life. Drive a less expensive car. Get rid of cable and unnecessary expenses. I believe you should give at least 10% of your income through the church you are a part of. Beyond that, give generously to support ministries that you know are honoring God and advancing His kingdom.