We want easy answers to tough questions, right? There must be a formula or a Top Ten list that makes tough decisions easy. After all, we see it happen day after day on the TV and movie screens.
We live in an economy that’s filled with uncertainty, even fear for many. Talking about generosity seems foolish at times. As we at Crossroads wrestle with generosity and our “Because People Matter” project, one of the frequently asked questions is “How do I know how much to give?” Your answer will differ from others. Here are guiding questions to help you in the asking and searching process.
How well do I understand the vision and the impact our “Because People Matter” project will have on our congregation and community?
Will my giving level change me for the better? Will I be the same after my giving or will I experience God in some new way through this giving level?
How is prayer impacting my decision?
How much time am I investing in a process toward a decision? How is my search including God?
How have I been involving my spouse (if married), my children (if children live in the home) and those with wise counsel close to me?
What emotions does this decision bring to my life?
What level of sacrifice does my gift represent? Am I giving up anything of value to invest in the “Because People Matter” project?
Use these scriptures and questions to help build a Biblical understanding for “Because People Matter.”
What do you picture when you hear the term “steward” or “manager?”
This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. 1 Corinthians 4:1
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10
“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’ His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’ His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’” Matthew 25:14-30
What definitions do these scripture passages offer?
What is the motivation of an investor for God?
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Luke 12:32-34
Describe the safety and security of resources invested in God’s work.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
What action plans does God challenge us to implement when we might be fearful about our security?
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will He not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:25-33
What does godliness with contentment produce in our lives?
But godliness with contentment is great gain. 1 Timothy 6:6
What do these verses tell about sacrificial giving?
But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the LORD what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.” 1 Chronicles 21:24
Then King David said to the whole assembly: “My son Solomon, the one whom God has chosen, is young and inexperienced. The task is great, because this palatial structure is not for man but for the LORD God. With all my resources I have provided for the temple of my God—gold for the gold work, silver for the silver, bronze for the bronze, iron for the iron and wood for the wood, as well as onyx for the settings, turquoise, stones of various colors, and all kinds of fine stone and marble—all of these in large quantities. Besides, in my devotion to the temple of my God I now give my personal treasures of gold and silver for the temple of my God, over and above everything I have provided for this holy temple.”1 Chronicles 29:1-3
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.”Romans 12:1-2
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”1 Timothy 6:17-19
How do we experience God when we exercise sacrificial giving?
“But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from You, and we have given You only what comes from Your hand. We are foreigners and strangers in Your sight, as were all our ancestors. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope. LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building You a temple for Your Holy Name comes from Your hand, and all of it belongs to You. I know, my God, that You test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly Your people who are here have given to You. LORD, the God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Israel, keep these desires and thoughts in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to You. And give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep Your commands, statutes and decrees and to do everything to build the palatial structure for which I have provided.” Then David said to the whole assembly, “Praise the LORD your God.” So they all praised the LORD, the God of their fathers; they bowed down, prostrating themselves before the LORD and the king. The next day they made sacrifices to the LORD and presented burnt offerings to Him: a thousand bulls, a thousand rams and a thousand male lambs, together with their drink offerings, and other sacrifices in abundance for all Israel. They ate and drank with great joy in the presence of the LORD that day. Then they acknowledged Solomon son of David as king a second time, anointing him before the LORD to be ruler and Zadok to be priest. 1 Chronicles 29:14-22
“But I did not believe what they said until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half the greatness of your wisdom was told me; you have far exceeded the report I heard. How happy your people must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! Praise be to the LORD your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on His throne as king to rule for the LORD your God. Because of the love of your God for Israel and His desire to uphold them forever, He has made you king over them, to maintain justice and righteousness.”Chronicles 9:6-8
What are we commanded to do?
What motivation are we pointed to?
Income/Cash Flow: Are there ways I can adjust by adding income, reducing expenses or both?
Time Investments: Can I use my time to create value and increase income? If I bill services, can I open up more time over the next three years to add income?
Talent Investments: Do I have any talents that can provide marketable services?
Assets: Do I have marketable assets like stocks, bonds, collectables or real estate that I could give?
Income Producing Assets: Do I have rental property or interest bearing investments generating income that I could give?
Sacrifice: Is there something of value I can invest in something of greater value? Are there major purchases that I could delay or do without?