By Jo Vickery
In describing what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Bible has much to say in relation how resources are to be handled. Here are some principles of Christian Stewardship. Disciples of Jesus are those who put these principles into practice:
Priority – Giving is to be top of our agendas as we consider how we use our God given resources. The Bible emphasises giving in terms of ‘first fruits’ i.e. we offer to God the first and best of all we have been given (Deuteronomy 26: 10)
Prayerful – recognising that our giving is an act of worship/thanksgiving. ‘Each person should give what they have decided in their hearts to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion……’ (2 Corinthians 9: 7)
Personal – We don’t give to be recognised or appreciated – it’s a personal thing between us and God. (Matthew 6:1-4).
Proportionate/Planned – Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 16:2 – ‘On the first day of week each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping you’re your income.’ It is an act that is prayerfully planned taking into account the Biblical principle of giving a tithe (10%) of one’s income as a good starting point. So the question is not, how much can I afford to give? But rather I prayerfully decide what percentage of my total income is it right to set aside, then put that decision into action.
Painful (sacrificial). Our giving should be sacrificial, following Christ’s example. We give in response to God’s self-giving nature.
Paul, describing the giving of Macedonian believers writes: ‘Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity, for I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.’ (2 Corinthians 8: 2)
Pleasurable – God loves a cheerful (literally ‘hilarious’) giver (2 Corinthians 9:7)
There is a freedom of Spirit in sharing in God’s grace. We give with open hands out of gratitude to our open handed God: for ‘all things come from you and of your own do we give you.’ (1 Chronicles 29: 14)
Purposeful – When we give we are playing our part in God’s purposes for his world – we are praying ‘Your Kingdom come’ and doing something specific towards seeing that happen. Our giving is our way of investing in the things of God – the things that last!
Jesus said, ‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust 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, 20)