As a part of our Elders Corner series, Elder Wilfred Graves Jr. explains what it means to be a Christian servant and how through stewardship, God allows us to be a partner in moving forward His mission on earth.
West Angeles Church has moved into a season in which God is challenging each of us to move to a greater level of commitment. The theme for 2015 is:
“Christ’s extreme sacrifice calls for our extreme commitment” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).
The Lord desires for us to commit every area of our lives to Him. This commitment includes our time, talents, finances, and other resources. All of these are gifts from God, and He wants us to use what He has given us for His glory and purposes.
The faithful and responsible use of God’s gifts is called Christian stewardship. In the Bible, a steward is one who is entrusted with the possessions of another. In the Gospels, a steward is a servant who is to manage the affairs of the master. The steward does not own the possessions; he/she is responsible for handling them in a wise manner. Christians are stewards over what God has given us. God owns everything (Psalm 24:1) and He entrusts us to handle His possessions with the utmost care (Genesis 1:26).
Partnering with God
The fact that God has entrusted us to manage His resources means that He has allowed us to become partners with Him. A financial offering, for example, is not only a gift to God’s work, but it also is participation with God in the establishment of His divine rule on earth. God can use our financial offerings as seeds that will yield a rich harvest of blessings and changed lives.
The Love of Money
It is easy to make an idol out of money. In fact, the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:9-10). God does not mind His people having money. However, He wants us to surrender all aspects of our lives, including our finances, to His control. The surrender of our finances to Jesus Christ is one aspect of our surrender to His Lordship over our lives.
Tithes and Offerings
The tithe is ten percent of the increase of material blessings – monetary or other – that God has enabled a person to receive. The tithing principle is a useful minimum standard of “proportionate giving.” Several Old Testament examples of tithing include: Genesis 28:22; Leviticus 27:30; Deuteronomy 14:22; and Malachi 3:8-10.
The New Testament continues the tithing principle. Jesus mentions tithing in Matthew 23:23 and tithing supports the ministries of local fellowships in 1 Corinthians 9:11-12 and Galatians 6:6-7. The New Testament also elaborates on the tithing principle by offering a number of insights on giving.
Giving is a voluntary action that is “unto the Lord.” Besides giving a tithe, a person can give a regular offering or a special offering. We should always find ways to give as much as we can to the Lord’s work. The basic motivation for giving is our relationship with God. We belong to God and we should seek to please Him in all that we do. God loves us and has given so much to us. Therefore, we give out of our love for and gratitude toward God. Giving is an act of worship. It is a positive response to God’s liberality and generosity, and it supports the work of ministry.
New Testament Principles of Giving
Jesus Christ taught important principles of giving, including the fact that God rewards unselfish giving (Luke 6:38), giving should be sacrificial and motivated by a sense of commitment (Mark 12:41-44), and “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
Chapters 8 and 9 of 2 Corinthians also contain many wonderful principles of giving. According to these chapters, Christian giving:
1. Is an expression of God’s grace (8:1-6)
2. Can be a spiritual gift (8:7)
3. Is inspired by the sacrifice of Christ (8:8-9)
4. Should be proportionate to our wealth (8:10-12)
5. Should be done with accountability (8:16-24)
6. Can be stimulated by friendly competition (9:1-5)
7. Promotes thanksgiving to God (9:11b-15)
Giving is an important aspect of our worship, stewardship, and commitment to God. God does not expect us to give what we do not have. He expects us to give what we do have with willingness, joy, and enthusiasm. As we continue to give, God will keep supplying resources to meet our personal needs and those of the local church. Is God challenging you to increase the amount of your contributions to His work? If so, then He will certainly reward your faithful obedience to Him.
Wilfred Graves Jr., Ph.D.
Dr. Wilfred Graves Jr. serves West Angeles Church as Special Assistant to the Senior Pastor and Chairman of the Board of Elders. He is the author of ‘In Pursuit of Wholeness: Experiencing God’s Salvation.’ The book is available at Amazon.com or http://www.pursuitofwholeness.com.
FOR FURTHER READING:
On Stewardship – 1 Chronicles 28:1; Matthew 24:45; 1 Corinthians 4:1-2; and Luke 16:1-13.
On Giving – 2 Corinthians 8 and 9.