Giving money for the work of the Lord is a unusual way of investing in eternity. It makes sense that things like prayer, encouragement, service at church, and the ‘one anothers’ are some of the practical ways of creating treasure in heaven. Giving money is different. It is a very earthly, almost non-spiritual thing, that somehow still has eternal investment potential. Not only is this the point of the parable of the shrewd slave (Luke 16:1-13 and associated sermon) , but the instructions and examples to the church in the NT also speak of giving money as a Kingdom deed.
As Christians we must give our money for the work in God’s Kingdom, but we must do so decisively. We need to decide very clearly what needs to give money towards, what amount to give, and what kind of stewards or organisations to entrust our giving to. These are matters clearly stated in the Scriptures.
First, give for the right need. The obvious recurring need that every Christian should decide to give towards on a regular basis is the support of their elders, especially the ones who teach. Smaller churches might barely be able to pay the salary of one person, but that should then be the teaching-elder (1 Cor 9:13-14). At times, there are also once-off needs that should be on the top of the list of things Christians ought to give their money towards. It might be the practical needs of Christians within your own church (Acts 4:34-35), or even the needs of a congregation elsewhere that is in dire financial circumstances (1 Cor 16:1-3). These three areas of needs are often referred to by churches as pastors’ salary, deacons’ fund, and missions’ fund respectively. Decide to be a intentional giver of money to these needs.
Secondly, give the right amount. Unlike the tithing tradition, Christian giving is most uniquely describes as a freewill offering. Leviticus made provision for sacrifices that the believers wanted to give as a voluntary additional act of worship. Deuteronomy 16:16 required of the men going up for the Feasts never to go empty-handed, but to bring an offering as he is able, according to the blessing that God has blessed him with. In 2 Corinthians 8:3 the example of the believers is to give of their own accord. The most clear and straightforward command regarding the right amount to give comes in 2 Corinthians 9:7 which requires giving as he has decided in his heart. The right amount to give is not a specific percentage or Rand value. Instead, believers are to take stock of what the Lord has blessed them with, and give in proportion to that. Those who are destitute might receive from the Church instead of give, while those who are blessed with steady income or extraordinary blessing might give a tithe or much higher. The point is to decide. Count your blessings; then count your giving.
Third, give the right way. Two of the mistakes of popular giving need to be mentioned here. First, give to the right stewards. Give to those of excellent spiritual reputation, who themselves are active givers for the work in God’s Kingdom. Giving earthly money is a spiritual act of worship when given to the exemplary leaders of the church—those who are even wiser than you in how to spend it, those who are even more zealous than you in being accountable with God’s money, and those who sense the spiritual value of the various ways it should be distributed (2 Cor 8:16-24). Second, give regularly and give consistently. A little tip in 1 Corinthians 16:2 reminds us of the practical wisdom of giving consistently. The wisdom of consistent giving is obvious. Consistent giving keeps the giver from the temptation to manipulate the stewards by his giving. Consistent giving removes time-wasting additional tasks of the stewards otherwise needing to raising funds, send reminders, and wait for payments to arrive. You speed up the work of the Lord when you give consistently and even predictably.
It is through more decisive giving, that each Christian adds his/her shoulder to the work of ministry in God’s Kingdom that goes far beyond the reach of each individual giver.