GENEROSITY AND GIVING AT NORTH CHURCH - PART 1

Friends,

Giving and generosity are not topics I enjoy speaking on or writing about, but, over the last few years of ministry, I have become more convicted and convinced they’re subjects I need to engage with to my congregation to be a faithful pastor.

Pastoring in the realm of giving has sadly been so abused in the church that it becomes a topic many pastors, including myself, have given way to fear in. Fear of being typecast, fear of offending, and fear of being un-pastoral to some people’s very specific and difficult financial situations. But fear shouldn’t dictate how any Christian lives. Conviction about what faithfulness to Jesus looks like should.

So, it is in this spirit, I open the topics of giving and generosity with you. Over the next two weeks, we’ll consider four different truths about generosity and how they tie in with giving to the local church. I pray you will reflect on your own relationship with giving as we do.
 
Generosity begins in the heart
 You can’t buy God’s approval. It might sound obvious, but the idea exists in many of our hearts. We struggle against believing that if we give and are generous, we can purchase God’s favor or tangible blessing for ourselves. We know this is wrong because of the abundance of our God -- he is the one who states, “every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills.” (Psalm 50:10). Everything is his, always has been and always will be. Even your money, assets, and investments are God’s before they are yours. You can’t bargain with God using something that is his to begin with as leverage.

Though everything is God’s, he is generous. As recipients of his generosity, we are free to be generous in response. How? When we treasure the Gospel of Jesus Christ , we treasure the truth of God’s generosity to us. A simple fruit of this treasuring is trusting God for our provision. This is what frees us to generosity.

Generosity begins in our hearts because this is where God takes up residence, and our new life in Christ flows from here. Receiving as great a gift as we have, we must now be a generous people in response.
 
Generosity is not about the money
Too often we get wrapped up in the numbers when it comes to giving. Now, there are stewardship responsibilities we’ve been given, but we should also look at the percentage we give as a good biblical principal. Ten percent of your income is the biblical and traditional expectation, but the precise percentage is not the main point. Giving is about revealing where our trust is. When we give in line with what is laid out in Scripture, our giving reflects who we trust for our provision. Do we trust in our own abilities, or do we trust the Lord’s provision through them? When we trust the Lord’s ability to provide through any and all means he chooses, we become free to be generous.

I once knew a family that did not have much available income. When the church was doing a building project, we asked for extra contributions to cover the expenses. I came across their pledge* to the building project -- it was $20 a month and it brought me to tears. This family gave more to that project than anyone else (Mark 12:43-44). Not because the numbers said so, but because their hearts showed that they treasured the gospel.
 
Generosity is a sign of maturity
No one begins their walk with Jesus reflecting the aspects of his character perfectly, and we never will while we still fight sin in our lives. But there is a simple Christian reality that affects our conduct and character and it is called, Progressive Sanctification.

Being progressively sanctified means that as we mature in Jesus, we become more like him. As John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church said, “The last thing to get saved is our wallet.” Sadly, this is the case. We might trust Jesus with much in our life: our reputations, stories, and temptations, but the last bastion of self-sufficiency generally has routing and account numbers attached to it.

I once knew a man I was considering for leadership at church. On the surface, he seemed like a mature believer with a vibrant walk with Jesus, but every time the subject of money would be spoken on, I would receive angry phone calls, e-mails, and texts. It was clear to me, and others, this brother was not suitable for leadership because he did not trust Jesus for his provision and, as such, lacked generosity.

On the other hand, I have seen many believers who, as they grow in treasuring the Gospel of Jesus Christ, become more and more generous and deliberate in their giving. Moving from an occasional few dollars in the offering tray here-and-there, to regular giving, to generous giving all while they grew in their relationship with Jesus.

There is so much to be said on this topic and I cannot fit it all into one post, so in the next post, we’ll consider the final “why” of generosity along with some further discussion on giving.
If you want to start giving to North Church and/or set up a recurring donation please click HERE.
 
In Christ,

Pastor Ryan

* I recuse myself from knowing what any person gives to the church and have done for the last five years of pastoral ministry.

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