“Just as you should give faithfully to your local church, you should give faithfully to the organizations that minister the gospel to you regularly.”
As people become more unstable in the economy, it can be difficult to talk about charitable giving. When individuals are already paying over 40% of their income in taxes, they are typically pinching every penny to make ends meet. Therefore, talking about the various ministries that are in desperate need of your support can seem rather daunting.
However, trusting God with our finances involves more than just praying for our daily bread and saying we believe that He will provide. Trusting God requires action and this is why we are commanded to tithe and give financially to the Lord’s work. Once we understand the purpose and place for giving, it will no longer be a burden. We can and ought to be cheerful in our giving.
Here is a helpful guideline to prioritize your giving and maximize your support for the gospel. I have never been a particular fan of the expression, “What Would Jesus Do?” Partly because it doesn’t work in every scenario. How is that question going to prevent you from drowning? Jesus would just walk on water. Also, what about situations Jesus never faced? He was never given a ballot to vote, and yet, He is the one who appoints kings and rulers. Knowing that He appointed Herod, Nero, and Hitler, however, gives us very little reassurance when going to the polls.
Give to your local church
This is the primary means by which you are instructed and held accountable. You give to your church because God commands it. Your church should be like your home, where you are fed and the base from where you serve your community. Jesus commissioned the Church to serve as the Body of Christ to fulfill the great commission, and it is through the Church that Christians will have the greatest impact on the world.
Giving to your local church not only helps support the local proclamation of the gospel, but most churches also have a global missions program where your tithe is being used to affect global missions as well.
So the priority of your giving should always be to your local church.
Give to the ministries that actively bless you
It is so easy for us to pay for our cable and internet, our morning coffee and our daily paper, but how often do we support the ministries that are feeding us daily. Just as you should give faithfully to your local church, you should give faithfully to the organizations that minister the gospel to you regularly. If you are blessed, return the blessing. Many non-profit media ministries are market driven and dependant on listener support. If you are receiving a free gift then it is proper to give back.
Give to the gospel work both globally and locally
After giving to your church and supporting the ministries that are having a direct impact on your spiritual life, it is also appropriate to think about how you can make a greater impact for the furtherance of the gospel. When missionaries and evangelists commit their lives to the gospel calling outside of a local church, they are dependant on the many who remain in the church to support them. Find a ministry that is effectively working with or through a local church or who is committed fully to planting churches with a sustainable model that will eventually become self sustaining and not require long term financial support.
Help meet the needs of the less fortunate through Christ-centered humanitarian ministries
There is no question that there are many humanitarian needs in our world today, and there are a lot of great organizations that are doing a tremendous job through the testimony of Christ. If you don’t have any more to give, there is always a need for volunteers. My parents once asked me during a Thanksgiving dinner while I was serving as a social worker, which organizations they could give their money to that were making an impact in the communities where I worked. I told them, “Take what money you had hoped to give and calculate that back into hours and give them your time instead.” Many of the humanitarian ministries of which I am aware are shorter on help than they are on cash.
Find a humanitarian ministry that is not only focused on providing water and basic supplies, but is also providing opportunities for those they are helping to get connected with a local church or a Christian community. Look for the humanitarian ministries that are providing means for individuals to earn a wage or improve their living situation, rather than those who just provide the basic necessities. Be wary of those ministries that are profiting off of the backs of the less fortunate and creating more of a need for themselves rather than working themselves out of a job.
Return to the ministries who have already invested in you
It is proper, once you have profited off of the service and generosity of others to return that blessing to them. Whether it is a school or a church from your past, a media ministry or a family who took you in when you were in need, when you have been blessed, it is a great joy and honor to return that blessing once we have means. As God has given to you, don’t forget those who have helped you along your way and be like the leper who was healed. While the other nine were only focused on the gift they had been given, the one returned to Jesus to thank Him for what he had received (Luke 17:11-19).
Don’t forget the most important principle of giving: Prayer. Pray through this list and ask the Spirit of God to guide you and direct you on how you ought to give. Although it may be daunting to think about all of the ministries asking for your support, if you prayerfully follow this list of giving principles you may just discover one of the greatest blessing in the Christian’s life: investing in the Kingdom of God.
Rev. Adam Miller is the President and Host of Songtime and can be heard daily on the Songtime Radio Broadcast.
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