Recently I shared several lessons about stewardship from 2 Corinthians 8-9. This week I want to offer seven diagnostic questions that can help you evaluate how you are stewarding the money Jesus has entrusted to you.
- Do I think of my money as my money or God’s money? When you give, do you give as if you’re giving away something that belongs to you? Or do you give as if God is graciously letting you hold on to some of what is his? All of your money really isn’t your money. It’s God’s, and he is loaning it out to you. One day you will give an account for every penny.
- Do I assume an increase in pay means an increase in lifestyle? I know my heart. Just like most Americans, I’m prone to assume that more money in my pay check means more stuff for my family. But what if God didn’t give me that increase to spend on myself? What if God gave me that increase so I would have more to give towards finishing the mission?
- Do I prioritize my church when I give? In Matthew 16 Jesus said he was going to build a church. Not a relief organization. Not a ministry. Not a Bible college. A church. I’ll be the first to tell you there’s all sorts of organizations that are worthy of your financial gifts. But first and foremost, the Christian should prioritize the local church where they worship and serve.
- Do I give a thoughtful “tithe” of my income? Abraham tithed, 10%. The Old Testament law prescribed a tithe, 10%. When God punished his people with exile one of the reasons he punished them was a lack of tithing, 10%. You might notice that all of these references are from the Old Testament. You might also notice I put the word “tithe” in quotation marks. Did you know the New Testament does not talk about tithing? It talks about giving, but it doesn’t specify a percentage. Some people see this as a loop hole or an unwritten asterisk. I disagree. When Jesus talked about the Old Testament law it seems to me like he upped the ante on things like murder and adultery. So my suggestion is that we take 10% as a good baseline for giving. The truth is, in my 10 years as a pastor I’ve only met a handful of folks who could not afford 10%. And the truth is, in my 10 years as a pastor, many people in my churches could afford to give way more than 10%.
- Do I make sacrificial gifts over and above my normal “tithe”? Whatever percentage you settle on for your tithe, that needs to be a baseline part of your budget. The question here is, do you make sacrificial gifts over and above your normal giving?
- Do I connect giving to a particular life stage? Grade school students and middle school students think they will give when they get a part time job. High school students and college students think they will give when they get a real job. Young adults think they will give when their kids are grown. Adults think they’ll give when their house is paid off. Older adults think they’ll give when the nest egg is big enough. Senior adults think giving is for people who have real income. Everyone has an excuse, but the truth is giving should never be connected to a particular life stage.
- Do I only give when I attend church? Too many churches are filled with people who only give when they attend. When these folks are sick or on vacation, they don’t give. If that’s you, please understand two truths. First, sporadic giving hurts the ministry of your church. Second, sporadic giving proves that you’re nothing but a consumer paying for religious services.
What other questions would you ask to help someone diagnose their faithfulness in the area of financial stewardship?
Originally published February 10, 2016 on landoncoleman.com.