Here are seven diagnostic questions that will help you evaluate your faithfulness in the areas of stewardship, money, and giving:
- Do I think of my money as my money or God’s money? Get this question right, and the rest will fall into place. When you give you must think of it as God letting you keep some of his money instead of you giving God some of your money.
- Do I assume an increase in pay means an increase in lifestyle? I know my heart. 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. In the book of Acts, he started to build it. Not a relief organization. Not a ministry. Not a Bible college. A church. There are many places that are worthy of your gifts. But first and foremost comes giving to our church. Period.
- Do I give a thoughtful “tithe” of my income? Abraham tithed, 10%. The Old Testament law prescribed a tithe, 10%. Malachi rebuked Israel for failing to tithe, 10%. Yes there are all Old Testament references, and yes I put tithe in quotation marks. I realize the New Testament never prescribes “tithing.” However, when I hear Jesus talk about the Old Testament law, it certainly seems like he ups the ante on things like murder and adultery. My suggestion is that we take 10% as a good baseline for giving.
- Do I make sacrificial gifts over and above my normal “tithe”? Whatever percentage you settle on for your tithe, that just needs to be a baseline part of your budget. The question here is, do you make sacrificial gifts over and above your normal giving. A sacrifice means you’re giving forces you to go without something you would otherwise be able to buy. Some sacrifice by going to the nations. Some by giving to send people to the nations.
- Do I connect giving to a particular life stage? Grade school students and middle school students, do you think you’ll start giving later when you get into high school and get a part time job? High school students and college students, do you think you’ll start giving later when you graduate and get a real job? Young adults, do you think you’ll start giving later when your kids are grown and out of your house? Adults, do you think you’ll start giving later once you get your house paid off? Older adults, do you think you’ll start giving later when you can tap into your nest egg? It doesn’t matter how old you are or how much you have to give. Being a good steward of your money begins right now right where you are.
- Do I only give when I attend church? When you don’t give because you are home sick or on vacation, you hurt your church. Even worse, if you only give when you attend, it’s proof that you’re not part of the mission. You’re just a consumer. There’s a world of difference between someone who’s part of the mission and someone who sees Sunday morning church as something they pay for. Consumers will never be able to finish the mission.
Originally published December 7, 2015 on landoncoleman.com.