Can I let you in on a secret?
Did you know that giving is one of the greatest joys in life? There is almost nothing like it. Giving of your time, your finances, your talents, your gifts and abilities to a great cause is what life is all about.
I still remember when I was a young man; I think around 25, when I heard of a missionary in South Africa who desperately needed a minibus to go to the mission field in Lesotho. I had been saving money to buy a special French car for myself; they were called “ugly ducks’ in The Netherlands in those days. And I was almost “there”; I had almost reached my budget. Till I heard of this missionary and I decided to give it all to him. And you know what? I had never been happier, never been more fulfilled. I could picture him cruising around, bringing the good news to people and I, a young man far away in Holland, had been instrumental in answering the prayers of this faithful and hard-working man.
I think this is what Jesus meant when He said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Receiving is alright, but giving is better and gives more joy.
This is also the attitude I would really like to see develop more and more in NDIC.
We want to be known as a life-giving church and for me this means more than only the spiritual and relational dimension. It is also about being generous; it also has a financial component to it. When you start thinking about the church, about missions, about those in need you have this growing desire within you to make a real difference.
This brings me to my five guidelines on giving.
1. Joyful giving is an Antidote to Materialism
-Did you know that the Gospels contain more warnings concerning the misuse of money than any other singular subject? One in every four verses in Matthew, Mark and Luke deals with money.
-Did you know that almost one half of the parables of Jesus make reference to money and its misuse, particularly in the area of covetousness?
-Did you know that the only one of the twelve apostles to fall (Judas) actually fell over money? (John 12:4-8; 13:27; Acts 1:25; Mat 26:14-16; John 12:4-6)
-Did you know that the first sin in the early church concerned hypocrisy in the giving of money to the Lord? (Acts 5:1-10).
-Scripture has 500 verses on prayer, less than 500 verses on faith, but over 2000 verses on the subject of money!
In other words: When you hear me talk about money and giving, I am only following Scriptural standards and you are therefore right in the middle of a “spiritual talk.”
2. Joyful giving takes place when it is Voluntary, Purposeful and Proportionate.
It is great to give at the moment you sense a need.
Just think of the first Church in the book of Acts and how they spontaneously sold houses and pieces of land as the need arose. They gave voluntary. On the long run though, I think it is even greater to purposefully and proportionally set money aside every month to give to the church.
Money is so important; you can’t leave it up to chance or memory (I know I can’t).
The apostle Paul needed to collect a large amount of money for the poor in Jerusalem and didn’t want to leave things to chance. So this is what the he wrote to the Corinthians: “On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.” (1 Cor. 16:2)
Let’s face it: without an automatic bank transfer the moment your salary comes in, other priorities will creep in, you will spend money on other (urgent) things and the church and God’s Kingdom will suffer for it.
The advantage of planned giving is also that your gifts are tax-deductible and it helps the church to budget wisely.
The words “as he may prosper” relates to the principle of proportionate giving. Paul instructed the Christians in Corinth that their giving should increase as the Lord blessed them. He also said not go give beyond their means, “it is acceptable according to what a man has, not according to what he does not have.” (cf. 2 Cor. 8:12-15, Mark 12:41-44).
You may ask: “Alright, I understand this, but what fits my situation?”
I want to encourage you to pray about it and for example think about the principle of proportionate giving as described in this section. You can also think about the example the Old Testament Saints left you (for example Abraham in Gen. 14:18-24 or 1 Chronicles 29 where David gave gifts for building the temple) and about the aspect of faith in all of this. If you give and it requires no faith at all and you hardly notice it, are you than giving in faith? Be willing to stretch your faith muscles in giving and see how the Lord will help you to be a wise steward with what is left.
3. Joyful giving takes place when a vision greater than life is presented.
I remember the story of Pastor Billy Hornsby from ARC Ministries. He described how a very wealthy business man came to live in a certain town and listened to a young pastor describing his vision for the church and how it would impact the nations. This is what the business man said afterwards: “This young man’s vision is so big! This is where I can invest my money” (in helpful facilities, a missions program, vehicles, books, etc.).
If NDIC is going to be a life-giving and influential church, reaching nations for Christ, than its leadership needs to be able to describe a vision which will stir people and cause them to give sacrificially. People want to make a difference and we can provide them with the greatest cause on earth.
4. Joyful giving takes place when we understand the principle of sowing and reaping.
God’s promise is: “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” (2 Cor. 9:6). If you want your life to make a difference, yet you invest little or nothing, then you will also reap little to nothing. The more you sow, the more you will receive. Every farmer can tell you the importance of sowing quality seed in abundance. No seed, no harvest. Much seed, much harvest. The choice is up to us.
5. Joyful giving takes place when there is accountability
According to the pattern in the New Testament, NDIC money will be used:
*To help believers in other places who are in need.
(Acts 11:27-30, 24:17; Romans 15:25-28; 1 Corinthians 16:1-4; 2 Corinthians 8:1-15; 9:12)
When believers in other places were in need (for example because of a famine) the churches were called on to provide financial help. It is important to understand that such collections were not continuous – they stopped when the need was over (Acts 11:27-30, 12:15; 1 Corinthians 16:1-4).
NDIC will likely send this money through designated mission channels, like “Convoy of Hope”. At times we may also send money directly. With reaching out to believers “in other places” we include the aspect of Missions, NDIC wants to become a church who is passionately about Missions, not just a church with a missions program.
* To help church members who are financially needy.
Giving could be done anonymously and directly (Matthew 6:1-4; Ephesians 4:28). It was also done increasingly through the local church. There was for example a list of local widows who were eligible for help from the local church (1 Tim. 5:3, 9, 16). Financial help can be done by helping members to make a budget, giving some advice based on Biblical guidelines and where necessary referring them to existing initiatives. Those who refuse to work are not to be supported (1 John 3:17; Jam. 2:15-16; Gal. 6:10; Heb. 10:33-34; 13:1-3 with 2 Thess. 3:6-10).
* To help apostles (church founders), in support of their work.
(Acts 15:3; Romans 15:23-24; 1 Corinthians 9:1-14, 16:5-6, 10-11; 1 Corinthians 1:16; Philippians 4:14-18; Titus 3:13-14; 3 John 5-8).
The church was expected to support the apostles who were sent out. The Greek word for “sent” (propempo) in the New Testament, is associated with helping someone on their way – with money or food, traveling companions, transportation, etc. Very practical! The same is true for the word “welcome” (Philippians 2:29; 3 John 10).
To welcome a church founder was to offer him temporary hospitality and to provide for his other needs as well. New Testament church founders were given a certain amount of money beforehand to help them reach their destination. Once their arrived they would evangelize, establish churches, train believers, and then move on. During their journey they were “welcomed” by already established churches, and “sent” further on their way.
In the event an apostle was creative enough to support himself, the support of the local church could be postponed (Acts 18:1-6).
* To help NDIC realize its mission (and yours as well).
Money is needed for rent, purchasing equipment, material for children’s work, insurance, community outreach, etc. These are very practical things.
In addition, when the financial situation allows it, NDIC would like to provide a salary to its part-time or full-time staff.
1 Timothy 5:17-19 describes a “double honor”, especially for “those who labor in the word and doctrine.” The Bible also says “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” In other words; allow them to do God’s work without putting a financial strain on their lives. Galatians 6:6 says, “Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.”
Till next time,
Peter van der Meijden
P.S.: A Board of Finance and Policy (the BFP) oversees our finances. In the NDIC Bylaws you can find detailed information about its responsibilities.
P.S.: This message is not meant to be exhaustive in any way. Much can be said about Biblical guidelines for giving, saving, investing, borrowing, stewardship, debt cancellation, etc. At the right time I trust we will delve into this subject further.