Rule 3 - Giving

 (click the arrow to listen)

We commit to being stewards of our income for the Kingdom and support of the poor

First of all, let’s understand the three important words in this rule: stewards, income and the Kingdom.
A steward is a person who looks after someone else’s affairs. When we think of our own lives, we are only actually stewards of what we possess, because nothing belongs to us for ever. We just have access to it while we are alive and then, when we die, it goes to someone else.

This covers every kind of earning. For most of us this will be wages. For some it is pension income or perhaps welfare benefits. We might possibly have earnings from investments or shares. 

The Kingdom
As a challenge, try to explain what the kingdom of God is in one sentence. It is extremely difficult. Pointing out what the kingdom of God is NOT can help. The Church is not the kingdom – but the kingdom of God can be discovered there. Our society is definitely not the kingdom of God for the Kingdom is not a political system. 
Here is my attempt:
The Kingdom of God is anywhere the Holy Spirit demonstrates that Jesus is Lord.
However, I prefer this wonderful summary from Pope Benedict XVI:
The Kingdom of God is Jesus. (St Paul, p46)

In the Old Testament, giving could be goods or money. The Temple sacrifices comprised valuable livestock or goods. The measure of giving was described as a ‘tithe’. This is an old-fashioned word that means one tenth or 10%. This was the understood amount that was to be given to the Lord’s work. The idea of a tithe existed before bible laws about giving were written. In Genesis 14, we read how Abram gave Melchizedek the priest 10% of his war booty. So, this amount of giving was viewed as normal from the beginning of bible times.

Tithing is not mentioned in this way in the New Testament. Here, giving is regulated by three principles:
On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.
(1 Corinthians 16:2)
According to this principle, giving is to be decided by the individual taking into account their household needs and earnings.

their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. (Acts 6:1)
When the church began, it looked after those who lived in poverty; these people gave nothing but actually received.

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 8:7)
It is good to practise generosity in giving, as you consider how much you should contribute to the Lord’s work or relief of poverty.

balanced giving

Many churches teach tithing and push this as a rule. I am recommending this as ballpark figure. The Church of England actually develops this idea, very helpfully suggesting we give 5% of our income to the Church. It then also suggests we might like to double that by giving to other causes we might choose.

The principle of giving by balancing income against personal and family needs is a good one. In the UK, for a widow on a pension of say £130/week, £13 is a lot of money. For the executive on £200,000 a year, the considerations are different. I recall Rick Warren speaking about giving and tithing. He is an internationally successful Christian author, and has earned a great deal from his books. When he applied these principles, he ended up giving away more of his income than he kept for himself.

The Poor
There has been a Christian tradition from the beginning of the church 2000 years ago, to look after the poor in society. It was expressed in this way when the Apostles Peter and John spoke to Paul about his work:
All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along. (Galatians 2:10)

When we come to deciding who should receive our gifts, we ought to judge whether our giving will help the Kingdom of God come on earth. For most Christians this will involve supporting the church they attend. But also there are many Christian organisations working throughout the world, sharing the Kingdom and the love of Jesus through their work. This could be medical work, bible translation, mission work, church planting or the relief of poverty. There are more than enough options for us to demonstrate to God that we are cheerful givers and deserving of His love.

Let me finish with the 3 main points of John Wesley’s famous sermon 50, on giving:
Earn all you can. 
Save all you can. 
Give all you can.

back to top