A Framework for Generosity

There is no shortage of biblical material on giving, with over 2,300 verses in the Bible on money, wealth and possessions.  Jesus talked about it frequently, and over one-third of his parables relate to these topics.  This material suggests generous giving should be:
A priority – assessed in relation to all of our income, and not simply the spare change after all other needs have been satisfied. (e.g. Deut 26.2-3, 1 Cor 16.2, 2 Cor 8.5) Prayerful – an act of worship and thanksgiving. (e.g. 1 Chron 29.10-14) Planned – but not prescriptive, and allowing spontaneous generosity. (e.g. 2 Cor 9.7) Proportionate – a realistic proportion of our income. (e.g. 1 Cor 16.2, 2 Cor 8.11-13) Given in community – both for the needs of others, and given with others for a common purpose. (e.g. Acts 2.42-47, 2 Cor 8.13,14).     The act of giving shifts our focus from individual wants to a communal need, demonstrating solidarity with the poor and a commitment to working together in mission. Sacrificial – in that there is a cost to our giving. As a result, we will have less to spend on ourselves, and our lifestyles will reflect this. Those who have more to give, will give more. (e.g. Luke 21.1-4, 2 Cor 8.2-4)

Cheerfully and joyfully given
– whether giving of money, time or hospitality, we give with grace from the heart, as an offering to God. (e.g. 2 Cor 9.7,8) The scope of Christian giving is not just financial giving but how we use the money, time, talents and possessions God has entrusted to us.  Generous giving should become second nature to us, and as it becomes so, our living and our giving are transformed to start to resemble the overflowing generosity of God.  This is Giving for Life.

Case Study: Personal Giving
Steve and Margaret have been trying to see how they can live in a way that reflects God's generosity.  After prayer and a lot of discussion they now set aside 12 per cent of their income each month to support God's work.  Half is given to their local church by standing order.  With the other half they support seven charities and mission organisations regularly, but keep some back to be able to respond to some of the one-off appeals they receive.  They also give of their time, doing pastoral visiting through their church, and also use their home to offer hospitality regularly.  They are aware that this level of giving means that they have less to spend on themselves, but have felt for some time that this is the right path for them. For Discussion:

How is giving talked about in your church?  Is it set firmly in a discipleship context, or is there a tendency to focus on paying the bills? Taken from the Church of England ‘Giving for Life’ leaflet.