Our missions/giving guidance is built on biblical ideals and premises, comprised of what we believe the Bible has to say on the subject. This document should guide our church’s giving/financial decisions (and more importantly, the motives behind those decisions).
What is a biblical definition of "giving"?
There is nothing which belongs solely to us (Psalms 24:1). When we give, we are merely transferring on that which God has already given – a literal reflection of the character of God.
This does not mean that our giving costs us nothing just because nothing belongs solely to us. True giving must always be costly (indeed, God endured the greatest cost for our sakes). Though we belong to God, we have been given autonomy – a free will capable of showing mercy, compassion, and love. We therefore share with God the ability to feel the weight of sacrifice. This idea of sacrifice is intrinsic to the beauty of giving. This true definition of giving as sacrifice we understand only by the grace of God.
Giving is an act of worship as well. We're always giving something away; whether it's our time, emotion, money, or material things, we're continually giving things of our own away to other things or people. When you give your time, emotion, or money to something, you're essentially assigning value to that thing – you're considering that person or thing important. When we choose to give money or time to something, we hope that it will be a form of true worship of our Lord, whom we value above all.
We must also mention that giving is not always a good thing. Many times we give something in exchange for something else, something that may accrue to our benefit or pleasure. In this light we can see that giving can certainly be ill-motivated, half-hearted, dishonest, unwise, or self-centered, offerings unacceptable to God (Amos 5:21, 22). Therefore as Christians we must always be concerned that our giving be pleasing and acceptable in God’s sight. We can see now that true giving has very strict qualifiers.
True giving is from God, is costly and sacrificial, seeks genuinely for the benefit of the receiver, is not motivated by any degree of selfishness, and always satisfies the greatest commandment of God, that you “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind… and that you love your neighbor as yourself”.
Remember that the Bible defines true giving as something that is actually better than receiving (Philippians 4, Acts 20:35), and the true giver as someone who will be blessed (Proverbs 22:9) in their efforts.
How to give (attitudes towards, responses to, and motivations behind giving)
We should give completely of ourselves, even beyond our ability – if it's not costing us, then it's not true giving (2 Samuel 24:24, Phil. 2, 2 Corinthians 8). We must give graciously and generously, considering even those who do not merit the gift, as we did not merit salvation (2 Corinthians 8-9, Psalm 37). We should be full of prayer, patience, and thankfulness as we make our decisions and act (Phil. 4: 6, Col 4:2). Our giving should not make us arrogant, but should make us praise God (2 Cor 9: 6,7, Psalm 24:1, 1 John 4:19, 1 Corinthians 1:31). Our decisions should be made in a practical, logical, shrewd, and wise manner, as is fitting for good stewards (Matthew 10: 12-16). We must be humble, willing to admit when mistakes have been made, and willing to reallocate the church’s money in the face of unfruitful investments. We must be cheerful, hopeful, and loving in our giving (2 Corinthians 8-9, Ex 35: 4-5, 1 Chron 29:9).
To whom/to what should we give?
An obvious and broad answer: we should be giving our time and money to those who have legitimate need.
We must remember the poor, the orphans, and the widows, with special emphasis on the needy inside the church (Gal 6:10), and we must share our money, food, and time with them (James 1:27, Matthew 25:34-46, Romans 15, Gal 2:9-10, Luke 10, Proverbs 29:7, Proverbs 22:9). We must remember also the needy that we may not necessarily like or be attracted to (Luke 10). God commands us to do all of this, and we should not ignore these commandments. In determining the legitimacy of need, we turn to prayer, guidance the holy spirit, the leadership of our elders, our own clever noggins and those of the church for advice.
However, we must remember to look at the things which are unseen and eternal (2 cor 4:18, 1 Tim 6:17-18). Our chief concern is a matter of the salvation of souls. Salvation is the greatest gift and the greatest need, shared by every human in Adam’s race. It therefore makes sense that our emphasis always rest on giving money and time towards the spreading of the gospel, the power of God for salvation of all who believe (Romans 1:16).
Practically, this means we should be investing our money in missionaries or in some outlet that will, God-willing, yield the fruit of the spreading of the gospel. This is a precarious endeavor. We are merely mediators between members of Salina, who give and entrust their money to us, and other missionaries, whom we support and trust to give their lives for the sake of the gospel. For this chain of trust and investment to function, we must be “as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16). As we are trying to make shrewd investments, the missionaries we support ought to be like-minded Christians, who share the convictions about giving/missions described in this document (1 Corinthians 12: 12-26, Eph 4: 4-6), who seek not the money, but the blessing to the giver (Phil 4), and who will thank God for providing the giver with the ability to give (2 Corinthians 9). We also need to be in a relation position from which we can correctly judge and hold accountable the actions of whatever missionaries/organizations/etc we are funding (Hebrews 10: 24-25, 2 Corinthians 13: 5) by the aforementioned standards. We must also be able to achieve/maintain a peaceful, unified relationship between whatever missionary/organization/etc. we are giving to – we are the body of Christ working together for the same thing(Ecc 4: 9-12, Eph 4). We must make ourselves involved in the ministry of whoever we are giving to, demonstrating genuine affection and concern for them and their work (Phil 4, Romans 15, etc.).
Why should we give?
We love and give to others because God loves and gives to others (1 John 4:19). We put our money to work for Christ’s purposes because we know that that is far better than anything else we could possibly do with our money. We give our time and money to spreading the gospel because we, like God, eagerly desire that all of mankind be saved (1 Timothy 2: 3,4). We put our time and money towards missions because non-believers will not hear without a preacher (Romans 10). We earnestly seek to give to the needy because of the colossal responsibility we have. We have not only been given extreme material wealth as Americans, but we have also been given the ultimate gift of salvation. We are to be held accountable if we squander away the opportunity we have to spread the love of Christ (Eph 4: 1-6, Luke 12:48, Matthew 25: 14-30, 1 Corinthians 4:2). We give because our sacrifice glorifies the triune God who gives (2 Cor 9: 6-15).
To the members of Salina Street Church: our hope is that these ideals would define the driving force behind the giving actions of each and every individual member of our church. We urge our church family to give. Anywhere – just give. We also pray that we might gain and maintain your trust as a church, with a Missions Team supporting local and global outreach and missions, that you might feel secure in giving to Salina to support our missional service both locally and abroad. It's our church’s collective effort that yields higher spiritual returns on our investments, more than what would be possible individually.