Dear Friends in Christ,
“For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9)
This past weekend I was blessed to worship with Pastors Tim Philabaum and Mike Brown and the people of God at Zoar Lutheran Church in Perrysburg, Ohio. They are just finishing up their Fall Stewardship Campaign using the theme, “Abundant Joy and Overflowing Generosity”, based on 2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9. The materials that Zoar’s Stewardship Committee put together were simply outstanding. I especially appreciated the booklet, “Financial Stewardship: Growing Closer to Jesus”, which included 6 Guidelines for Giving that are based on St. Paul’s teaching in 2 Corinthians. I have received permission from the good folks at Zoar Lutheran to share these simple guidelines with you:
Let giving be on purpose
Giving is something we do on purpose, with forethought, and planning. The Bible says, “give as you have made up your minds” (2 Corinthians 9:7). The assumption is that we have made up our minds to give. It’s not something we do “on the fly” or when it occurs to us or when we have something left over. It involves making a decision to participate financially in Christ’s work in the world.
Let giving be joyful
Stewardship begins and ends with joy. “God loves a cheerful giver,” the Bible says (2 Corinthians 9:7). Guilt has no place. Shame does not belong. Pressure does not apply. We are not to give out of guilt, shame, or pressure. Giving grows from gratitude.
Let giving keep God first
When you receive your pay, let your giving to Christ be the first on the list. The Bible calls this “first fruits” giving. In doing this, you keep God first not only in your finances but in your heart.
Let giving be planned in advance
The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 9:5 to “arrange your gift in advance.” Planning in advance is also called a pledge. The pledge, also called a faith commitment or estimate of giving, is not a contract. It is our promise to God in support of Christ’s work in the world.
Let giving be an act of worship
When it comes to giving, the Bible says that first we “give ourselves to the Lord” (2 Corinthians 8:5). It’s our hearts God is after. All stewardship revolves around worship.
Let giving show the cross of Christ
The Bible says Jesus became poor so that we might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9). It also says that he gave his life for us. When you give, give enough that you can feel it. Give enough that it requires some sacrifice.