This article is about the priorities in the giving of our money.

Source: New Horizons, 1987. 2 pages.

To Whom Should I Give?

One simply cannot read 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 without being deeply convicted that a liberal spirit with respect to giving is urged for Christians. Such a spirit is a clear evidence of the grace of God (8:1), a grace in which we are to abound (vs.7). It is a test of the sincerity of our love for the kingdom of God (vss.8, 24) and an actual means by which the joyous worship of the citizens of the kingdom of God is promoted (9:11-14).

Putting it bluntly, a miserly spirit is utterly out of accord with the spirit of one united with the Savior, who “though he was rich, yet for your sakes became poor, that you through his poverty might become rich” (8:9).

The problem Christians face (especially in a free enterprise culture that is very free in its enterprises appealing for money!) is “To whom shall I give?” We all receive more requests for assistance than we can honor. How do I decide where to give?

In our family giving we have followed four basic principles which we have found helpful:

Personally, I am convinced that the tithe is to be given to the Lord. That giving is to be done through one's local church, as is the pattern in the New Testament (e.g. 1 Corinthians 16:2; 2 Corinthians 8:1-7; Philippians 4:10ff., etc.). Para-church groups are not the church and have no claim on that which ought to go to the institution ordained by God for the furtherance of the gospel (Ephesians 3:10). As a congregation member I would be unfair to my personal commitment to the overall ministry of my local church if, for whatever reason, I did not keep this priority. We give our tithe first, and that to our local church.

The Principle of Fidelity🔗

What about giving to Christian causes beyond the local church? You will want to support only that which is truly faithful to the word of God. Here, of course, you may want to allow some latitude with respect to the actual doctrinal commitment of an organization.

At the same time, since we are convinced that the confession and proclamation of nothing less than “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) is to the glory of God, we should support those works which are in harmony with the fundamental elements of the Reformed faith. Never should we give to that which actually tears down any aspect of the faith we hold so dear.

The Principle of Proximity🔗

The biblical order is always to provide first for what is nearest to us (e.g. Acts 2:44f., 1 Timothy 5:8). I am convinced this means that, in our giving beyond the local church, we should give first consideration to those worthy projects nearest to us. Who else is more inclined to support the Christian school in our town? If I am not helping our local crisis pregnancy center, should I expect someone in Alaska to support it?

The incessant appeals we receive from “nationwide” and “worldwide” ministries can easily make us forget that less spectacular local ministries may well be far more worthy of our giving. Certainly they are far more dependent on it, because they lack a broader constituency.

The Principle of Integrity🔗

2 Corinthians 8:18-21 is so instructive in this regard. Lest there be any question about the handling of all the money given by the churches, a delegation of trustworthy men administered the funds. The apostle was concerned to provide “honorable things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of all men” (vs.21).

Every Christian organization requesting our financial support should have the same standard. How is the money spent? Are its financial statements available? Have questionable practices been exposed and left uncorrected?

I am sobered when I realize that I am accountable to God for every cent that goes through our family! How careful we must be even in the matter of our liberality. Our gifts should not be wasted, but always be put to best use for the glory of God and the good of our neighbor.

Add new comment

(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.
(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.