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Over the next few days your inbox will be inundated with requests to donate to numerous charities and causes this Giving Tuesday. These are charities and causes we love and pray for. The onslaught, though well-intentioned, can be overwhelming.

How do we prayerfully sort through the requests determining where to donate?

Thankfully, Scripture is rich with wisdom on how we use the resources God has entrusted to us. Although the Bible talks about a variety of issues regarding money, including saving, inheritance, usury, debt, and providing for your family, here I want to reflect on principles specific to giving.

1. Everything Belongs to God

Most Christians believe that statement theologically, but we practically live as if we have primary ownership over all our belongings. We speak about our job, our vehicle, our home, and our savings as if they firstly and foremostly belong to us.

God has created everything (Genesis 1:2; Colossians 1:15-16), God owns everything (Haggai 2:8; Psalm 50:9-12) and God gives everything (Deuteronomy 8:18; 1 Timothy 6:17). He has the greatest ‘rent-a-centre’ in the universe, entrusting us with resources in this life, for His glory and honour. Our homes should be ministry centres and our vehicles tools for His Kingdom. Everything, including us, belongs to Him (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

2. Start with the First Fruits

God required that His people gave the first portions from the harvest, as an offering to Him (Exodus 23:19; Proverbs 3:9). God is of first importance, in every area of life, including our finances. Before spending money on food, clothing, rent, or a mortgage, we are called to honour God.

Giving the first portion of the harvest declared their trust in God for the rest of the harvest. Giving our first fruits demonstrates our trust in His provision and care. When writing out your budget, God must be the first line item. He comes first.

Every time a paycheck arrives in your account, or you are gifted with some money, your first responsibility is to honour God with it. Jesus says, ‘Where your treasure is, there your heart is also’ (Matthew 6:21). What He’s saying is something like this, ‘Where you spend your money most easily and most often reveals the condition of your heart.’ Let our hearts be focused on God and His Kingdom. Give your first fruits to Him.

3. Move from a Tithe to Generosity.

God also required His people to give a tithe – 10%. (Leviticus 27:30; Deuteronomy 12:6). Maybe God required a tithe because the math is simple.

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul encouraged generous giving (2 Corinthians 9:6-11). I often hear people talk about what they would do for His Kingdom with the million dollars they don’t have. God wants you to use the $20 or $1000 you do have.

Generosity is beyond a tithe.

It’s lavishly gifting your local church, as well as other ministries, to enable them to accomplish God’s work.

The base definition of greed is not honouring God with your wealth. If you have not been honouring God, Scripture calls you greedy (Luke 12:15; 1 Corinthians 5:9-11).

People frequently come to me with their excuses for not honouring God with their wealth, including I’m a student, we’re getting married, we’re buying a house, we’re paying for our children’s education, we’re near retirement. None of these reasons are Biblical. God commands all believers to honour Him with their wealth. Start with a tithe, this week, and ask God to move you to generosity.

4. Give Cheerfully

God wants cheerful and not begrudging givers. He longs for our hearts to celebrate giving to His Kingdom, showing our trust in Him, as well as our belief that He is our provider and source of income (2 Corinthians 9:7).

Occasionally, I’m asked to preach in a charismatic church where the congregation dances their offering to the front. It delights my heart to watch this act of worship (even though I e-transfer mine). God wants us to generously give sacrificially and cheerfully.

5. Make your Local Church Priority #1

In the 28 years I was pastoring, I never talked about giving to the church. We gave to the Lord through the local church. We see this pattern in Scripture where people brought their gifts to the elders and leaders (Acts 4:34-35). Collections were taken in local congregations (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). God’s primary vehicle of ministry is the local church.

That’s not to say that there isn’t a place for the parachurch (I’m currently the chair of both TGC Canada and City to City Canada), but it is to recognize a pattern in the New Testament of honouring God through the local church, under the authority of elders, as your first priority.

6. Care for the Poor and Oppressed

We read in Isaiah that a vibrant relationship with God leads His people to clothe, shelter and feed the impoverished (Isaiah 58:7). In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus teaches that His followers will live so radically different than the world that they will be hospitable to the cripple, the poor, the blind and the lame, by welcoming them into their homes, to feast (Luke 14:12-14).

In the Epistle of James, we are taught to care for orphans and widows, as well as brothers and sisters who are struggling (James 1:27; James 2:14-19). God’s care for the poor is demonstrated when churches with more gave to churches in need (2 Corinthians 8). God calls us to care for the poor, first in our midst, so that there is no needy among us (Acts 4:32-35) and then in the world around us.

7. Spread the Good News of the Gospel

One of my favourite passages of Scripture is the parable of the Shrewd Manager (Luke 16:1-15). Jesus explains that we are to, ‘Use worldly wealth to gain friends for ourselves, so that when it is gone, we will be welcomed into eternal dwellings’ (Luke 16:9).

Jesus wants us to use the wealth God has given us, in such a way, that those who don’t know Him can hear the Gospel and be saved. Whether that’s through the outreach of your local church or another ministry, in your town or city, or across the world, we need to be supporting gospel-centred endeavours everywhere.

Paul was supported as a missionary (Philippians 4:10-19). The Lord will use our prioritizing wealth in this way to draw people to Himself, including people we’ve never met.

You will never regret using your worldly wealth, until it is gone, to gain Kingdom friends who will welcome you into glory.

Some of them will go before us into glory. Maybe they’ll greet us with a banner saying, ‘Welcome Jim or Susan or Buhtoo or ZuZu.’

As we meet them, we might ask, ‘Do I know you?’

Some will answer, ‘No, but…I was a part of a gospel-centered soccer league or Christmas hamper program that you faithfully sponsored, or I was in a closed country where you supported missionaries and, in part, your generosity allowed me to hear the gospel and respond to God’s gracious gift of salvation. Thank you for your generosity.’

You will never regret using your worldly wealth, until it is gone, to gain Kingdom friends who will welcome you into glory.

What should you do this Giving Tuesday?

Start by recognizing that everything you have belongs to God, prayerfully consider if you have been honouring Him with the first fruits of your wealth, starting with a tithe and moving to generosity, from a cheerful heart, as you prioritize your local church, while giving lavishly to gospel-centred ministries that care for the poor and oppressed along with ministries that boldly declare the gospel to those who haven’t heard the good news.

You can trust Him. He is faithful. If you can trust God with your salvation, you can trust Him with the wealth He has given you. May you be generous not only this Giving Tuesday but every time God provides for you.