2 Cor 8:7. But just as you excel in everything - in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us - see that you also excel in this grace of giving. NIV
The Bible speaks frequently about money and this is probably for a number of reasons - it's potential for great harm (greed and materialism) or great good, depending on whether it controls us or we control it; its importance in our lives; and its use in our life reflects our heart.
We can approach the subject of money from two perspectives (1 Cor. 1-2) - human wisdom (the natural mind) or the wisdom of God (faith in God's power). The Bible focuses on giving in "faith" (not just obedience) and on
believing God for miraculous provision for our needs.
Two common perspectives of the "natural mind" say this:
- Giving means I make a loss. "We probably don't say or think this consciously, but often it's in our subconscious mind. However, when we give or invest in the kingdom of God, we move into "triple-entry accounting". The world's financial systems operate on double-entry accounting. There are debits and corresponding credits and visa versa.
When you invest in the kingdom, there is a third entry account and it's a credit account. When we give or invest into the kingdom, it's not lost or gone. It is still "there". There is a return on what we give - it comes back to us in the form of blessings from God. There is also a multiplication principle at work too. We reap more than we sow. The more we give the more returns come our way. Jesus teaches this (see Matt.6:19-21) and Paul also teaches it (see Phil.4:10-19).
- I can't afford to "give" or "I'll give when I've got some surplus". The Bible teaches that when we give in faith (trusting totally in God) even when we are in a time of need, his miraculous provision begins to come our way. He only asks us to give of what we already have (not what we don't have) and as we go first, in faith and obedience, we release his blessing into our life.
This principle is taught explicitly throughout the Bible (see Ps.112:5. Prov.11:24-25; 22:9; 3:9-10. Lk.6:38. 2 Cor 9:6) and there are also many illustrations of people experienced the miracle of giving and then God breaking through to meet their need (see 1Kgs.17:7-16 as an example).Prov. 11:24-25. One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. NIV
When we're experiencing tough times financially, sometimes it seems easier to stop giving rather than trust God. However, giving shows our trust is in God. In fact, giving often leads to financial breakthrough as well as to breakthrough in other areas of our life.
God can make something out of nothing. He is Jehovah Jireh - our provider. He has an inexhaustible supply of everything. There is no shortage in heaven. When we trust him, we will have all that we need.
At CityLife, we want to be a giving church ("G" is for giving). We want to model a "lifestyle" of generosity that seeks to give generously of our time, energy and financial resources to God's work on earth (both here in CityLife and beyond).Sample Discussion Questions:
- Why do you think the Bible speaks so frequently about the subject of "money"?
Some suggestions are: it is an important subject, it is a key to other areas of life, it is a potential problem area for us (greed and materialism), etc.
- Why do you think that the subject of "money" or "giving" is a sensitive issue for some Christians?
Be open to any comments, which may include: abuse, negative experiences, personal issues with money, etc.
- Who would like to share a testimony or positive experience you have had as a result from giving financially (to an individual, a church or an organisation)?
Ask who has had an experience of giving when in "need" (rather than out of surplus) and God blessing them for it.
- Discuss Jesus' opinion of the Old Testament principle of "tithing" (giving 10% of all our income to God's work) as recorded in Matthew 23:23.
You may want to discuss the opinion that "tithing" is no longer for today. People who support this view fail to realise that nowhere in the New Testament is tithing abolished either by Jesus or the apostles (unlike other things which are clearly no longer relevant for today, such as circumcision, ceremonial washings, etc). In fact, the New Testament brings us into the age of grace where we give not because we have to but because we love to and all that we have belongs to God, not just the tithe.
- Read Paul's instructions to the church at Corinth regarding some fund raising he was conducting for the poor in Jerusalem and list as many principles of giving as you can (see 1 Cor.16:1-3. 2 Cor.8-9).
- Discuss the concept of a 10/10/80 financial plan - pay God, then yourself and then live on the rest (10% to God, 10% in savings or investment and 80% for living expenses).
Is this workable? What are the benefits of it?
Finish in prayer for a greater spirit of faith in God and the "miracle of giving" for each person in the group. Encourage each person to take the next appropriate step. It may be to start giving, to increase their giving or to stretch themselves for further breakthrough.