The Biblical Ethic of Stewardship and Generosity
"You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way..." (2 Cor. 9:11a)
The Effect of the Gospel
In 2 Corinthians 8:9 and following, Paul discusses the effect the Gospel should have on the way Christians understand wealth: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” Seeing Christ's sacrificial love for us, that he gave up everything so that we could inherit the riches of heaven, helps us develop a healthy attitude toward our material possessions and become people who are both generous and joyful.
Understanding the riches we have already received in Christ not only liberates us from excessive concern over our wealth, talents and time, but also motivates us to invest them in the eternal kingdom of God.
What is stewardship?
A steward is a person who has been entrusted with, and who manages, another’s resources according to the owner’s vision and values. Each of us was created for stewardship by God (Genesis 1:28). A steward is both a ruler with authority to govern resources and a servant accountable to the owner of those resources. The New Testament calls Christians caretakers of God’s truths and gifts — even God’s grace (1 Corinthians 4:1; 1 Peter 4:10). Everything we have belongs to God - a gift to us and a gift through us as managers with a kingdom mindset.
What is generosity?
Generosity is the natural, consistent, and occasionally spontaneous giving of our material possessions to God’s service and to our communities because of and modeled after what Jesus Christ has done for us on the cross. As God “did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all” (Romans 8:32), so our posture toward God and others in response to his love should be one of cheerful sacrifice and generosity.
What is the basis for the tithe?
In the Old Testament, believers were required to give a tenth of their income to the support of the ministry and the needs of the poor. The New Testament teaches that we should give as we are “able and even beyond [our] ability” (2 Corinthians 8:3). Therefore, the tithe (10%) is seen as a kind of minimum guideline for giving. In the New Testament, Jesus told the Pharisees that they should tithe as they were already doing, while not neglecting justice and love (Luke 11:42).
Do I give 10% of my gross or net income?
Scripture teaches that we are to give back to God our “first fruits” (Exodus 23:16, 19). Proverbs 3:9 encourages us to “honor the Lord with [our] wealth, with the first fruits of [our] crops,” meaning the primary and choicest of our possessions. God has modeled “first fruits” by giving us his son, Jesus Christ. Our response to God should reflect our love of and devotion to him.
What if I am unable to give 10% right now?
There are seasons in our economic life. There are financial responsibilities to our families, friends, communities, and in some cases, creditors. In any stage of life, good planning is necessary to increase our giving over time without neglecting our legal and personal financial obligations. For some people, 10% is too low a starting point. For others, giving even 5% is a sacrifice. The goal is to increase one’s commitment up to and above 10%, so that it models Christ’s love to our communities.
Should I give all of my tithe and offering to Village Church?
The answer to this is a qualified "no." Your gift is an act of personal worship to God in response to his grace in your life and the gift of his Son. The allocation of your money and time to God’s service should be a byproduct of prayer and of consultation with other Christians to whom you are accountable. However, if you consider Village Church your “home church,” you should consider allocating a significant portion of your tithe and offering to the community where you invest most of your time and where others are investing in you.
Isn’t there more to generosity and stewardship than money?
We certainly must be good stewards of all that God has given us: money, time, skills, influence and position. Therefore, generosity and stewardship are about much more, but not less, than our financial resources. Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Our heart’s inclination is to worship anything other then God. In any life, money can become an idol. Therefore, giving it away generously to God’s service can liberate us from our idolatry and fix our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2).
How does Village Church meet our vision?
From the beginning, Village Church’s vision has been to build not just a good church but also, through the ministries of the church, to fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandments - to make disciples and to love God and our neighbor in tangible, not abstract, ways.
It might be tempting to think that your individual contributions do not make a difference to the work that is being done. However, over 90% of Village Church’s operating budget comes from the weekly giving of our members and regular attenders. Your giving counts and is greatly appreciated!