This page outlines our answers to some frequently asked questions about giving.
Based on how often the Bible talks about money, it's clear God cares very much about us having a right attitude about our finances. Generosity is often associated with money, but it’s not primarily about that. It is largely about our hearts. This is why people with no money at all can be generous and people who have more money than they know what to do with can be the most ungenerous people you can imagine. In fact, study after study shows that as the level of one’s income goes up, the level of generosity tends to go down. (The Paradox of Generosity)
Those studies wouldn’t surprise Jesus. He said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). We tend to put it the other way around. We tend to say, “Where my heart is, that’s where I’ll put my treasure.” But Jesus didn’t say that. He said the opposite. Essentially he was saying that our hearts will follow our treasure.
This is easy to illustrate. Let’s say that you don’t care about sports at all. But one day at work, someone tells you that everyone in the office is putting in one dollar to play the March Madness college basketball challenge. You decide to play and fill in all the brackets (you have no idea how to choose which team will win). You also put one dollar in the pot. All of a sudden you start watching the basketball games and you begin to care about whether “your” teams are winning or losing. Before the challenge you could not have cared less. But now you care. Your heart just followed your treasure.
If our bank statements were put on a billboard for everyone to see, or put on Facebook for all our friends to observe, would we be thrilled or embarrassed? Everyone could see where our hearts really are.
“IT IS MORE BLESSED TO GIVE THAN TO RECEIVE.” —ACTS 20:35
By giving things away we are blessed. By spending ourselves for others’ well-being, we enhance our own standing. By giving ourselves away, we ourselves move toward flourishing. This is a paradox. The generosity paradox can also be stated in a negative way. By grasping onto what we currently have, we lose out on a blessing that we might have gained. By always protecting ourselves against future uncertainties and misfortunes, we are affected in ways that make us more anxious about uncertainties and misfortunes.
Paul warned his friend Timothy who was a pastor in Ephesus, “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:9-10).
Paul went on to say, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share” (1 Timothy 6:17-18).
Generosity is not about a one-time offering, or some big gift that one decides to give for the poor. Generosity is about a way of living. It’s about putting our hope in God and being “rich in good deeds” and “generous and willing to share” all the time.
In short, generosity must be practiced. Single, random, irregular acts of generosity may be good to perform and may be beneficial for everyone involved but they don’t trigger the deeper movement of our heart unless they become a regular part of our lives. Generosity changes people through processes of formation, not isolated behaviors. Generosity is a practice. It is a discipline.
Why should I give to my church?
The local church is God's primary plan for reaching the world. The Bible and common sense suggest if you attend Fellowship Greenville regularly, you should financially support it. Unfortunately, in our church and most others, only about 20-30 percent of the attending households give 80 percent of the contributions! Can you imagine how much more we could impact our neighbors near and far if everyone who attended our church supported it financially on a regularly basis?
When you don’t give to the local church, you put a burden on those who do. In reality there is a give and take nature to a local church just as there is with any organization. When you are fed spiritually on Sunday from the teaching, or helped through a family crisis by a pastor, or attend a group bible study, you’re benefiting from the church. And that is a good thing. You’re supposed to benefit from the church. But in reality those things don’t happen without financial costs attached to them. The building and land have to be purchased and maintained. The heating and the air conditioning are not free. The pastors and other staff are paid. Cleaning supplies, chairs, and utilities have to be purchased. There’s work to do and things to buy. If you are volunteering, that is great. Volunteering is important. But your volunteer labor doesn’t keep the heat on or feed the poor. If you are part of the family you should do your part to support the family.
*Much of this content was taken (with permission) from Blackhawk Church's Generosity Booklet.