“In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations…”
(2 Corinthians 8:2–5 NIV)
Giving money in church is something that many of us grew up with. By that I mean, that we know that during one of the hymns someone will pass a plate around the congregation and people will put a few coins on, maybe a note or an envelope containing their contribution. When I started attending church in the mid 1980s I would put £1 on the plate. As my faith grew and commitment I wanted to give more. When I learnt about the principle of tithing (giving a proportion, eg 10% of your income) to the church it was difficult as my, then, husband was not a Christian. When he did come to faith I was able to increase, with his approval, to £2 a week. We were on a fairly low income at the time with 2 young children. Then, in 1989 he had a conversion experience, started to read the bible and took it literally. If it said in the bible we should give 10% then that is what we should do. Yikes!!!!! There’s no way we could affor this!!! I was the one who took care of the household budget and I knew that we were struggling to make ends meet. However, being the obedient wife – after all I had prayed hard and long for him to come to faith so I could hardly complain – I agreed that is what we should do. And we managed. Some how there was always enough for what we needed. We didn’t have expensive holidays like other people, but I was happy knowing that we were obedient to God’s word and were contibuting realistically to the church.
Now, many years later, and many a ‘stewardship campaign’ under my belt as a vicar I know that some people do not give sacraficially and are stuck in the groove of giving £1 or maybe £2 per week when perhaps they could give more. I don’t know. Many people give of their time, their talents and don’t claim back for the things they buy for church. I am aware that my house, and my stipend, are paid for by the giving of the church members, and the wider church family. And I am grateful. Thanks to others’ giving I am able to do what God has called me to do without having to earn a living.
I still give approximately 10% of my income to charity – church and Christian charities. Today I checked and realised that we need to review and I started to increase. However, I give through the bank and most of the charities have a direct debit rather than a standing order. This means that I could only increase the amounts of the standing orders, not the direct debits. So I have increased some of them, but it was a pain to do and we will do a proper review of all our giving soon. This is better than a knee jerk reaction to an email.
Thank you to 40 Acts….. I have been meaning to review our giving for a while but not got around to it. Before the end of Lent, Terry and I will have reviewed. Perhaps we could take on sponsoring a child, which something we have both been involved with previously.
It’s been a long day, mainly taken up by a funeral in one of the villages. Very well attended – it was the lady who ran the village shop for many years and so the church was packed. I wished I had known her but by the time I moved in, she was already going from one hospital to another and was just a name on the prayer list….. my loss… God bless, Rose…. you were well loved and served the village with love. Xxx