We Give to Honor God's Character (Proverbs 3:9-10)
In Christ, the extravagant generosity of our Heavenly Father is made manifest (Ephesians 1:3). In Christ, every Christian who ever lived was given infinitely more than he/she deserved (Romans 6:23). In Christ, our lives and lifestyles now have eternal significance (Psalm 90:17). In Christ, giving is our safest investment (Matthew 6:19-21). In Christ, our duty to give becomes an incredible privilege (2 Corinthians 8:1-4). And in Christ, through the work of the Holy Spirit, we can expect increasingly generous hearts (2 Corinthians 9:11).
Because God has not been silent when it comes to our money and possessions, every spending decision has spiritual ramifications. Every dollar — whether spent, saved, or given — accomplishes something. And this reality requires that we slow down, examine our hearts, and repent where necessary. Spending, saving, and giving can each be a spiritual act of worship, but worship will never be our default motivation while in the flesh. Even when the line seems blurry, this we can know: we are never more like Jesus than when we lay down our own self-interest for the sake of God's mission. Giving is a wonderful expression of Christlike death to self!
We are made in the image of a generous God, and we have more than just an obligation to give. In fact, we have more than just a desire to give. Essential to our new nature in Christ, our hearts have a need to give.
We Give to Receive God's Blessing (Malachi 3:10)
Mammon, the idol of material wealth, is an enemy of Christ and a danger to our souls. In Eden, God provided Adam and Eve with so much more than they needed, placing only one small limit upon their consumption (Genesis 2:16). In the wilderness, God provided the nation of Israel with abundant manna, asking only that they gather a day's portion each day (Exodus 16:4). In both cases, their trust in God was overpowered by the seductive nature of their individual desires.
Jesus wants us to live with complete and total security, so he won't allow us to find security in things that simply aren't secure (Matthew 6:19). Because our most valuable possession is already secure in Christ, giving is the safest investment we can make (Matthew 6:20). And giving is the only way to ensure that Mammon is dethroned within our consumeristic hearts.
"Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours." - C.S. Lewis
At Sojourn we're unashamed in asking for your money. But let's be clear: Our primary goal is not that we'd be a well-funded church; our primary goal is that we'd be a worshiping church! We want your money because God wants your heart! Although we may tend to view giving as a chore, we're actually being given an opportunity to image the generosity of Christ and be "rich toward God" (Luke 12:20-21). It's a chance to trust. And it's a chance to grow. Godly stewardship will yield godly character.
God has never needed our money (Psalm 50:10-12). But for reasons we cannot comprehend, He loves us and graciously invites us to take part in what He's doing throughout the earth! So in light of such a gracious offer, our bank statements have as much to say about our spiritual condition as the vitality of our prayers or the underlining in our bibles.
We Give to Join in God's Work (2 Corinthians 9:9-12)
According to Jesus, our hearts actually follow our treasure (Matthew 6:21). In other words, we end up loving what gets our money. Thus, God has called us to cultivate heartfelt affection for Him and His kingdom by placing our treasure in His kingdom work. Every resource is God's resource; we simply steward His things for the sake of His glory (1 Chronicles 29:11-12). And rest assured, He keeps excellent records.
As God's stewards, we know He expects us to invest, to seek everlasting returns (Matthew 25:14-30). And any investment requires faith. As the material needs of this world parade before us, a war rages in our hearts. It's a war that Jesus has already won. He won not by worldly power, but by a power manifested through weakness, foolishness, self-denial, and renunciation. His exaltation was resultant, the product of His humility (Philippians 2:5-11). Because only the dead can be resurrected.
To be sure, our use of money is a spiritual discipline. But too often, we view giving as an act of self-denial; we're primarily concerned with what we're sacrificing as individuals. So what if we began to see our giving in light of what's being gained? What if our personal abstinence were secondary to the priority of loving both God and neighbor with our finances? In the end, giving is gain!