Common Questions and Clear Answers
What is Christian stewardship?
“Each of you, as a good manager of God’s gifts, shall use for the good of others the special gifts you have received from God.” (I Peter 4:10) Stewardship is using with integrity and faithfulness the gifts that God has given. As Christians, we are to pray daily, attend worship regularly, give sacrificially and serve faithfully.
What is the goal of giving?
To declare that Jesus is Lord of our lives! It is by trusting Christ fully with our lives that we discover the joy and wonder of God’s love – and no matter what we say or what we do, we do not really trust until we trust Him with our finances. In other words, we give so that we might truly open our hearts to the power and love of our Lord.
Often the Bible promises that right living leads to God’s increased presence in our lives. Proverbs 11:25 pledges, “He that watereth shall be watered himself.” This does not mean that we give in order to receive. Rather, we affirm the truth of Jesus’ teaching, that “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 5:21). We give, knowing that as we put the Master first in our lives, we become open to the transforming power and presence of the living God.
What is a tithe?
The Scriptures teach that we are to give God our tithes and offerings. The “tithe” or “tenth” is our basic obligation to God. It is 10% of our income returned to God from all that He has given us. The Bible emphasizes (Malachi 3:8-10) that this is our minimum responsibility to the God who gives us everything. The “offering” represents special gifts made to worthy causes over and above the tithe. Depending upon the blessings we have received, many will want to give beyond the tithe.
Is the tithe figured before or after taxes?
The Bible states that the tithe comes from the “first fruits of the harvest.” (Deuteronomy 26:2)
Does the tithe include gifts given to other groups, schools or charities?
No. These gifts are “offerings” and are made over and above our tithe. While there are many worthy causes expressing Christian values and deserving our support, there is only one institution on earth which exists explicitly to lift up the Name of the One who is the source of all those values: the church. Unless the gospel of Christ is proclaimed in consistent and powerful ways through a community of believers, all of the other “good causes” will eventually crumble.
Does First Methodist Houston require its members to tithe?
The tithe can seem an impossible goal to new Christians. In that case, we are to decide to tithe, and then let God show us how! The journey starts as we become percentage givers. We commit to God a set percentage of our income, making that commitment a top priority in our spending, and growing from there.
How do we find a starting place for percentage giving?
We choose a percentage we can live with, but which involves sacrifice. A helpful question to ask is: if the IRS audited my finances, could the auditor tell by looking at my checkbook that Jesus is my Lord? A five percent pledge represents only five pennies out of each dollar God gives. After starting on this spiritual ladder we are then to grow as Christ leads us on, with a goal of becoming at least tithers. A helpful guide is the Two Percent Principle: increasing our giving by two percent of our income each year.
Why sign a covenant commitment?
For two reasons:
First, the act of making an individual commitment to Christ is a key element in developing spiritual maturity. Signing a covenant means promising Christ to make Him a priority in our lives, and then keeping the promise. If necessary, the commitment can always be adjusted up or down as the year goes along.
Second, it is the only way the church can be run with appropriate fiscal responsibility. If our church leaders do not have a good idea of what kind of support to expect, they cannot adequately plan and coordinate the ministries necessary to serve our members or effectively reach out to the world.
Why make such a big deal out of this?
Because Jesus did! He talked five times as much about money as He did about prayer, because until we have given God control of our finances we have not really surrendered control of our lives to Him. Our attitude toward money will either be a major barrier between us and God, or a means of growing in grace. Remember: keeping the tithe, as the Bible teaches, is essentially a matter of the heart and not the wallet!