Subtitle: Sharing Financial Resources in the Body of Christ
This posting is for those who desire to cease supporting religious institutions, preferring instead to begin sharing their financial resources with individuals in the Body of Christ. Note: This posting is not a solicitation for money!
In addition, I assume that the giver has their finances in order; you know how much you have available to give without compromising your ability to support yourself and your family.
Please read Acts 20:34, 35
Paul is addressing the Elders of Ephesus regarding his work and their work in the Body of Christ at Ephesus. While he served among the elders and believers, Paul supported himself AND those who he brought with him to help in this service. By his manner of life, he was an example to the elders and the believers. They are charged to conduct their lives in the same way. Supporting yourself and your service in the Body of Christ without becoming a financial burden to the Body of Christ is how we (those who serve) are to conduct ourselves. Finally, Paul expresses that this kind of living helps the weak and is a fulfillment of Jesus' words, "…it is more blessed to give than to receive."
Note what is not stated in these verses; there are no promises, there are no orders or directives, there is no solicitation for personal support or gain. Paul and Jesus are the examples of serving and giving. Both gave of themselves without regard to the response of those they served. There was no hidden agenda or ulterior motive in their service or giving. Paul and Jesus both served and gave as they walked by the spirit, by revelation. They are our examples.
For the individual believer who desires to serve and give in the Body of Christ, the first principles are clear. Support yourself (which includes your family and extended family of believers) first. If you are serving with other individuals, contribute to the support of each other as well. After that consider contributing financially to others in the Body of Christ, then to others outside the Body of Christ. Of course this is not law, nor is it a formula or recipe.
The intent and attitude of financial giving is important. Observe the lives of Paul and Jesus, how they served. As stated before, there was no hidden agenda or ulterior motive in their service. So it is with giving financial assistance to others. Giving with conditions and restrictions or lending is not prohibited. However, these are in the realm of financial transactions, not giving as is being discussed here.
Throughout my life as a believer, I have given to individuals many times and I have assisted others with this subject. Harboring hidden agendas or hidden expectations as to the result of the giving can have dreadful consequences. When the response of the receiver is not in accordance with the expectations of the giver, it can result in a poisoning of the relationship. Quarreling, bitterness, hurt and anger can and has been the result for both the giver and the receiver. If the giver cannot give unconditionally it would be better not to give at all. When you give, make sure that everyone involved knows that there are "no strings attached".
Paul and Jesus served and gave as they walked by the spirit. Walking by the spirit, revelation, is the best way to give. It usually does not require a lot of time to decide whether to share of your finances or not. You do not have to go "pray about it". Most of the time it is a matter of getting quiet enough to hear the voice of God; then you know. If you are married it may be best to decide as a couple. I have consulted my wife on many occasions; I have learned that if we are not in agreement right away, then the answer is "no". That is the way it is in my life.
Don't give away what you need to live on, your housing, food, utility bills, etc. You are not required to give financially to anyone outside of those who you are directly responsible for. In the financial realm you are NOT "your brother's keeper". Additionally, the need of the person you give to does not determine the amount you give. If you choose to give, you give of what you are able to give. Once that amount is gone, your giving is done until you have received more to give. There are times when I have replied to a request, "…my giving is all allocated for now."
Don't give to someone who uses scripture to intimidate you to give them money. Refuse to do it. This is an improper and twisted use of scripture. The devil excels at using your good qualities against you, particularly your respect for scripture and your love for God. You are not obligated to support or contribute to family members who are involved in drug or alcohol abuse. Refuse to give to them as well.
Finally, get used to the fact that you will make mistakes in your service and in your financial giving. It's going to happen more than once. Learn from these mistakes and keep moving. There is no condemnation! As you learn how to walk by the spirit in the financial category of life you will find that much good can be done with these resources in the Body of Christ.
Leave a comment, or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
(C)2012 Keith S. Radcliffe