Giving Giving a New Thought
Every January, we talk about giving - your financial support of the ministries of Grace Fellowship Church, which goes along with all the other ways you help Grace be a church for God's own purpose. Without us coming together financially, we wouldn't have the capacity to do the ministries we do.
We schedule this discussion for January year after year because:
- We don’t want to ignore the topic (I’m often too shy about it).
- We don’t want it to come during the budget cycle, as if we were trying to manipulate anyone.
- January is a great time because that's when most of us are making plans for the coming year anyway.
Maybe this is too infrequent, and maybe we’ll need to revisit this before next January, but I want to say a little bit here. I haven't yet found the place for this conversation in one of our Sunday morning messages for this January, but here's basically what I'm going to say:
In the Christian life, we trust Holy Spirit to make the deep changes in us. We don’t make those changes by the sure power of our self-determination. We are changed by the Holy Spirit, or we are not really changed at all. So, we often teach on trusting the Spirit to keep making those changes in us for our spiritual growth and increasing in Christlikeness.
We also teach trust that God will provide (for our church and our families). It's not our generosity as much as His provision that equips Grace for ministry, worship, and developing relationships. And we thank Him for the provision He's provided year after year.
Plus, we trust that God wants to do something specific in us. He has generously poured out his Spirit upon us because He wants Grace Fellowship to thrive as He defines thriving. If we didn't trust that, we really don't have much reason to be a family.
If we pray consistently in 2020 and allow the Holy Spirit to complete us in Christ, we'll end up giving financially according to God’s desire. We won't give rightly any other way. And if we're not giving as we ought, focusing on giving won't correct it. Focusing on the Spirit’s deep work in us will result in all kinds of fruitful living, such as right giving.
So, our giving plan for 2020 must be a plan to trust the Holy Spirit to continually transform our hearts - not for the goal of giving, but for the greater goal of becoming more like Christ. Giving will take care of itself, in that case. That's our ideal for Grace!
I’m not at all saying people aren’t giving rightly now - by design, I never know who gives what. But for all of us who call Grace Fellowship home, our right giving will be a product of the Spirit's work in us toward the greater goal of discipleship. Therefore, we must pray in 2020 for the Holy Spirit to keep changing us in many ways, including our giving.
As we pray to see our giving increase in 2020, another thing that needs to happen is for our church family to increase in the number of households who call Grace home. Therefore, this is another area where we need the Holy Spirit to do some deep work in all of us - asking the Spirit to make us to be more and more the kind of people who invite others to join our family - especially those who don’t yet know Jesus.
In Acts 5, when Ananias and Sapphira chose to not give as they knew the Lord wanted them to, Peter treated it as a spiritual issue. "Why did you lie to the Holy Spirit?" This is not about the amount that we give, but about being transformed by Christ so that right giving is one of the many byproducts - whatever that amount is.
So, for our giving to be right in 2020, let's commit to growing spiritually together and praying together for the Spirit to work in us and through us. Let's pray for Him to change in us whatever He desires, including us reaching out to include others in our family. Let’s commit to surrendering more of our lives to the Holy Spirit, giving him access to the stuff we're holding back from Him. We tend to hold back what we're afraid of losing. And so we need trust in God’s Spirit to do deep work in us.