In the past I’ve written about the challenges involved in talking about money in British Evangelical circles. This includes
1. Socially, talk about money is considered off limits
2. The way that the Prosperity Gospel has poisoned the waters
3. The danger of legalistic views about tithing.
So I want to say a couple of positive things about money and giving
1. Money is not in itself bad. One of the most misquoted Bible verses is the one that says the love of money is the root of all evil. This means that money can become idolatrous. A generous attitude to giving may be a great guard against this but we should not give because we feel guilty about what we have.
2. Our understanding of giving starts with a general principle that we are stewards of everything we have. This is a principle going back to Genesis 1-3. God gives us everything to enjoy and look after
3. Joy and enjoyment are important principles – we are to glorify God and enjoy him forever so joy starts with knowing God. Money cannot give joy and happiness but someone who enjoys God will take pleasure in his good gifts and provision
4. We glorify God when we enjoy him and by enjoying him thankfulness and praise (Piper) but also implicitly the other way is true too – we enjoy God when we glorify him or by glorifying him
5. This leads to the point that we are stewards for a purpose, not selfish consumption but rather to seek God’s glory.
6. This means we show in the whole of our lives that we love him with our whole hearts. We use our time, talents, energy and our money to see the Gospel declared
7. This means that we similarly show with the whole of our lives love for neighbours. This love includes meeting practical needs but also and most importantly spiritual. We want them to hear the Gospel
8. This is not dualistic. The whole of life means my work, family life and even personal recreation. All of these should serve that purpose
9. However church and giving through the church is central because it encourages a sense of life together and body discernment. I am not individualistic
10. The aim is cheerful and generous giving