By Frank Vondracek
In our day and time, whenever we decide to do something, one of the usual considerations is the availability of money. Whether it is some daily need or family responsibility or something new or a repair needed or a place to go, money is usually required. And for the most part, none of us ever seems to have enough money to do all that we must and want to do. But, on the other hand, most of the time most of us have what money we really need. I believe God sees to this and blesses us in this way as long as we "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness" (Mt 6:33), and that we don't "trust in riches" (Mark 10:24) as did the rich young ruler. For a person who is not seeking the things of God first, then I cannot say with certainty where his money comes from!
But let's get back to where and when money is needed. Money is needed in the church of God. If this were not true, then there would not be any teachings in the New Testament concerning the church and its need and use for resources, including money. But we have such teachings. We read that a weekly collection was commanded and taken up in the local churches each first day of the week during the first century (1 Cor 16:1-2). Every member had the same teaching directed to him or her by the Holy Spirit. We read that this money was used for helping needy saints, and also to give wages to preachers (Phil 4:10-16). So the church then had need for money, and that need continues today towards the work of the local church.
In our time, the prevalence of church buildings requires funds to construct and maintain or rent these meeting places. Just like with any family dwelling, there are constant, regular bills to be paid. But so much more important than any building is the work of the church which meets in those places. Jesus has given order to His church to preach the gospel throughout the world (Mark 16:15-16), teach and train itself the word of God for the equipping of the saints unto ministry (Eph 4:11-16), and to take care of members of the body of Christ who cannot meet their own needs for legitimate reasons (Acts 4:32-35). Much of the time, money is needed to accomplish these works. And the money is to be solicited from EACH and EVERY member of the local church (1 Cor 16:1-2): "Let every one of you lay by him in store, as God has prospered him...". In order that sufficient funds are available for the needs, the work must be carefully and fully considered and planned out. Then the congregation, every member, should be regularly informed of the planned efforts, and the costs. This is not normally done with routine and mundane expenses (utility bills, insurance, building supplies) except for a posted financial statement. But it would be well to inform the members of any large and unusual expenses. As with all other areas of the development of Christians, there is usually room for growth in the matter of giving.
No church needs a bank account of unused funds just for the sake of money for a "rainy day". Wisdom dictates that care should be used in handling the contributed monies, and waste and unnecessary use avoided. The whole point is to see that the work of the Lord gets done to the best possible completeness and conclusion. While there is a difference in the prosperity levels within every congregation, there should be equity in giving among the members. It is not right to leave the bulk of the giving to just a few "well off" members. The Lord commands and expects EACH member to contribute in the same manner and degree—"as God has prospered him." This is where the equity in giving is to be found, and not necessarily in the amount each one gives. No one can tell another how much he should give, but the Lord Jesus has the right to do so, and He has said, "as God has prospered him".
God has given us some other guidelines for giving, too. In 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, we are taught to give with purpose of heart, cheerfully without constraint and liberally. But there is one other guideline that seems really to be the most essential to scriptural giving - "but first gave themselves to the Lord" (2 Cor 8:5). It is easy to spot spiritually minded Christians from those who are yet carnal: Just talk with them awhile! The carnally minded will talk about anything and everything except spiritual things. But a spiritually alive Christian will spend but little time on anything else aside from spiritual things. That doesn't mean the other matters are not important to him, but his emphasis is on the spiritual. I once suggested this in a sermon. Afterwards, two of the most carnally minded brothers were overheard, all of a sudden, to be discussing which study Bible would be the best one to buy and use. Well, that is a good topic for students of the Bible to discuss. But those two men were better known to discuss "grass, cars and the weather" than anything of a spiritual nature. I think this illustrated my point. If our spirituality is only "put on" and superficial, then what do we have except hypocrisy?
So it is with spiritually alive saints when it comes to giving. Such a Christian will give regularly, liberally, with purpose and cheerfully, as he has been prospered by God. Such a Christian does not consider himself "out of money to give after bills are met." He will pay his bills out of what remains to budget AFTER giving to God's work. This may seem unreasonable, and by some, even harsh. But I still believe it is in agreement with what the Bible teaches. And I don't agree that it is unreasonable or harsh.
Christians must be learning always what it means to "walk by faith." Whereas the people of the world walk by sight, that cannot remain the form of spiritual locomotion for the child of God.
There is a promise from God attached to His instructions to His children for giving scripturally. It goes like this - "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work" (2 Cor 9:8). By His will, God continues to prosper each of His children who continues to give their money back to Him. As has been said, "God's pockets are always fuller and deeper than His children's."
Frank Vondracek is a former engineer who started preaching full time in mid-1983. He has preached with churches in Ohio, Illinois, Iowa and Kentucky. He served as one of the elders with the Kimberly Road church in Davenport, Iowa. He presently preaches for the church in Tompkinsville, KY. He also has been involved in preaching the gospel in Kenya, East Africa since 1996. He can be contacted at email@example.com.