A review of New Testament passages on giving to the Lord's work. 'Is the new generation of converts missing the mark in the stewardship of their means? Have we become a spoilt generation, so used to the current high standard of living that we are not willing to give as believers used to do?' So asks the author of this booklet, which studies christian stewardship under a series of helpful headings, beginning with the principle - 'All we have is the Lord's'. So much spiritual blessing is lost when stewardship fails. The author seeks to draw Christians into the full blessing of giving themselves wholly to the Lord.
‘But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee’ (1 Chronicles 29.14).
Over thirty years ago, my wife and I used to visit a dear old Christian woman who had become too weak to live by herself, and had to move into a home for the elderly. She lived so frugally and had so little in the pantry that one would have thought her penniless. But when trusted friends went to wind up her rented flat and pack up her few possessions, they found in drawers and cupboards, here and there, envelopes full of banknotes, designated for various missionaries. It was clear that almost all she had, after paying the rent and basics, was given to the Lord, for her whole heart was for him and his work.
This was not an isolated incident, for years ago one often stumbled across indications of the devoted stewardship of elderly believers, however poor. Older pastors everywhere will no doubt echo this experience. Has that era of self-denying love now passed?
Today we have so much. Our youngest earners drive cars of a newness and quality that their peers of the ’70s and ’80s could not even dream about. Our newly-weds generally start with all the appliances, and more, that their parents had to acquire gradually on the long march to middle age. Yet, from what we hear, churches and pastors around the country frequently struggle financially, and disturbingly few missionaries are supported these days. Sizeable constituencies of churches finance a handful between them, when one would have expected many individual congregations to be capable of wholly supporting a couple each.
Are Christians less committed than they used to be? Is the new generation of converts missing the mark in the stewardship of their means? Have we become a spoilt generation, unwilling to part with much for the Lord? If so, then we hurt ourselves and forfeit tremendous spiritual instrumentality. May the Lord bless to our hearts this review of some of the verses in the New Testament that teach the duties and blessings of stewardship on the part of God’s people.
We are using the term stewardship rather than tithing, because the latter (meaning the payment or giving of a tenth) is a Jewish obligation, and nowhere in the New Testament is it mentioned as a duty of Christians. The rule of the New Testament is that giving should be related to our means (‘as God hath prospered him’) and not that it should necessarily be exactly a tenth. For very many believers it may be much more than a tenth. We shall see, however, that the Old Testament tenth is a good suggested minimum for the people of God in every age.
This booklet will review a number of New Testament texts, each of which presents some aspect of stewardship, including the believer’s attitude, God’s objectives, the proportion of the gift, and important practical guidance.