What Does The Bible Say About Giving?
Friday, Feb. 17, 2017
“Where your treasure is there will your heart be also.” (Matt 6:21) These words of Jesus have resonated within the hearts of people for 2,000 years.
What was Jesus talking about?
The Scriptures have no less than 2,350 verses dealing with money. Jesus speaks more about money than any other topic, including heaven, hell, prayer and salvation. The message is clear: What we do with our money is a very spiritual thing and an indicator of what is in our hearts.
In an often misquoted verse, St. Paul the Apostle writes, “the love of money is the root of all evil.” (1 Tim 6:10) St. Paul teaches that our Lord realizes we have needs to meet in order to live and to carry out his work. God is, however, a loving God who desires our full commitment with nothing else taking precedence over him in our lives. That is why the Apostle Paul warns his first century congregation that the love of money is evil.
All that we have is on loan from God. It is all a gift. What we do with our time, talent and treasure will have to be given account of on the last day. The great sin of disobedience by Adam in the Garden of Eden was the abuse of his gift of stewardship.
In the Book of Genesis, the mysterious paradigmatic priest of priests Melchizedek appears to perform one task alone: to collect the tithe from Abraham and to thus confer a blessing upon him on behalf of the Lord. This clearly shows that Abraham in his righteousness before God gave of his first fruits (his best fruits) unto the Lord and in turn was blessed. This is precisely what God is calling us to do. We as faithful Catholics are called upon to give sacrificially of our best resources, not our leftovers.
When we become burdened with a mindset of materialism (i.e. non-stewardship focused giving) we become slaves to money instead of our money being our servant for the promotion of God’s Kingdom. This clearly is not what God intended. King Solomon, who was the richest and wisest man of all time, expressed his feeling of the emptiness of materialism when he said, “vanity of vanities, it is all a bubble that bursts.”
These principles not only apply to the individual Christian, but to the life of a parish. Jesus is clear in the New Testament when he says that he would build and grow the Church, and that the task at hand for believers is to make disciples who are followers of Jesus. That is what the core culture of a parish and a diocese should be. That is what the ultimate focus of any and all monetary collections should be – making disciples.
The Church is a missionary body, and its mission field is the whole world. But the aim of its missionary activity is not merely to convey to people certain convictions or ideas, not even to impose on them a definite discipline or a rule of life, but first of all to introduce them into the new reality, to convert them, to bring them through faith and repentance to Christ. The Holy Father put it this way: “It is a journey that begins with a spiritual conversion.”
To know the spiritual state and strength of a congregation, just look at its stewardship report. Invariably, it tells it all because what people do with their money reflects what is in their hearts. We make disciples by presenting people to Jesus through preaching, teaching, the sacramental life, and outreach ministries. It is to this end that our giving should be focused. If the church does its job, Jesus has promised to be faithful and do his part. Sacrificial giving for the Christian is not an option, but a joyful privilege.
The essence of Church ministry is not buildings, budgets and bodies, but rather the Church should be viewed first and foremost as the family of God, not as a corporation or business. When that happens, the Bible tells us that God’s presence and blessing will be manifest in the local community because its focus is on Jesus, the author of our salvation.
With these things in mind, proper Christian stewardship for individuals and parishes should include the following principles: 1) acknowledging that everything comes from God; 2) giving should be sacrificial; 3) giving should be of one’s first fruits.
If we incorporate these principles into our lives and the life of our parish, the Lord has promised to do mighty works in our life and in the lives of those around us. A proper understanding of stewardship is not a luxury but a requirement, a blessing. To be truly “the people of God” is to take up the mantle and responsibility of faithful Christian stewardship.
John Kaloudis is the director of the Diocese of Salt Lake City Office of Stewardship.