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God's Cycle of Giving, Part 2

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by Buster Whitlock, Minister of Finance and Administration

In last week’s blog, we introduced the concept of God’s Cycle of Giving.  

The cycle begins with first acknowledging that everything we have belongs to God – our possessions, our talents, even our families and friends.  Since God is the Owner of all, he is also an abundant giver!  Thank the Lord that while God owns everything, he chooses, by his grace, to give us many good things.

While the first half of the cycle centers on God and his roles, the second half focuses on our response to God’s wonderful gifts.

3. We are Managers of God’s Gifts

"As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." 1 Peter 4:10

While God is the owner and giver of everything we possess, he instructs us to manage these gifts well – both to honor him and to serve others.  As the above verse notes, we are “stewards”, not owners.  A steward is one who manages the resources of the owner in a manner that would most please him.  As followers of Jesus, we are charged with making decisions with our time, money, possessions, and relationships that would most honor the Lord.

PUT IT INTO PRACTICE

Look at your calendar, your bank statement, and your relationships.  Do they reflect the Lord’s priorities, your own, or someone else’s? 

Remind yourself that these are God’s resources, not yours.  Remind yourself that he is trusting you to make decisions with time, possessions, and relationships that bring him the greatest honor.

How can you re-allocate your time and spending to better reflect the love of Jesus in all areas of your life?  What habits do you need to discard?  What habits do you need to begin?  How will you begin?  Write down your plan.

4. We Give Back to God

“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”  2 Corinthians 9:7-11

It is both our obligation and our joy to give a portion of our blessings to God’s work.  The tithe (literally “one-tenth”) is the standard we consistently see in the Scriptures.  It is seen before the Jewish law, mandated in the Jewish law, and confirmed by Jesus himself.

In my own experience, when I acknowledge that God is the ultimate owner, that he is the abundant giver, and that I am called to be a good manager of God’s blessings; then giving back to God can be an act of worship, not a chore.  It grows my faith and fuels my excitement for what God is doing through his church.  This also completes the cycle of giving that God has ordained.

God is Owner --> God is Giver --> We are Managers --> We are Givers

PUT IT INTO PRACTICE

Are you consistently giving back at least one-tenth of your income to the Lord’s work? If not, how can you change your spending habits so you can be more obedient to God in this area?  It’s not easy.  It may require saying no to things you currently enjoy so that you can say yes to things that have eternal significance. 

Most of us will need to develop a specific plan to accomplish this.  I wish you grace and diligence as you seek to love and obey God more closely in the coming year!

 

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in Giving

God's Cycle of Giving, Part 1

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by Buster Whitlock, Minister of Finance and Administration

I love the fall season, where the leaves are changing, crispness is in the air, and football is in full force!  Just as we enjoy the cycle of seasons throughout the year, I am reminded that God has set other cycles in motion as well.  One of these is God’s Cycle of Giving.

As we approach Pledge Sunday on November 15, this is the first of a 4-part series on giving. This week and next we'll look at God's Cycle of Giving. Weeks 3 and 4 I'll tackle some common questions about giving. 

1. God Owns Everything

“The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;” Psalm 24:1

God’s cycle of giving begins with God himself.  He is the ultimate owner of everything, including us.  When I feel like I am getting overly attached to my money or my stuff, I remind myself that everything I have belongs to God: my time, my bank account, even my wife and kids.  God owns it all.

When we understand that God owns everything, it keeps us from attaching ourselves to our stuff.  It’s okay to have stuff – and even to enjoy stuff – but when our lives are too tightly intertwined with our possessions, our values can get skewed, which leads to spiritually unbalanced decisions.

Put it into practice

Go outside and look at your car.  Tell yourself, “God owns that.”  Say it out loud.  Look at your house.  Say, “Lord, this is your house.”  Yes, it will feel a little odd, but allow the truth of these words to recalibrate your heart and mind.  Remind yourself that God is the owner of everything you have.

2. God is the Abundant Giver

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”  James 1:17

Everything we have not only belongs TO God, but it is a gift FROM God.  God is the ultimate giver!  This includes our time, talents, possessions – even life itself.  This does not discount our hard work, energy, or creativity that contributes to our success - God expects us to cultivate and leverage our gifts and talents.  It simply acknowledges that these attributes are blessings from the Lord.

God’s gifts are not limited to the physical, for as believers we have been given Jesus Christ himself as our Savior and Lord - as the forgiver of our sins and the leader of our lives.  We have also been given the Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen us for God’s work.  And ultimately, we have been given a home in heaven with him forever.  God is truly the ultimate giver!

Put it into practice

Grab a pen and paper.  Take an inventory of all the blessings God has given you – both physical and spiritual.  Think about your possessions, experiences, family, friends, talents, gifts, ministry opportunities.  Take your time.  As you write, allow yourself to be overwhelmed with a sense of God’s goodness and grace.

Next week, we will look at the other half of God’s Cycle of Giving.  I look forward to sharing these biblical truths and applications with you as we minister together in The Power of One!

 

photo credit: Amber Atkinson

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