Continuing our little series of thoughts dealing with Stewardship. We began with the thought that the giving Christian gives faithfully. Then we considered the fact that the giving Christian gives compassionately and last month that the giving Christian gives gracefully. This month we will consider the fact that the giving Christian gives proportionately and next month we will see how the giving Christian gives globally.
We hear Jesus promise us again in Luke 6:38, "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." With that promise in mind, I would like to share with you the fourth thought in our series dealing with the fact that the giving Christian gives proportionately.
St. Paul wrote, "And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will.” (2 Corinthians 8:1-5)
The young churches of Macedonia were persecuted severely and were materially poor, yet spiritually they lived above the extreme conditions and excelled in giving it their all. Specifically, they gave to a ministry project that the Apostle Paul had begun and they gave in a most remarkable way: sacrificially. Beyond their ability, willingly and eagerly. They gave of themselves to God and of their resources to God's work.
A powerful principle of stewardship is this: God's provision dictates the believer's proportion. In other words, what He provides determines what we give. If He gives a little, from that little we are to give; if He gives abundantly (and that is how He has blessed each of us), from that abundance we are to give. Whatever He provides, regardless of how small or great we or the world may think it is, determines the measure of our giving. As Jesus reminded the disciples, "To whom much is given, much is required." (Luke 12:48)
Don't worry about what you have or don't have to give. Instead, give in proportion to everything you have received. My personal conviction is that giving begins with the tithe (10% of all my time, talents, treasures, tissue, testimony, touch, trash, and technology) and extends beyond that to a higher percentage returned to God from all that He has given to me, and even beyond that to other offerings for the work outside of the church. As we give, relying upon the Lord and depending upon Him as our source, we grow in the grace of giving. In the process giving becomes a beneficial experience as we die to self and grow in faith. My dear friends, we can be sure that God will provide as the proportion of His provision defines the proportion of our giving.