Dear friends at Wellington,
In the previous letter I promised to provide a key concept for enabling you to get out of debt and to stay out of debt. During the class I intend to offer on the “Joy of Giving” beginning in January, I will be able to go into more detail on this as well as several other topics; however, for now let me simply say, getting out of debt, starts with making the Lord the priority of your life, and the second step involves giving to the Lord your firstfruits. No one can rob God then walk in fellowship with Him.
I encourage you to read Malachi 3:6-12, and consider the Lord's statements and promises to His people. While this text is speaking specifically to Israel, God's chosen nation in the O.T. for the preparation of Christ's coming, He begins the discourse with "I the Lord do not change." Though we are not Israel, we are God's "chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people" (1st Peter 2:9) established as such through our new birth in Christ.
Financial freedom is not a matter of chance, but a matter of choice. Having one’s priorities in order according to the Lord’s word is critical to living a balanced life.
The Lord always keeps His promises; however, it's important to realize there are two basic categories of promises. First, are those dealing with salvation and eternal life, and second, are the promises (both blessings and curses) dealing with life on earth. Under each of these categories, promises may be conditional or unconditional. Recognizing the difference, and reading His promises within their proper context is extremely important. For example, consider these passages:
"Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine." Proverbs 3:9-10
"Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you." Luke 6:38
"The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." 2nd Corinthians 9:6-7
Sometimes verses like these are used by health, wealth, and prosperity preachers who can easily mislead you into giving with wrong motives and greedy intentions. But a responsible study of all scripture reveals that God's people do not give from a motive for materialistic greed, but from hearts of gratitude knowing He has blessed them with "every spiritual blessing" (Eph. 1:3).
Also in the previous letter I promised to put forth “different degrees of giving” for your consideration. These concepts compare and illustrate giving as a growing process similar to the educational progress we make as we graduate from one level to the next.
- Kindergarten Giving: “sporadic, with no rhyme or reason”, when the offering is passed, you reach in your pocket with no forethought, and drop in a 5, 10, or 20 dollar bill and feel good about yourself. You give by compulsion because you think you are supposed to. After giving you say to yourself, "I’m glad I broke that big bill yesterday … I would have hated to put in too much."
- Grade School Giving: “disobedient tithing”, "Okay Lord, here is your 10%. I know I am supposed to give, so I'm doing it. Take your 10% and I’ll use the 90% the way I want, though it would have been nice to have spent 100% on the things I want. Wrong motive giving yields unfavorable spiritual growth.
- High School Giving: “obedient tithing” is when one cheerfully gives their firstfruits after having prayerfully considered, and measured what the Lord has given to them. “I desire to give You this tithe out of gratitude for what You have done for me. The 90% is Yours as well. You can ask for any portion of it and I'll gladly respond. Since everything I have comes from You I will continue to trust You as my Provider."
If you're a Christian without a high school diploma, enroll and begin working towards one today. The goal of every Christian is not to remain as a child but to graduate from high school in every aspect of their Christian life, not to earn favor from God but to learn and experience the Joy of Giving and the Blessings that come from Walking in Fellowship with Him.
- College Giving: “Sacrificial giving”, I want to give in such a way to demonstrate sacrifice to You Lord, giving beyond my tithe. If you already have a High School degree, ask the Lord about enrolling in college that your knowledge of Him and your relationship with Him might be enhanced and enriched.
- Graduate School Giving: “Faith Promise”, Lord, I'm already sacrificially giving all I can. I do not have anymore, but if any more comes my way I will rejoice and cheerfully give it to Your work. Not many go to graduate school but we should be ready to enroll if we are to continue to experience growth in our Christian life.
It is good that we celebrate the Christmas season by first focusing on the gift the Lord has given to us, His Son, Who willingly gave everything, including His atoning death for our redemption. As you share time and gifts with your family, friends, and those in need, I encourage you to count your blessings and consider how you may also honor Christ through your giving. We trust the Lord will sufficiently provide for Wellington thru your year-end giving so His work here can finish 2012 with a balanced budget and continue our work in discipleship in 2013. May the Lord richly bless you and your family as you continue to grow towards a balanced life in Christ that truly honors Him in all that you do!
Sincerely in Christ
Elder who oversees finance
Members of the finance committee: Juan Castro, Mike Guiler, Roy Hines, David Stewart