Matthew 6:19-21 says, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” The means of giving has to do with what we give and how we give, not simply just giving money to the church. There are several ways in which we can lay up treasures in Heaven. In his book, the treasure principle, Randy Alcorn lays out three basic areas of giving. Those three areas of giving are well worth our consideration.
Our Time. As believers in Christ laying up treasures in Heaven, we must give of our time. One of the greatest principles of giving is understanding that everything we have is a gift from God. We are simply stewards of what God has given to us. The time we have on this earth is a sacred gift given to us by God. Therefore, our time should not be used selfishly, rather, it should be used wisely for the glory of God. When it comes to giving of our time, there are several principles we should consider.
First of all, we should invest time in our families. All throughout scripture we see an underlining principle related to the family. The home is one of the three major institutions established by God. The institutions ordained and created by God are the home, human government, and the church. The very first of these institutions that God created is the home. The home is a place where faith in Christ is demonstrated. Read Ephesians 5:22-33. The home is God’s great visual aid of the relationship between Christ and His church. The relationship between a husband and his wife is a picture of faith in Christ. A man and woman are to leave their father and mother and become one flesh. In other words, they are to leave their past life and begin a new life together. So it is when it comes to faith in Christ. One is to leave his or her past life and begin a new life with Christ. The home is a place where the Word of God is to be taught. Look at Deuteronomy 11:18-21. It is the responsibility of godly parents to teach their children the things of God and to raise them up to serve Him. With the theme in scripture relating to the importance of the home it is certainly correct to say that family must come first. When it comes to giving of our time, it begins by devoting time for our family.
Secondly, we should invest time in our church. The local church is where believers connect with one another as a family. The church should, in fact, be the center of community. The Christian family’s activities should be centered around their relationship with the local church where they attend. When it comes to investing time in our church there are two things to make note of. First of all, we should be present. Hebrews 10:25 makes it very clear that we are not to forsake our assembly together. Based on this passage it cannot be denied that neglecting the house of God is a sin. Yes, God is a God of grace and He knows and understands when circumstances or physical ailments keep us from God’s house. However, when we are physically able to attend church and we simply choose not to, we are living in violation of God’s Word. You cannot invest your time in your church if you are not there. The second thing to make note of is that we should serve the Lord in and through our church. The Bible teaches us that we have all been given spiritual gifts that are to be used for the edifying or the building up of the church body. 1 Corinthians 12:25 tells us that the purpose of our spiritual gifts is so that every member of the church body would be ministered to and cared for. Being a part of a local church family includes contributing to the growth of the church by using the gifts that God has given us.
A final principle to consider when it comes to giving our time is that we should invest in the mission of the church. In addition to serving within the church for the purpose of strengthening the church body, we should also partner and cooperate with the church in fulfilling its mission to reach the world with the Gospel. This may include participating in evangelistic outreaches, mission trips, special projects, and personal evangelism.
When it comes to giving our time, it must be understood that the time we have on this earth does not belong to us. It belongs to the Lord. We are to live every moment of our lives for His glory and to fulfill His purposes.
Our Talents. Not only are we to be good stewards of time by investing time in our families, the church, and the mission; we are also to use our talents for the glory of the Lord. We all have certain abilities in addition to our spiritual gifts that can be given for the building of God’s kingdom. Those talents may be used in various ways. Perhaps it is to help someone in need that needs work done on their house and does not have the handyman skills that you have. Perhaps it is using your love for sports and your athletic ability and experience to invest in the lives of young people. Maybe you’re a good cook and you can prepare a meal for someone who just came home from the hospital. The list is exhaustive and the ideas are endless. There are many ways in which you can invest in others and in God’s kingdom by using the talents that God has blessed you with.
Our Treasure. Last, but not least, we are to give of our treasures. This is where monetary giving comes in. Look at 2 Corinthians 8:1-6. Paul shares with the Corinthian church how the Macedonian church was so faithful in their giving. He encourages the Corinthian church to do the same. Giving starts in and through the local church. As believers in Christ, we are to pull our resources together to enhance and expand the ministry and outreach of the local church we attend. Giving to your local church enables the church to do the following: (1) To support more missions. The more we give to our local church, the greater the missions budget increases and the more missionary and mission organizations are supported, and the spread of the Gospel increases. (2) To enhance the ministry of the church. Our giving enables the church to fund its discipleship, evangelism, and benevolent ministries. It also enables the church to support their pastor and to support quality staff that contributes to the overall ministry and growth of the church. (3) To care for the house of God. The facilities where we meet are an important part of the life and ministry of the church. The facilities serve as a hub for evangelism, discipleship, and community life. It is imperative that we take good care of the facilities God blesses us with and seek to develop the facilities in a way that enhances the overall ministry of the church. (4) To care for others. As a church family we are to care for one another and for those in our community who have needs. The more we give to our local church, the more we are able to help others in time of need.
As we grow in our walk with God, our giving is enhanced. The closer we are to the Lord the more we find ourselves giving our time, talents, and treasures. My God help us all to develop a giving heart as we grow in Him.