In addition to our statement of core beliefs, the Elders of Faith Church have adopted position statements on specific issues that we have found to be important in the arena of stewardship and generosity. You may have a disagreement or question with one or more of these statements, as some of them are difficult issues on which Christians disagree. These statements reflect our current understanding of what the Bible teaches with regard to this important dimension of our life and worship. (The following statements are adapted from www.GenerousGiving.org.)
- Wealth. Money itself is morally neutral, a medium for the exchange of goods and services. But because human beings are sinful in their attitudes toward money, large amounts of it are spiritually dangerous. Wealth makes it hard for a person to enter the kingdom of God (Luke 18:24) because people are so strongly tempted to love it (1 Timothy 6:10). But the mere fact of wealth is not itself sin. The sin lies in a person’s attitude toward and use of wealth, not in the possession of it. We are to be content with the wealth God gives us, not anxious to have more.
- Prosperity. The Bible teaches that there is a general connection between faithfulness to God and prosperity in this life (Proverbs 12:21), but not a one-to-one correspondence (Psalm 73:1-14). In addition, there is a special connection between generosity and prosperity (2 Corinthians 9:6) which exists for the particular purpose of further generosity (2 Corinthians 9:11). To those who give generously, God gives more. But what he gives is seed, which is meant to be re-sown.
- Poverty. There are several reasons why God chooses to allow poverty (1 Samuel 2:7). Some kinds of poverty are directly related to our own behavior (Deuteronomy 28:48, Proverbs 14:23). Others simply happen to us, and many of these cases are manifestly unjust. Therefore, while no human life is worth more or less than any other (Exodus 30:15), the poor do have a special place in God’s affections (Luke 6:20), because God is not blind to the unjust economic realities of the world (Psalm 140:12). Even the Lord Jesus himself was poor, and Christians should not consider it a dishonor to be poor in this life (Luke 9:58).
- Stewardship. Stewardship is a lifestyle based on the biblical belief that God is the rightful owner of everything (Psalm 24:1) and that we are stewards or caretakers of his world, responsible to do with it what he wants done. Biblical stewardship includes many aspects, including ecology, physical fitness, personal finance, use of one’s abilities and more—even the gospel itself. But of all the various aspects of stewardship, the Bible frequently singles out financial generosity as the one most representative of a person’s heart (Matthew 6:19-21).
- The Tithe. The tithe, a one-tenth offering of the first and best of one’s income from the promised land, is merely one aspect of giving in the Old Testament. The law taught three tithes totaling about 23.3 percent of one’s income, but in both testaments tithers are called beyond tithing to mercy, justice and freewill giving in response to God’s grace (2 Corinthians 9:7). Tithing can even mask selfishness or legalism. Since most Christians can and should give far more than one-tenth, mere tithing becomes a tool to avoid the more difficult pursuit of justice and mercy with our wealth (Matthew 23:23). God’s standard for our generosity is not a percentage; it is obedience to the radical command to love others as we love ourselves, imitating the pattern of Jesus’ radical sacrifice on our behalf (2 Corinthians 8:9; John 13:34; 1 John 3:16-18).
- Eternal Reward. As part of his gospel of grace, God promises to reward believers for their good works (Ephesians 6:8), including generous giving (Matthew 19:21). These eternal rewards are gifts of divine grace, having no human merit of their own, and their biblical purpose is not to provoke us to greed but to encourage us to persevere in obedience. God promises to reward us “according to what we have done” (Matthew 16:27), so there is a principle of correspondence. But the parable of the vineyard-workers (Matthew 20:1-16) makes it clear that the divine economy is no mere tit-for-tat calculation. And in the end, whatever other rewards he chooses to give, God himself is the one great reward of every Christian.