Giving has to do with much more than just the financial needs of the church.
Both the Old Testament and the New Testament are filled with teachings about the use of material resources. There is a very direct connection between our use of money and our development of the spiritual life. Jesus emphasized giving because He knew this would be an area where our hearts would struggle. At Gainesville First, we believe we are to give because it is part of our worship, part of experiencing joy and life to the full. It is ultimately a matter of grace and freedom. Here are some of the things we as a church hold about giving that may help as you consider your commitment to GFUMC in the coming year.
It begins with 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.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” - Matthew 6:19-21
What is the motivation for giving?
THE BIBLE GIVES A NUMBER OF REASONS WHY CHRISTIANS SHOULD GIVE THEIR MONEY, BUT ABOVE ALL ELSE, WE GIVE BECAUSE IT IS A NATURAL RESPONSE TO THE GOSPEL OF GOD'S GRACE.
Because God has given us his Son, it is only fitting that we should offer ourselves as sacrifices to him (Romans 12:1), and specifically in part by giving our money (2 Corinthians 8:8-9). We do not give fearfully in order to receive God’s grace, but joyfully because we have already received God’s grace. For this reason, all Christians — not just the wealthy — are called to practice radical gospel generosity.
What is 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.
In both testaments tithers are called beyond tithing to mercy, justice and freewill giving in response to God’s grace (2 Corinthians 9:7). Faithful tithing can even mask selfishness or legalism. 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).
How can we find freedom in this area?
THE APOSTLE PAUL SAYS, “EACH MAN SHOULD GIVE WHAT HE HAS DECIDED IN HIS HEART TO GIVE, NOT RELUCTANTLY OR UNDER COMPULSION” (2 CORINTHIANS 9:7). THERE IS A LIBERTY OF CONSCIENCE IN CHRISTIAN GIVING.
But its purpose is not to indulge selfishness but, rather, to cultivate voluntary generosity by God’s people. This is a sort of freedom unfamiliar to the Old Testament Israelites. It is the freedom of a changed heart experiencing a lifestyle of generosity, rather than a moment of “feel good” giving that may wither and fade. We are able to obey God in freedom because “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).
Why do we pledge?
A PLEDGE IS MERELY A PROMISE TO GIVE A DESIGNATED AMOUNT WITHIN A DESIGNATED PERIOD OF TIME.
If at any time you want to change the level of your giving or to stop giving, you are free to do so. We ask for pledges to allow people to set clear goals for their yearly giving and the church leadership to plan and budget. This is consistent with the biblical emphases on true faith in God (Luke 12:22-34) and planning (1 Corinthians 16:2) in Christian giving. Please consider this carefully and prayerfully.
What if financial hardship prohibits me from making a commitment this year?
Don’t let your inability to give at this time keep you from church. Remember that God honors your faithfulness and your acceptance is not based upon your capacity to give. If you are experiencing financial hardship, be sure to let our pastoral staff know of your situation so they can pray for and support you.