We Give Thee But Thine Own...

It's not something people usually like to talk about, but finances are part of the reality of this world and of the church's work. Maintaining buildings where we can gather for public worship, providing for those called to make gospel ministry their full-time work, and supporting the spread of the gospel in our communities and around the world are just a few of the ways our church offerings are used.

Scripture guides us in our perspective towards money. First of all, we want to remember that money is not God. We might not build altars in our homes and literally bow down to the dollar, but it can be easy to let money—and other possessions, pastimes, or even people—become an idol in our hearts when we put our trust in it instead of in our Savior.

"No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." Matthew 6:24 (NIV)
Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have. For God has said: I will never leave you, and I will never forsake you. Hebrews 13:5

Secondly, Scripture reminds us that everything we have in life is really a gift from God. We can consider ourselves as stewards, or managers, of these gifts. God gives us these gifts for a variety of purposes: to provide for our families, to support those in need, to pay taxes, and even for leisure and recreation. Supporting the work of the church is one aspect of good stewardship—not only of our treasures, but our time and talents too.

[The Lord] opens his hand, and he satisfies the desire of every living thing. Psalm 145:16
Every good act of giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the lights, who does not change or shift like a shadow. James 1:17
Serve one another, each according to the gift he has received, as good stewards of the many forms of God's grace. 1 Peter 4:10

Members of St. Paul are encouraged to consider carefully what they will set aside as an offering. There's no set amount we have to give. God wants us to give cheerfully and within our means. It's an offering of thanksgiving, not an obligation.

Each one should give as he has determined in his heart, not reluctantly or under pressure, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7
Give thanks to the Lᴏʀᴅ, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever. Psalm 118:1

As we plan our budgets, we are encouraged to keep this guidance from Scripture in mind, and to give in recognition of God's love—bringing our firstfruits to Jesus, "the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep." 1 Corinthians 15:20

We give thee but thine own, whate'er the gift may be;

all that we have is thine alone, a trust, O Lord, from thee.

May we thy bounties thus, as stewards true receive

and gladly, as thou blessest us, to thee our firstfruits give.

(CW 750)