Stewardship our finances
As a church family, we believe that the only way to understand any aspect of life is to view it through the lens of the gospel. And the gospel speaks to the ever-present subject of money and wealth in many ways.
In 2 Corinthians 8:9, Paul discusses the effect the gospel should have on the way Christians understand wealth: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”
Seeing Christ’s sacrificial love for us, that he gave up everything so that we could inherit the riches of heaven, helps us develop a healthy attitude toward our material possessions and become people who are both generous and joyful.
The gospel also tells us that our deepest and most fundamental identity and happiness have nothing to do with our financial standing or status: but that whether we are rich or poor we are equally able to be content, satisfied, deeply fulfilled, secured men and women because our identity is rooted in God and his profound love for us.
Understanding the immense riches we have already received in Christ not only liberates us from excessive concern over our wealth, talents and time, but also motivates us to invest them in the eternal kingdom of God.
A steward is…
A steward is a person who has been entrusted with another’s resources and who seeks to manage those resources according to the owner’s vision and values.
The gospel calls us to recognize that everything we have is a gift from God — and that those gifts are to be used for His glory and to further His kingdom. Scripture even calls Christians caretakers of God’s gifts and truth (1 Peter 4:10; 1 Corinthians 4:1).
Scripture calls us to recognize that in addition to acting as responsible stewards of our talents and skills, opportunities and privileges we must also be stewards of our possessions and finances.
Those that Jesus has entrusted as stewards with his resources, He invites to come and ‘enter into the joy of the master’ (Matt 25). Stewarding God’s gifts to us in a way that glories Him and furthers His kingdom is not a burden to bear; it is one of the most joyful and liberating experiences, to live free from the allure of money and to experience the joy of being generous and open-handed.
Questions to consider
What is generosity?
Generosity is the natural, consistent, and occasionally spontaneous giving of our material possessions to God’s service and to our communities because of, and modeled after what Jesus Christ has done for us on the cross. As God “did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all” (Romans 8:32), so our posture toward God and others in response to his love should be one of cheerful sacrifice and generosity. Generosity starts with a heart-attitude which is opposite to miserliness; it is lavish and free.
What is stewardship?
A steward is a person who has been entrusted with, and who manages, another’s resources according to the owner’s vision and values. Each of us was created for stewardship by God (Genesis 1:28). A steward is both a ruler with authority to govern resources and a slave accountable to the owner of those resources. The New Testament calls Christians caretakers of God’s truths and gifts — even God’s grace (1 Corinthians 4:1; 1 Peter 4:10).
What is the basis for the tithe?
In the Old Testament, believers were required to give a tenth of their income to the support of the ministry and the needs of the poor. The New Testament teaches that we should give as we are “able and even beyond our ability” (2 Corinthians 8:3). Therefore, the tithe (10%) is seen as a kind of minimum guideline for giving. It is a starting point to help us live lives of generosity.
If I were to base my giving on the OT tithe, should I give 10% of my gross or net income?
Scripture teaches that we are to give back to God our “first fruits” (Exodus 23:16, 19). Proverbs 3:9 encourages us to “honor the Lord with [our] wealth, with the first fruits of [our] crops,” meaning the primary and choicest of our possessions. God has modeled “first fruits” by giving us his son, Jesus Christ. Our response to God should reflect our love of and devotion to him.
There is no rule or law that one can insist upon. Generally speaking, a heart of generosity is concerned with how much I can give away, rather than how much I can keep. God promises that he will take care of us, and respond to our generosity with provision.
What if I desire but am unable to give 10% right now?
There are seasons in our economic life. There are financial responsibilities to our families, friends, communities, and in some cases, creditors. In any stage of life, good planning is necessary to increase our giving over time without neglecting our legal and personal financial obligations. For some people, 10% is too low a starting point. For others, giving even 5% is a sacrifice. The goal is to increase one’s commitment up to and above 10%, so that it models Christ’s love to our communities.
Should I give all of my tithe and offering to Watermark Community Church?
Not necessarily. Your gift is an act of personal worship to God in response to his grace in your life and the gift of his Son. The allocation of your money and time to God’s service should be a by-product of prayer and of consultation with other Christians to whom you are accountable. However, if you consider Watermark your “home church,” you should consider allocating a significant portion of your tithe and offering to the community where you invest most of your time and where others are investing in you. Scripturally we should probably give a significant majority of our giving to the cause of Christ through the local church, but additionally we should take care of the poor and the marginalized in society as well as our own family members.
Isn’t there more to generosity and stewardship than money?
We certainly must be good stewards of all that God has given us: money, time, skills, influence and position. Therefore, generosity and stewardship are about much more, but not less, than our financial resources. Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Our heart’s inclination is to worship anything other than God. In a city like Hong Kong money can so easily become an idol. Therefore, giving it away generously to God’s service can liberate us from our idolatry and fix our eyes on Jesus, making sure that He is our true treasure.
How does Watermark meet our vision?
Watermark’s vision is not just to build a great church but also, through the ministries of the church, and through supporting and encouraging the churches in our city, to build a great city. One of the main ways we do this is through the strengthening and planting of other churches.
It is easy to think that your individual contributions do not make a difference to the work that is being done. However, 100% of Watermark’s operating budget comes from the weekly giving of our members and regular attenders. We don’t get any support from any outside organizations locally or abroad. Your giving counts and is greatly appreciated!
* This resource has been heavily borrowed from Redeemer Presbyterian Church. The original can be found at https://www.redeemer.com/generosity/stewardship/. There are also additional resources and sermons on that website.