I wanted to write a couple of very practical blogs about money, sharing some of the practises that Dave and I have developed over the years. Not because these should be copied exactly but because they might provide a useful conversation starter.
So this is a blog about giving.
In I Corinthians 16 Paul writes, ‘On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income.’
In Old Testament times God had always asked the people of God to set aside the first fruits of their harvest. To always give first to Him. And if this harvest couldn’t be offered to God straight away they were to exchange this portion of their harvest for money, which they could then set aside and give to God when they were able to go and make a sacrifice.
We see here how that habit is carried on, in a new way, among the early Church. Paul is instructing the church in Corinth to set aside money for impoverished and afflicted churches in Judea, so that money can be taken to them when Paul next visits Jerusalem.
It is a good habit to set money aside at the start of each month when your pay comes in, and also when you receive some extra money. Currently Dave and I do this mainly through standing orders by giving most of this set aside money to St Philip’s but also some money to a missionary friend and two charities we are supporting.
When we get some extra unexpected money we usually set some of this aside – by putting it in a different bank account. An account that is not for the everyday things, but the occasional things. In this account we put aside money for holidays, car expenses, house insurance and so on and we also put money in here that is set aside to give. This enables us to be on the lookout for extra things to give money to, which we enjoy doing.
So, I would encourage you to set money aside – the easiest way to do this is by setting up standing orders. But also set aside extra money so that you are able to give as the need arises. This could be in a different account or cash in an envelope ready to give.
Now when Paul wrote to the Corinthians he told them to set aside money ‘in keeping with your income’. This phrase seems to mark a development of Old Testament practice. In Old Testament times the people of God were commanded to give a tithe, ten percent, of their harvest. But we don’t seem to find such an explicit commandment among the early church. Instead, we read here an instruction to give in keeping with their income. So still to give a proportion of their income, rather than a set amount for everyone, but an amount that increases as you earn more.
Dave and I have always given a proportion of our income. When we were first were married we had two incomes and we gave the largest percentage of our income we have ever given. Since then we have prayed each year about what we should give each month, an amount that fits with our income and with what we sense God is saying to us. We pray together and look for agreement with each other and a sense of peace about this amount.
There have been times when we have not had a salary. Though living in this country has meant we have still been blessed to have money coming in each month. So we have still set money aside each month, but a smaller percentage.
Decisions about setting aside money are done in conversation with God and each other. At St Philip’s we encourage an annual conversation, in which we ask households to review what they are setting aside each month to give to St Philip’s. As part of this conversation households might review other gifts that they regularly make.
There is also an ongoing conversation. When we receive extra money it is good to ask the Lord – 'What would you like me to set aside?' This practise acknowledges that all that we have belongs to God and is there to be used by Him for His glory.
By Sarah Ducker