He knew me and he knew what I meant.  So he discontinued systematic giving and returned to giving in a way that suited him better. 

Apostle Paul was very interested in the Corinthians setting aside money systematically (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).  He encouraged them to do so weekly, so that the money would be saved up when the collection buckets came around again.  Rather than a mandate for weekly giving, Paul’s instructions were to encourage them to be ready when he came back months later to collect the gifts. 

While most of us may benefit from the help of systematic giving, the point is this – there are no rules!  As stewards and money managers, we are also gift managers.  We are free to utilize the methods that help us to give in line with our circumstances.

So stop analyzing the gift methods. If you give an amount that matters to you, it will matter to God also… regardless of whether you automate your gifts or write checks, give weekly or monthly, give with moving music during church service, or while paying bills with the kids yelling in the background.   

#3.  Stop Looking for the Correct Causes.

Making gift decisions can be difficult.  There is no shortage of places to give.  Needs are rampant.  Kingdom vision-casting abounds.  So how do we determine where to give?  Who deserves our help?  What recipients are worthy of our support?  The answer:  RELAX! 

God is not standing behind certain “cause curtains” waiting to see if you’ll walk through the right ones.  Instead, He is paying attention to your gifts directed to Him.

For those who have been on a mission trip, you recall that before the trip you spent most of your time thinking about the “effective work” you were going to do.  But after the trip you spent most of the time talking about what happened to your heart.  That’s because when it comes to missions, often God does more in us than through us.  The same goes with giving. 

We should give freely and openly. Don’t complicate the giving process. Don’t over-think the needs.  Just start giving.  And don’t try to give everywhere.  You can’t. 

But as you develop in the giving journey, you’ll learn to sense God’s leading to be more discerning and selective and in line with a clearer giving purpose.  The generous givers I know tell me they rarely, if ever, regret a gift… even when the outcome may not be as effective as they envisioned.     

What about “church giving”?

There are some biblical guidelines to help us in this area.  We are biblically instructed to support two groups through financial gifts:  (1) the “seed- sowers” - which include the local church, missionaries, word-based organizations, etc; and (2) the needy – the poor, orphans, widows, hungry, lame, etc. 

The matter of tithing and “church first” giving is a beefy one and can’t be fully addressed here.  But in short, we are commanded not to neglect giving to where we are fed spiritually – and that means supporting our local church.  And as scripture makes very clear, we are to remember the poor with our gifts as well.

If we keep these gift categories in mind, grace abounds in our gift choices. 

Look Up

Keep in mind, God is the primary recipient of our gifts.  Do not let your giving be driven by need for an experience... or search for the right method… or understanding the “right” gift recipients. 

Instead, try looking up to God with your gifts.  Make giving a way of life.  Explore new methods and giving rhythms.  And pull the trigger more freely with your gifts.

In doing so, you’ll likely discover a lifestyle experience that fills you, a giving method that motivates you, and a heart transformation that is worth more than any effective work.

This article originally appeared on GenerousChurch.com. Used with permission.

Jeff Anderson has worked with churches and non-profits for nearly two decades, as elder in his own church, and as Vice President of Generosity Initiatives with Crown Financial Ministries, and currently as leader of AcceptableGift.org

Publication date: November 2, 2012