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What do you give to your church? What does it cost you?

The New Testament exhorts us to give, and especially to give to the church. “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10).

For those with ample means, giving time and effort to the church may prove more costly than writing a check with several zeroes. For those with little wealth, even a small gift may be a huge sacrifice, and such saints may be rich in other ways. Giving to the church is about more than money.

One way to evaluate our giving is to consider three resources: time, talents, and treasures. A healthy Christian life involves giving not just one or two of these to one’s church, but all three.

Time

The New Testament exhorts every Christian to care for fellow church members in ways that require us to spend time generously. “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15). We can’t celebrate someone’s victory, much less mourn someone’s loss, if we’re always in a hurry.

Consider Paul’s exhortation to all the Christians in Galatia:

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Gal. 6:1–2)

Restoring those who have slid into sin isn’t the work of pastors only; it’s the work of the whole body. And helping those caught in sin requires generous, repeated gifts of time.

Our calling from God to be church members is one among many callings He has given to each of us. Some of us are also called to provide for our families, to care for young children in the home, or to study. We should be faithful in each of these callings. Yet we should never use faithfulness in one calling as an excuse to forsake another.

Are we too busy with work to weep with those who weep? Do our kids’ sports games claim so much time that we have none left over to help Christians who are stuck in sin? Are we so consumed by studying for exams that we have no idea what our church’s needs are or how we might help meet them?

As the Puritan Thomas Watson said, “Time is a talent to trade with.” How are we investing our time to profit our church? How we spend our time both reveals and trains our hearts. Where our time goes, there our hearts will be also.

Giving earthly treasures involves far more than merely writing a check.
Talents

One of the glories of the body of Christ is the diversity of gifts the Spirit has given to build up the body (1 Cor. 12:4, 7). Some gifts the Spirit gives are strikingly mundane: service, mercy, helping, administrating (Rom. 12:7–8; 1 Cor. 12:28). Not every Christian possesses every spiritual gift, but all Christians possess some gifts, and the Spirit has given us those gifts to build up the church.

What do spiritual gifts have to do with talents? While not every talent is a spiritual gift, many spiritual gifts are rooted in talents. Do you have a knack for getting things done, and especially getting things done in a way that leaves all involved feeling encouraged and cared for? You may well have the gift of administration. Do you have a track record of serving those in need? You might have the gift of helping.

God has arranged the body of Christ so that every member needs the others (1 Cor. 12:24–25). In order to flourish, the body of Christ needs every gift the Spirit has given for its growth. In my church, one of the ways different talents build up the body is through the service of deacons and the volunteers they lead. We have deacons of weddings, hospitality, college ministry, sound, childcare, and more.

We ought to treat our talents as clues to spiritual gifts we may have. Whatever gifts we discover, we should remember that they were given to build up others.

Treasures

Whatever earthly treasures God has given us, He wants us to invest them in eternity. One of the main ways we invest our wealth in eternity is by investing in the body of Christ. “Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches” (Gal. 6:6). When we sit under the ministry of the Word, we are responsible to support that minister of the Word. Throughout the New Testament, we see that Christians are characterized by giving generously to provide for one another’s material needs (Acts 2:44; 4:34–35; 1 Cor. 16:1–3).

So, one of the main outlets for our giving should be supporting our church’s budget. But that should be where our giving starts, not where it stops.

Giving earthly treasures involves far more than merely writing a check. Whatever possessions we “own” are given by God for us to steward for others’ good and His glory.

Whatever possessions God has entrusted to us, how can we use them to serve others? Can we regularly loan a car to a carless newly married couple? Can we let a missionary family stay in our home over the summer while we’re away?

God has given us all some measure of time, talents, and treasures. He wants us to turn a spiritual profit on all of it (Matt. 25:14–30). And He has told us to invest in the body of Christ. Where will we start?

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From the February 2019 Issue
Feb 2019 Issue