Before we discuss the Pledge, we must be convinced about the need for giving.
Some Christians view giving as a necessary ‘evil’ — I do it because I need to. It’s like making a visit to the dentist — it is good for us and we must do it, but the experience is so unpleasant!
If we think about giving as losing something precious, we will find this discipline unwelcomed. However, we can look at giving in many positive biblical ways — sharing and blessing others (1John 3:17), honouring and worshipping God (Proverbs 3:9), a grateful response to God’s faithfulness and blessings (Deuteronomy 8:18), sharing and participation in needs and ministry (Romans 12:13), and a discipline to thwart materialism in our life.
Giving as a Spiritual Discipline
I would like to elaborate on this last point. Giving does help us counteract materialism in our lives. It is vital to the Intentional Disciple.
In His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Jesus mentioned three disciplines (Matthew 6). He expected His disciples to give, to pray, and to fast. He used the words, “when you give…when you pray…when you fast…”, and not the words, “if you give…if you pray…if you fast…”. Jesus expected the disciples to practise the disciplines as a lifestyle. They are not three options to choose from but three disciplines to practise. Each one is vital for our journey as Intentional Disciples. By the same token, if we disregard any one of these, we give the devil and the world an upper hand in our life.
Worshipping God with What We Have
When we practise giving, we worship God with the things we own. Our joy is not in the things we possess (materialism). When we practise praying, we seek God in all things. We do not put our confidence in human strength or human ingenuity (humanism). When we practise fasting, we surrender our bodies to God. We do not allow our appetites to set the agenda for us (hedonism).
When we give, we are saying ‘no’ to the things we possess — I can live with less; I can let go of these things; I don’t love these that much; I can share these things with others.
We live in a materialistic world. In our world, we are often valued and measured by what we have. Christians are tempted to conform to this culture and seek security by amassing and flaunting things. Jesus warns us in His parable (Luke 12:13-21) that we should not store things for ourselves, but not be rich toward God. This practice of giving delivers us from conforming to this pattern in our world (Romans 12:2).
If we can’t give away (or share) the things we possess, maybe it is us who are being possessed by them! Intentional Disciples must practise the spiritual discipline of giving.
Giving as a Response of Gratitude and Worship to God
Should Christians follow the Jewish practice of tithing (giving 10 percent of their income)? Tithing was not mandated in the New Testament Church. In the New Testament, the emphasis is on cheerful giving! “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7).
Paul asked for deliberate giving, for free-will giving, and for cheerful giving; Paul never suggested any amount. Giving should be the cheerful response in gratitude and worship to the Lord, not done out of fear or obligation.
To whom should our giving be directed? As faithful stewards, we should always seek God’s wisdom and guidance in our giving. We may channel all our giving through our church. However, we may also have requests and needs that we have a burden for and prayerfully discern how we may apportion our giving accordingly.
The Pledge, then, is a faith commitment of giving that that we make to the church. It is not a legal or moral obligation. According to God’s blessings and providence, we may give more or less than our pledged amount.
Our pledges help the Finance Committee and the Local Church Executive Committee (LCEC) meet the church’s planned ministries, projects and activities. The church’s Annual Reports are submitted annually to the Commissioner of Charities for record and public viewing.
Our pledges express our sharing and partnership with the mission and ministries of our church. We also affirm the vows we made to uphold the church by our prayers, our presence, our gifts and our service.
As Intentional Disciples, we want to honour the Lord with our wealth, with the first-fruits of all our crops (Proverbs 3:9). May we be richly blessed in our joyous pledging to the church.
“This service (giving) [parenthesis added] that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Cor.9:12-15)