Over the last couple of months we’ve been looking at what it means to be a member of the church. This month we’re looking at Giving, and though this is part of what being a member is about, it is also a part of what it means to be involved in the life of the Free North church whether a ‘member’ or not. So this is relevant for everyone who comes along to the Free North.
The money that we give to the church could easily be seen as merely a responsibility. But it is also a privilege because by giving we are all contributing to the work and witness of God’s church and kingdom work. In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul uses the picture of a physical body which is made up of different parts which serve a variety of functions, to describe the different ways everyone can be involved and invest in the church. Giving involves you in the work of God’s kingdom because the bulk of what is given through the Free North is passed onto the central funds of the Free Church of Scotland. These funds support the full-time ministry of the church at large, as well as the training of students through Edinburgh Theological Seminary, the Mission work of the church, and the ofﬁce staff in Edinburgh.
In the Free North we have a Development Fund which is used for local projects. We are going to use these funds to refurbish the building by creating a brand new toilet block adjacent to the hall, and to create a new office and fellowship area in the church. In addition to this we plan to install a new audio/visual system for recording services and for displaying the words of the psalms for all to see. Monies given into the Development Fund go towards ventures such as these, and thus at a local level giving furthers the Gospel witness in the and through the church.
So giving enables us all to be involved in and invest in the witness of the church at a local, national and international level, which is a great privilege.
In the Old Testament church, God commanded his people to give a tenth of their income. This is what we call ‘tithing’. Passages such as Leviticus 27:30; Numbers 18:26; Deuteronomy 14:24; 2 Chronicles 31:5 make this clear. It has long been stated that if everyone tithed, there would be no financial concerns in the church and the opportunities for growing and developing the witness of the church would be hugely increased. Notwithstanding that, the New Testament emphasises that we do give and we do so proportionately (Acts 11:29), sacriﬁcially (Luke 21:4); regularly (1 Corinthians 16:2); generously (Romans 12:8) and cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:7) and these are to be the motivators and movers when it comes to our giving. How that translates into how much we give is something between you and the Lord. It is his cause, his church, his work and his Kingdom. Personally, I think the best way to decide how much to give is to ponder the grace, love and mercy of God to us through Jesus, and then decide without coercion or out of guilt, but freely and willingly, which is the way God loves us to give.
The best way to give in a regular, disciplined way, which will ensure a regular income for the local and national church, is to use the envelope scheme. Just ask Innes or Susan Fraser, our Treasurers, about this. It is a private and personal means of giving, which means you can put your offering in the suitably dated envelope every Lord’s Day, and put the envelope in the plate. If you are a tax payer then a simple way to increase your giving by 25% without any additional cost to you is by signing a Gift Aid form. The Treasurers will give you more information on this.
May we be encouraged to be giving whatever we can as both a privilege and responsibility the Lord has put to us.
Your friend and pastor
Rev Colin MacLeod