Two thousand years ago, St. Paul asked his Christian community: “What do you have that you did not receive”? (1 Cor 4:7). Their response – and ours – would have to be: “nothing”. When we truly recognize and believe that everything we are and everything we have is an unearned gift from God, our hearts and our lives are forever changed. Our first response to God’s goodness and generosity is gratitude and joy. Our second response is a desire to respond to God’s love. “How can I repay the Lord for all the good he has done for me?” (Ps 116:12)
We can never repay God because his gifts are infinite and God needs nothing. Even our desire to thank God is itself God’s gift to us; however, we can respond to God’s love by generously and joyfully sharing the gifts he has entrusted to us. We call this spirituality Christian stewardship.
We have been encouraged to be good stewards of our God-given time and talents by sharing them with the parish and community outreach ministries that serve God in others. Today and every day, in a spirit of gratitude and joy, we should respond to God’s love by making a commitment to return a generous portion of our treasure, our money, to God.
How Much to Give
We give because we have received and we give in the measure in which we have received. The Old Testament tradition of tithing, or giving 10%, is a good start. After all, the fact that God gives us 100% and only asks for 10% is a pretty good deal! However, stewardship goes beyond percentages as Bishop Fulton J. Sheen said, “never measure your generosity by what you give, but rather by what you have left.” Please take a moment to consider what percentage of your income you are giving to God in your Sunday offering. One recommendation is to give 5% to the church and 5% to parish and community outreach ministries such as Christian Services, second collections, PSA, and missionary appeals. If you are currently giving 2% or 3% of your income, please consider increasing it by 1% or 2% each year.
How Should I Give
When we give a gift to someone we put it in an envelope, a bag, or wrap it in nice paper, and we always put our name on it. Clearly none of this is necessary; the recipient would accept the gift without a card or wrapping paper. However, preparing our gifts becomes part of the gift itself, it shows that we have put thought into the gift and that the recipient is important to us. Likewise, we can put our cash or check in the collection basket, and it will be gratefully received and wisely used.
I would ask that you think about using your church envelope as a way of preparing your gift for God. Like the gifts we give to others, we wrap them up, sign our name and give them with pride and joy.
However, many of us take care of our most important commitments through electronic giving through WeGather (ongoing weekly or monthly donations) or Pay Pal (best for one-time donations). Even when you are away from home or not using your car, you are still responsible for them. Similarly, our church is truly our home, and it is always our home even when we are away. Moreover, our church exists not just for ourselves but for others. Please consider supporting your church home by signing up for electronic giving. For your convenience, click on either of the websites above, and you will be taken to a donation page.
God owns it all. May we respond with gratitude, joy and generosity.