The release of “Joy Giving” has invited deep and thoughtful questions from givers.
Adelia wrote from Indonesia this month, asking, “How do I determine the ministry that God wants me to give to?” She’s prayed and determined what the right lifestyle is. She’s cared for the needs of her immediate family and given generously to her local church. But she wants to go beyond.
Desiring What God Desires
Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
One friend told us that her view on this verse has changed. She used to believe that, if you love God, He will give you what you want. But He has gently taught her that what the verse really means is that He will teach your heart what to desire.
Better to be prayerful and thoughtful than to make rash decisions. Listening to God is part of the process.
Start by pursuing Him, walking closely with Him, and learning to desire Him. As you do that, His desires will become your desires.
Give To—and Through—Those Who Emphasize Transparency
In 2 Corinthians 8, Paul is sending Titus and another trusted brother to Corinth. Their purpose was to receive a gift that the Corinthian church was sending to the poor brothers and sisters in Jerusalem. In verses 19 to 21, here’s what Paul says:
“What is more, [the man chosen to accompany Titus] was chosen by the churches to accompany us as we carry the offering, which we administer in order to honor the Lord himself and to show our eagerness to help. We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man.”
Paul goes to great lengths to make sure that the Corinthian givers know that their gift will be treated well, that they can trust him and the people carrying the gift.
Financial transparency must be a prerequisite for any ministry to which Christians give. If the ministry is withholding information about its finances, givers should withhold gifts.
As you start, recognize that there is no rush. Better to be prayerful and thoughtful than to make rash decisions. Listening to God is part of the process.
Of course, the temptation as you wait for clarity is to spend the money on yourself. Take the amounts that God has prompted you to give and set those aside—perhaps in a separate bank account or, if your country permits them, in a donor-advised fund.
Now that the funds are dedicated to the Lord’s work, with whom does He want you to share those funds?
1. Start with God’s Passions
Remember to ask good, big questions like, “God, what is your passion? What is the dream that you’d love to see happen?”
This exercise drives us to prayer and to Scripture, listening to His heart. He may bring a specific cause or ministry to mind.
When many givers look to Scripture, they find that the Great Commandment and Great Commission become the center of their giving.
The Great Commandment (Matthew 22) says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
The Great Commission (Matthew 28) says, “Go…and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
Place loving God, loving people, and making disciples at the center of your giving. Of the ministries you’re considering supporting, how do they draw people to love God? How do they disciple? How do they express God’s love for people? Is God at the center? Or are they doing good work without pointing recipients to the Source of all good? (See Chapter 5 of Joy Giving.)
2. Turn to Those Most Trustworthy
Of course, there are thousands of causes that fit within these broad parameters of loving God, loving people, and making disciples. How can we zero in on God’s priorities from there?
In the spirit of 2 Corinthians 8, are the ministries you’re considering willing to be transparent about their finances?
In the spirit of 2 Corinthians 8 (above), are the ministries you’re considering willing to be transparent about their finances? Are the leaders trustworthy? Do you know them to be people of great character and integrity? Are they trusted by others whom you trust?
3. Can You Be a Patron to Someone You Know?
More and more givers are experiencing the joy of partnering with ministry leaders. These partnerships are real relationships between real friends. (See Chapter 7 of Joy Giving.)
John Rinehart’s book, Gospel Patrons, gives biblical and historical examples of how these relationships work. Often, one person is in full-time ministry. The other is in business. They are equally committed to the work of the Gospel.
When you become a patron, you take a personal interest in the ministry leader’s life. Their wins become your wins; their frustrations become your frustrations. Perhaps it’s a pastor who’s planting a new church, or a missionary raising personal support, or someone who’s seen a need in your community and is trying to meet the need.
Being a patron means that focus more of our giving on fewer people and fewer causes. But we become more deeply and intimately involved with those people and those causes.
Are there people you know whom God has anointed in a special way, and who could use a handful of patrons to support the vision God has given them?
4. Pray Over Your Short List
Make a list of the causes that meet the criteria above and lay them before the Lord. Of the ones that remain, see if He guides your heart toward one or more of those. For inspiration, look at Acts 6, in which the apostles choose another seven people to help distribute food to widows.
Just as the early church wanted to allocate resources through these seven men “full of the Spirit and wisdom” (Acts 6:3-4), you want to send your charity through godly people. Ask the Holy Spirit to direct you, to show you through whom He wants you to give your gifts to the poor—whether spiritually or materially poor.
And, most important, like the apostles, pray for these leaders (Acts 6:6). After these stewards of the church’s generosity were chosen, “the word of God spread” (Acts 6:7).
We pray that, through your generosity, God will spread His word more and more.
To bring more joy to your giving, each post at joygiving.org takes a giver’s question (Situation), offers biblical guidance (Scripture), and, based on our thousands of interactions with Christian givers around the world, offers action items (Steps).