It's often said about churches and ministries that they're just out for our money. This is such a common complaint that I've heard from people who don't go to church. Granted there are some ministries that do scam for money, but overall I think those are the exception. If you are a member of a church or even just an attender, you more than likely know what your church does. The question you should ask yourself is what are you doing for your church?
Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the LORD your God has blessed you.
Deuteronomy 16:17 (NIV)
It's amazing how blessed we in the United States are. And so many Christians throughout the world have an outpouring of blessings in their lives. So many Christians have cups that are running over and they can well afford to keep giving back to the loving God who has blessed them. You know what you can afford. And God knows what you can afford, but He leaves it up to you to decide. Are you giving as much to do God's work as you give up for your own personal pleasure. You're the one keeping the books and paying the bills. Are you paying all of the bills that you have due?
Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV)
Yes what you give is your decision, but how do you make your choices. Take a look around you and then take a look at your own life. Right now we are seeing the tremendous suffering in Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake. There is comparable suffering in many places in the world. There is suffering in your own community. Part of giving to God is giving what you can to help those who are suffering. Give til it hurts, but keep a cheerful attitude. Your reward should not be acclamation from others, but the inner peace of knowing that you are giving to God.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:19-21 (NIV)
Some people have a great deal and hide behind locked gates and security systems. If they were to lose their material possessions, they might feel very sad and without value. There is a greater value that we should place our focus upon and that is in the good that we do for others and the work that we do for God. No one can take away our heavenly rewards that await us, but we can choose to give them up.
"Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me.
"But you ask, 'How do we rob you?'
"In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.
Malachi 3:8-10 (NIV)
There is an important principle at work in giving to God. When we give to God, God gives back. When we steal from God, we are under a curse. The blessing from God will be abundant if we are in His will and doing His work. If we are living a Godly life, we will understand the nature of His blessing--it may be very different than what we might have expected in living life for ourselves.
And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will.
2 Corinthians 8:1-5 (NIV)
Giving doesn't just mean money either. It can also mean your time, your service, your property, or whatever else you have to give. Remember that a church is like a business. Buildings must be maintained, personnel must be paid, utility bills must be addressed. Even if a church consisted of just some people meeting outside or in a home, someone would have to be contributing time and service. Even a poor church can give of themselves to be in the service of God. Maybe they won't be blessed with an abundance of worldly riches, but they are storing up treasures in heaven.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 (NIV)
When you start worrying about the sacrifices you think you're making for God, remember the sacrifice God made for you.