What principles should govern a Christian approach to giving? Richard Foster offers the following suggestions:-
1. Let us give proportionately. ‘Proportionate to what? Proportionate to the accumulated wealth of one’s family? Proportionate to one’s income and the demands upon it, which vary from family to family? Proportionate to one’s sense of security and the degree of anxiety with which one lives? Proportionate to the keenness of our awareness of those who suffer? Proportionate to our sense of justice and of God’s ownership of all wealth? Proportionate to our sense of stewardship for those who follow after us? And so on, and so forth. The answer, of course, is in proportion to all of these things.’ (Elizabeth O’Connor).
2. Let us keep in creative tension ‘reasoned’ giving and ‘risk’ giving. Whether giving to organisations, we should be mindful of their record of responsible use of money. When giving to individuals, we should be aware of what what use will be made of the money. But there is a danger in too calculating an approach, in the giver wanting to call all the shots. So we need to be prepared also to give with lavish abandon, like the woman with the alabaster jar, Mt 26:6-13.
3. Let us seek out and give to individuals and organisations that lack celebrity status. Don’t rely too much on media accounts of those in need, but find out for yourself who is in need, and where God is at work.
4. Let us give without seeking power. Like the first believers, let’s use money not as an instrument of power, but of love. Let not out giving depend on whether we get our own way or not. The woman who gave her ‘mite’ to the temple treasury might have had many reasons for witholding it, but she did not do so, Mk 12:41-44.
5. Let us give ourselves as well as our money. See 2 Cor 8:5 – ‘First they gave themselves.’ Do do not let monetary donations become an excuse for failing to get involved in other ways.
6. Let us seek out advisers who can help us in our giving. Get guidance on planned giving, wills, and so on.
7. Let us make out caring wills that express our concern for the kingdom of God. We who have been so used to denying our wealth would be astonished at the resources we could make available when graduate from this life to the next.
Based on Foster, Money, Sex and Power, 74-83.