By Mark A. Taylor
Is anybody still using the slogan “Not equal giving, but equal sacrifice”? It used to be standard verbiage in stewardship campaigns raising money to underwrite a budget or build a new auditorium. If the expression is no longer used, I’m not disappointed.
Although the phrase does touch the Bible’s principle of proportional giving, I’m a little suspicious of that word sacrifice. After I’ve given a tithe and more, I still can pay for food, clothes, cars, the mortgage, and a vacation. How much would I have to give before the gift would qualify as sacrifice?
Perhaps giving has become such a habit for me that I take it for granted. If so, maybe I need to give more!
I knew a preacher who mentioned the challenge he and his wife had experienced, trying to increase their giving by 1 percent each year. And I wonder, Why am I satisfied to give only what I’m giving today?
I remember another preacher who told people around him that his lovely home and good salary were God’s gift to him because of his faithfulness. And I wonder, How much spiritual pride have I indulged as I’ve deposited my weekly offering? How often have I approached God with an attitude that says, “You owe me”? (I don’t know how that preacher interpreted his financial loss later when the church fired him.)
And I remember one particular stewardship campaign whose speaker reminded us, “After you’ve given to God, you still have a lot left to be responsible for.” And I realize stewardship is more than deciding the size of my offering. Stewardship is about managing every dollar, every asset, every possession, every experience to please God and lift up his name. The fact that I give doesn’t make me a good steward.
The apostle Paul told the Philippians, “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8).
Have I grown to the place that knowing Christ is the preeminent priority in my life? The energy I spend keeping my checkbook and managing my possessions might say no.
Do many churches today still sing the old hymn, “All to Jesus I surrender, all to him I freely give”? I hope so; it’s one of my favorites. If the apostle were with us he would have the right to sing it—loud and with vigor. But maybe he would be the only one. If I’m honest with myself, I must admit that, for me, most often I should change the “all” in that verse to “most.”