How much to give?
We believe that our giving should not be out of obligation, but out of response - God ‘loves a cheerful giver’. Examples of giving in the Bible vary from the tax collector who gave away half his wealth and promised restitution for anyone he had cheated; to the widow who gave the smallest possible coin – ‘out of her poverty she gave all she had’, to the early disciples who sold all their possessions to give to the poor. All these are expressions of unrestrained delight and joy in giving to God.
Of course there is always the Jewish standard of a ‘tithe’ or tenth of your produce. You can argue if this is before or after tax, and if it is just for the church or shared among Christian charities, or all charities. Since it is a legal standard and we have freedom in Christ, is it binding any longer? There are two problems with this discussion – first there are no clear answers, and second it distracts from the joy of giving. Even so, the Tithe provides an interesting challenge! St Mary of Bethany tithes 10% of its donated income to support mission and ministry at home and overseas.
Overall, we believe we should give abundantly and generously – and discover how wonderfully God blesses a cheerful giver. What this means in practice in terms of appropriate amount will depend on our generosity in the light of personal circumstances and responsibilities. We are very conscious that many of our members give very generously to other very worthwhile causes. However, we ask that all people, who are members of the church and who believe in the ministry of St Mary’s, contribute financially to our ministry, however small or large that donation may be.