When the calendar flipped to 2020, no one could have anticipated that in just a few months, our world would be facing an unprecedented pandemic. None of us would have expected stable businesses slowed to a halt, employees sent home without pay, or employers left scrambling to pick up the pieces.
The coronavirus pandemic is hitting hard and presents us with hard-hitting questions. When our regular bills are more than we can handle, should we keep tithing? If giving is a vital part of Christianity, what does a sudden and massive change of income mean for the regular tither? Will churches make it through? The last few days have put many of us in a tough situation, with the same bills piling up and little or no income to pay them. So what should we do?
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).
Our God is a God of mercy.
The foundational truth is that God does not require us to give when our finances are gone, nor does he require it when our finances are strong. We give because it is our choice to make; it is a choice to give all of ourselves and all we have to him in any circumstance. There is no 10% tithing mandate when our finances are low simply because there is no 10% mandate for any of us at any time. We give freely from our hearts because we love Jesus, because our lives are no longer our own, not because God will smite us if we don’t.
Billy Graham was once asked about giving when unemployed. His answer to ChristianPost.com was simple, “’You see, no matter how generous we are, we should never give because we think we’re buying God’s favor — much less earning our salvation. Graham added that giving ‘should be a result of something far deeper: our love for God and His work’ rather than an effort to curry favor with God’.”
We give because there is a joy that we can only know when we give as God leads. We give because giving makes us more like Christ. We give because sometimes we will know what it is like to be in dire need and receive graciously from others, and we find unspeakable joy to give as has been so generously given to us. God doesn’t simply require our money, he requires our all.
In Christ, there is no fear that God will be ‘mad at us’ if we don’t give, or God will be somehow more pleased with us because we give a lot. Our salvation was bought with a price at the cross and remains secure and unshakable.
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength”. Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles” (Philippians 4:13-17).
Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi reveals he was no stranger to what it meant to be in need. Like Paul, there are times when we have plenty, and times when we find ourselves in need. It is also clear that in these times of financial need, Paul was still actively giving. Giving of what finances he could as he felt led. Giving of his time. Giving of himself. Giving of his energy. Paul may have found himself on the receiving end financially, but he was certainly on the giving end spiritually.
When you find yourself in a place where your financial giving is minimal or non-existent, you may find a place to serve elsewhere. Find ways to serve physically, love on those around you, and be an encouragement where you can. Spend time in prayer and in the Word. God longs to speak to us and grow us spiritually, especially in difficult times. Allow him to use this time for his glory.
We serve a risen Savior in whom we find our life and freedom. It is an honor to give him all of ourselves regardless of our financial situation, and it is our honor to receive from the church when we are in dire need without anything expected in return.
“All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along” (Galatians 2:10).
During this coronavirus pandemic, some of us will be okay, our jobs still in place and our finances not severely impacted. If this is our situation, it is our responsibility to look for needs that may arise, people who are suddenly in trouble, and find ways to help them out.
These may be in our churches or in the community at large, but those needs are certainly there. We should continue to financially support the ministries that we generally support, but also seek out ways to financially support those in sudden need.
Over the last few days, I have seen all kinds of thoughts on the sudden challenge that has come upon churches. Many in our congregations are suddenly without income, and regular tithers have lost their ability to tithe. Many have wondered if churches will weather the storm. The answer is that we will. Our hope as a church is not in our finances but in Christ. We trust in him as our rock and our provision.
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).
An important thing to remember is that this situation is temporary. As the pandemic situation changes hourly, we have no idea what things will look like in a month, a week, or even a few days from now. What is true of our situation today could change tomorrow. Eventually, things will turn around. In contrast, God is unchanging. He knows our hearts, our thoughts, and every situation that causes us pain.
If you want to give but are unable to give right now, it is okay. In the grand scheme of things, this is but a moment that will pass. Those who can give should step up in this time of need, and those who are in need should be willing to accept help and look to serve where they can.
Jason Soroski is a homeschool dad and author of A Journey to Bethlehem: Inspiring Thoughts for Christmas and Hope for the New Year. He serves as worship pastor and in Colorado and spends his weekends exploring the Rocky Mountains with his family. Connect on Twitter, Instagram, or at JasonSoroski.net.