New Approach To Managing Resources

With our lives so packed with activity and commitments, we naturally appreciate responsibilities that are easy to remember and quick to fulfill. Tithing may well fit into that category (even though it has no New Testament support—see chapter 8).

As we have seen, handling God's resources is not something to be taken lightly. Nor is it an obligation that can be satisfied by simply writing a check that satisfies a legalistic limit and then forgetting about it.

Being part of a family includes protecting the family's resources. It is no different with the family of God. The tangible resources of God's Kingdom have been placed at our disposal. We have the privilege of investing those resources—not just our money, but our time, possessions, ideas, relationships, skills, spiritual gifts, and so forth—to produce positive results for the Kingdom. The progress of God's work depends to some extent upon how we utilize the ample resources that He has entrusted to us. You are, in effect, a portfolio manager for the Kingdom of God.

Is investing your money, effort, expertise, relational capital, and creativity in constructing more religious buildings the best investment for His Kingdom? Is investing 3 percent of your total household income—that's the average devoted by Americans to religious activity of any type—sufficient to advance His work?' Can you justify giving money to an organization to take care of the needs of the poor as your only involvement in the lives of the impoverished? Like every investor, you will be seduced by opportunities that are likely to produce good outcomes as well as by other opportunities that will squander

Every year, The Barna Group tracks people's giving to churches and other nonprofit organizations. A recent review of donations is described in the report "Americans Donate Billions to Charity, But Giving to Churches Has Declined." That report can be accessed at http://www.barna.org.

resources. Every choice you make has eternal consequences. How you choose to allocate the Kingdom's resources will affect the lives of many people.

Although the notion of giving God one-tenth of what you have is perceived as a stretch by most believers, keep in mind that you have been freed from such a target. Instead, God has given you the checkbook and told you to invest it in whatever ways will bring about the best outcomes for His glory and purposes. And, of course, you will be evaluated for how wisely you invested those resources.

It has often been said that you can tell a person's priorities by examining his or her checkbook. If someone were to examine your checkbook—as well as your schedule and personal goals—what message would he or she receive?

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