I don’t have a spiritual Gift of giving. Don’t believe giving spiritual things is a ‘personal conviction’ or is cool or unique. At Tp, we offer prayer and all spiritual offerings freely because it’s Just, and they are not ours to sell. By grace we have received, through grace we give of ourselves and resources (Matthew 10:8). It is not our place to put up walls and try to block Godly help because of something as trivial as money. This belief aligns with the Bible, resonates with my spirit, and my faith. Freely giving to me means doing so not just with my heart but also with actions, so that means offering spiritual creations, spiritual gifts, witnessing to & praying for others for free, helping others, and giving my time, etc.
I also believe a personal ministry or local fellowship assembly is not a business. Spiritual entities should not sell things or yoke themselves with the government (2 Corinthians 6:14). This is why you don’t see business ads on this site and why we don’t sell any of our offerings.
How did I arrive at this conclusion? Well, one thing that helps me on my journey is I’m very reflective, and God helps me discern blurry lines (when he allows). I think with my mind and discern with my spirit and Bible (2 Timothy 3:16); we should not just follow the crowd (Exodus 23:2)(3 John 1:11) . As I always advise, we must go to God and the Word to see if we are doing the right thing, not the world. And we must handle the Word properly. We should seek advice from spiritual mentors, too (Proverbs 11:14) (Proverbs 12:15).
It is also right to support our home church and others doing God’s work. That aligns with the Bible. We are all parts of Christ’s body and should assist each other. (1 Corinthians 12:27) What God has given us will be used for Him when we freely give for the benefit of others. This is especially true for those who have a calling to work in ministry full time, like messengers of the Gospel and hard-working elders or pastors (though, technically, we are all in full time ministry). Most people have some basic expenses as mentioned in my Selling Jesus piece.
I am content and depend on God for all my needs, but I know how it feels to want to do more but can’t, constantly pulled back and forth. Thankfully, I don’t deal with that anymore. God taught me how to simplify my life so that I don’t need much, which frees up time. I know how it feels to wear several different hats and not get physical help from people who have the true skill (though the Lord fills in the gaps).
That’s one reason why, if Christians benefit from a spiritual creation, their local church, or someone’s personal ministry (all Christians have one-their spiritual abilities), they should give back and share in some way from their hearts.
Why Many Christians opt out of This Type of Giving
Some think it’s a personal choice. We can definitely sell spiritual creations, spiritual gifts, tickets to a worship service, prayer, and even salvation apparently, which you see with events, movies, and books. Besides, people sell God’s earthly creations, like the food we grow, natural materials, skills, etc and may even witness while working. Should people stop sharing their faith on their secular job to not blend the two? Of course, not. You should share as the Holy Spirit leads. Our lives are a ministry as mentioned above. But there is a distinction. At a secular business or job, you are being paid to provide a service or product, not to witness or help fellow Christians.
Other people opt out because they have expenses that need to be taken care of. Is that a lack of faith that God can provide? And what are a few ways to get help for a project? Hmm. Let’s see… get help from people in your home church, or perhaps visit sister churches. After the service, you can tell brothers and sisters about your ministry or project. The individuals within the church may donate to your cause, or they may donate talents or items. Maybe you can do a Kickstarter or Indiegogo fundraiser. Just work and donate your own money, along with a few like-minded friends or family members. Try to blend a few of these suggestions. After a project is completed or a personal ministry has begun, one can accept free-will donations.
In the Bible, we see many people sold God-given skills, their harvest, and many had local businesses. It’s translated that Jesus was some type of builder in his younger years, which is seen as a symbol of his role in the Church, and Paul was a tent maker while ministering in Corinth, but you won’t find instances where Christians literally sold Spiritual Food or Gifts to prevent others from being blessed by them. Ministry workers, specifically seed planters and pastors, may have accepted honorariums or had their needs provided for while ministering (this is where the labourer is worthy of his hire comes in). There is nothing wrong with being paid for ministering, though that’s not necessary. For example, a local fellowship may simply provide things like shelter or food for their leaders. Some of the churches back then did stuff wrong, just as many do today, but fellowships were told to help elders/pastors (1 Tim 5:17-18), seed planters (Phil 4:15)(1 Corinthians 9:14), spiritual family in need (1 Tim 5:3-16) (2 Corinthians 8)(Acts 11:27-30)(1 Corinthians 16:1-9), and a ministering guest (3 John 5-8). The very early church had all things in common (Acts 4:32-35).
Now, how did they accomplish this? With free-will giving! We also notice that people donated during Jesus’ ministry, but I didn’t see him selling his miracles, prayer, healings, or teachings (Luke 8:3)(John 13:29). They depended on God and the generosity of others.
Slowly, more people are becoming less selfish in this area of giving and are beginning to understand that offering Spiritual things freely should be in the Church’s foundation. People are joining (or partly joining) the movement and are taking a stand with this grassroots belief, but it seems some are running into a few roadblocks.
Why are Freely Giving Christ-Followers Struggling?
Some freely-given believers are feeling the pressure to compromise, which some have done. But why is this happening? Well, one might say they should just do what they can by ministering in their day-to-day life. Think simply here. Maybe these people are jumping ahead of themselves. Maybe God didn’t tell them to do something; that’s why their struggling. Some may wonder if these people are good stewards of what they have. Maybe they should be more creative with their efforts. Perhaps they should not look to donations to help with any expenses and get a job; ministry is not a business.
Hmm… These could be valid points. My grandmother-in-law has a personal ministry that she does in her Oaxacan village, according to her gifts. No expenses. But that is not everyone’s path. I don’t think people should throw out spiritual dreams that need a little money, though they should always be good stewards of God’s money. For example, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars or even millions to make a spiritual film is ridiculous. They should focus on simple plays or chapbooks if they aren’t creative enough to do micro-budget filmmaking (as Christ-focused art isn’t a business investment as many sadly do today).
Another reason people may struggle is because they need a little more support. But, some Christians are dealing with a hard-to-break issue, which is worldly conditioning. That stronghold might unconsciously guide their ideals and actions, and they just don’t know it.
Has This Society Hijacked the Value of Free?
As you visit websites, you might read their articles and may even stumble upon a free offer. One can read available content, take any free offers, and the transaction is done. People don’t usually think to “leave a donation” for a business. Why should they? If they like what they see, they will just buy something the business offers. Besides, many websites make money off your visit through ads or affiliate marketing anyway.
But, what happens when people stumble upon a Christian ministry that offers free content and other creations? Of course, anyone, regardless of their financial situation, can partake of the offerings. A portion of people help, but others don’t assist for various reasons. One group doesn’t help because they see this opportunity as a take-all-you-can as they would a business. They might think the ministry is doing fine, or they must not be offering anything of value or they’d surely put a price on it.
Many people don’t value the free things they get. They often put these things aside and take the things they actually pay for seriously. Why? Because society tells people what is valuable. For the most part, it is the things they have to pay or work for. But ministry is not a secular business for a few believers. Some Christians who provide free articles, help, their time, and things do this because it’s part of who they are; it involves that whole serving Christ thing. Their value does not depend on a price tag; it is in Christ, so they would never put a price on God’s Gifts. Life-giving offerings are priceless.
Ponder this story based on true events…
There was a man who had a spiritual gift of wisdom, and he provided counsel freely. He felt that was the right thing to do. Sadly, those who sought his wisdom often flaked on him. Most people didn’t think to help or ask if he needed anything. They didn’t love their neighbor as thy selves (Matthew 22:39). Over time, he grew frustrated and his soul weary. He did not want to deal with this problem or at least wanted to decrease it. He came up with a solution. He started charging a fixed price before sharing His Gift with people, which means he’s literally selling a spiritual gift (Acts 8:18-22). He noticed that people changed. People were more responsible. More people showed up on time and were ready to invest themselves in the session they payed for. “Business” was booming, and he can now live comfortably off his “mandatory” donations.
This shows that people are heavily influenced by the world in which they live. Perhaps these people devalued free worldly things, and this spilled over into their Spiritual life. Ironically, they devalued something that is truly Valuable. This caused a man with a Gift of counsel to limit his reach and put a price on help. It may appear that he didn’t have a freely-giving heart, but we are human and can fall after so much abuse. Even if he decided to offer his counseling to the poor freely, he would make those people feel as if they could not afford God’s help, which is not right. The deceitful, positive outcome validated his decision, and he now decided that was the right thing to do. He probably encouraged others to do the same. As you can see, worldly influence can have a domino effect in the Body of Christ and cause people to fall into human reasoning, instead of Spiritual reasoning. But this is not the only thing to worry about.
First, Show me the Money
Some people need money yet desire to work in ministry. These people look for something that can satisfy both of these, which could be a place or project that does not desperately need them. This is why it is wise to make sure God is leading your path, not your financial situation. The truth is that people shouldn’t expect ministry work to pay all their bills.
Should ministries promise a set amount of anything? Some may have an idea of what is usually donated but don’t know what will happen month-to-month (James 4:13-16). The amount or what someone will get may vary. They will have to add a Lord willing to what they offer (James 4:15). Even so, some freely-giving people may not have much to give anyway. Maybe everyone should just quit. No, no. Like other people in the same boat, they have outside jobs or businesses to provide for the necessities and not burden the ministry. Of course, you probably know some Christians who do not take anything from their church or ministry, even if it can provide something. These people decide to live off their outside work exclusively so that the money can be used in other ways, like helping the poor.
If someone really wants to work in a ministry or assist a person, they wouldn’t let money stop them, even if they could only collaborate on one project or every now and then.
Worldly conditioning has changed modern-day Christians’ views on ministry work. People demand a certain amount before they share God’s Spiritual gifts or natural skills, instead of just ministering and allowing people to give what they can when they can. They treat helping Christ like a secular job, which is not the right heart.
So, how can we reverse this conditioning? By letting go and getting back to the basics, Spiritually. Start with this: If you benefit spiritually from a fellow believer or see one that needs assistance, don’t just pray for them and lurk in the background. They are a part of your eternal family; get involved, and assist in some way. Take fellow Christians’ time and work seriously. Don’t abuse them. Be generous and treat others like you’d want to be treated (Proverbs 11:25)(Proverbs 3:27)(Hebrews 13:16). Just because someone offers Spiritual meetings or books freely doesn’t mean his or her time is not valuable. If you have an offering, whether a gift card or whatever, offer it. If it’s a session, prepare your heart. Show up ready to see what lessons God has for you.