A Disciple's Generous Response
Scriptures for Reflection
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God-what is good and acceptable and perfect.
—Romans 12:1-2 NRSV
Let my word be preached to the bruised and the brokenhearted as well as those who are enmeshed in sin, longing to repent and follow me. Let the truths of my gospel be proclaimed as widely and as far as the dedication of the Saints, especially through the exercise of their temporal stewardship, will allow. My Spirit is reaching out to numerous souls even now and there are many who will respond if you, my people, will bear affirmative testimony of my love and my desires for all to come unto me.
—Doctrine and Covenants 153:9a-b
As disciples of Jesus Christ, we accept responsibility for sharing generously with others. Our sharing is in response to the gift of God’s love for every person. We share our witness of Jesus Christ and our resources. Sharing with others acknowledges that all we have and are is a gift from God to us. Sharing our witness tells others what Jesus Christ and the church mean to us.
Part of our witness as disciples is sharing the news of God’s great generosity. God provides “enough and to spare” (Doctrine and Covenants 101:2f). God shares in abundance, “good measure, pressed down…shaken together, and running over.” All that we have and all that we are is a priceless gift to us from God. What then is our response as disciples of Jesus Christ? In simple terms, we respond with thankfulness and share with others as generously as God has shared with us.
Scripture guides us in our discipleship: “Stewardship is the response of my people to the ministry of my Son and is required alike of all those who seek to build the kingdom” (Doctrine and Covenants 147:5a). All things were created by God and are to be used for God’s purposes. As disciples of Christ, we explore the scriptures to understand our stewardship of time, giftedness, and financial resources in response to God’s grace and love expressed to us in the life of Jesus Christ. Our stewardship is
- a personal response to God’s grace and love;
- a means to meet the needs of a growing church; and
- a way to provide more fully and joyfully for Christlike service and ministry, locally and globally.
Agency is one of the generous gifts God gives to us. Agency is our ability to choose freely how we respond to God’s infinite love and grace. Using our agency wisely allows us to manage our time, giftedness, and resources to benefit our personal, family, congregational, and community life. More specifically, our stewardship of financial resources defines the extent we can generously share, wisely save, and responsibly spend. The following six principles of A Disciple’s Generous Response guide us in living out our stewardship of resources:
- A disciple practices generosity as a spiritual discipline in response to God’s grace and love.
- A disciple is faithful in response to Christ’s ministry.
- A disciple’s financial response, while unique to individual circumstances, expresses love of God, neighbor, creation, and oneself.
- A disciple shares generously through tithing so that others may experience God’s generosity.
- A disciple saves wisely in order to create a better tomorrow for self, family, the church’s mission, and the world.
- A disciple spends responsibly as a commitment to live in health and harmony with God and the world.
Tithing is a concept deeply rooted in our scriptures. It is our gift to God in response to God’s generous gifts of grace and love to us. Generosity comes from a spirit of thankfulness within us, not from imposed formulas and rules. We share what we have because we want to. We share what we receive first from God. Therefore, a disciple asks, “How much tithing can I hope to share?” rather than, “How much should I give?”
Tithing is based on the biblical principle of sharing our firstfruits with God. This means tithing is the disciple’s response of thanksgiving and is given before we spend or save from our income. In the Bible the word “tithe” means a tenth part of what one owns or receives. Tithing, according to scriptural principles, is the act of sharing 10 percent of our income with God. As disciples we honor what we have received from God by reaching toward sharing 10 percent or more through Mission and Community Tithes. “Let whoever is of a generous heart bring the Lord’s offering” (Exodus 35:5).
Sharing through Mission Tithes
Our Mission Tithes go primarily to World and Congregation Ministries. Through them we support world and local missions that fulfill the following scripture: “Let the truths of my gospel be proclaimed as widely and as far as the dedication of the Saints, especially through the exercise of their temporal stewardship will allow” (Doctrine and Covenants 153:9a). Mission Tithes are a significant portion of a generous disciple’s response. By sharing equally with Congregation and World Ministries, the disciple shares in the mission of the church both on a local and global level. Examples of Mission Tithes include Congregation Ministries, Mission Center Ministries, World Ministries, Oblation, World Hunger, and other designated church funds.
Disciples generally give Mission Tithes during worship services. In your home congregation, you can request offering envelopes from your Congregational Financial Officer (CFO). Offering envelopes allow you to designate funds for World Ministries and Congregation Ministries, as well as give to other funds such as the Building Fund or Oblation Fund. Additionally, some disciples share through direct contributions sent to World Church Headquarters. Estate and Gift Planning ministers at World Church Headquarters are also available, on request, to provide assistance in planning other ways for you to share Mission and Community Tithes.
Sharing through Community Tithes
Community Tithes are a disciple’s response to church-affiliated organizations and other charitable nonprofit organizations that are “in the forefront…recognizing the worth of persons and are committed to bringing the ministry of my Son to bear on their lives” (Doctrine and Covenants 151:9). Generous disciples may share a portion of their tithing directly with institutions such as Graceland University, Outreach International, Outreach Europe, Restoration Trail Foundation, SaintsCare, World Accord, and other charitable nonprofit organizations.
Save for the Future
The principle of saving is an expression of hope for the future. Disciples save in order to create a better tomorrow for themselves, their heirs, the church, and the world. Through planning and careful management, many have found that saving at least 10 percent of their income is an effective way to prepare for the future. “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it?” (Luke 14:28). Disciples save for a number of reasons: major purchases, unexpected needs, vacations, retirement funds, college funds, and estate building for family and church. Indeed, disciples can continue their generous response beyond this life by making provisions in their estates for the ongoing ministries of the church.
The principle of spending responsibly is a commitment by disciples to use the remainder of their income to live in health and harmony as they support family, personal needs, giftedness, and interests. Wise and prayerful planning and management of these remaining resources brings financial wholeness in life. How we spend our money is part of our personal witness of Christ. “It is incumbent upon the Saints…to be in the world but not of it, living and acting honestly and honorably before God and in the sight of all men, using the things of this world in the manner designed of God, that the places where they occupy may shine as Zion…” (Doctrine and Covenants 128:8b,c). Disciples spend responsibly in all areas of life, including housing, health care, transportation, food, clothing, recreation, and personal development.
Live as a Generous Disciple
Generosity is one of the ways we can both honor our heritage and our call to live as prophetic people who help shape the future God has envisioned for all creation. A Disciple’s Generous Response is a whole life commitment we choose to make in response to God’s wonderful generosity. We express our gratitude to God with each breath of life we take as we share generously, save wisely, and spend responsibly. Understanding our stewardship at the personal, congregational, and denominational levels will bless us spiritually and grow us as a community, so that we can respond “more fully and joyfully for the great work to which [we] are called” and engaged (Doctrine and Covenants 154:5b).