How the Bible encourages progress in our giving.
Consider this verse in 1 Thessalonians 4:1-2 - Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we have you through the Lord Jesus.
And later in that same chapter...
1 Thessalonians 4:9-10 - Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more.
May I remind you that when you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, what you get is your freedom (Romans 10:9, Galatians 5:1). Freedom from your bondage to sin, freedom from hopelessness, and freedom from having to perform! When you are united to Christ by faith, his perfect record is imputed to you and you stand perfectly righteous before God (Philippians 3:9). You don't have to live up to some standard or follow any set of rules to be accepted by God. Praise God for his immeasurable grace toward us in Christ Jesus!!
One of the results from knowing this is that we, as a church, are free from having to judge each other or hold each other to a law. What the Bible is showing us in 1 Thessalonians 4 is that God encourages progress and so should we. Instead of impatiently waiting for someone to change their wicked ways, we get to rejoice at every step someone takes toward Christ; big or small.
If we apply this to our giving, it doesn't matter where you're at, God is calling you deeper. For the person that gives thousands of dollars a month and volunteers all their spare time, God is saying, "Let's go deeper. Come on, you're doing it. You're really doing it. Now, more and more." To the person that doesn't give one penny or one hour of their time, God is saying, "I see your heart. I see you coming to church. I see you loving people. You're killing it. You're changing! Now, let's go deeper. Let's kick it up a notch. Come on, more and more love, more and more giving, more pressing in."
Why does the Bible use this language? It's because giving is not how we become righteous before God. We don't have to be perfect givers in order for God to accept us. We are perfectly accepted as a child of God in Christ. And it's because when God is calling us to do something, he's actually leading us into our highest joy in Christ. So he says, "More and more." The more we obey, the more joy and freedom we will have in this life. And the more God's grace will be at work in and through us (1 Corinthians 15:10).
As a special note of encouragement to the person who doesn't give at all, start small. If you'd like to support your church financially and just don't know how to start, commit to one dollar a month. Seriously? Yes. As I said before, if Jesus is the Lord of your life, there's nothing you can do to make God love you and accept you any more than he does now which is more than you can imagine. So you're free to start giving in small ways and allow God to call you deeper from there. Commit to something small and begin to experience the joy of giving. You won't regret it.