This week (well... last week now) we focused on giving our finances.
Typically, before we even get started the question comes up of how much to give. Is it 10% or 23%? Is that net or gross? If you want to get old testament legal, the answer is just under 23% of your gross income. However, I think focusing on just the bottle line misses the point entirely.
Here's a question: How much of your money does God need? None. He's the creator of all things, and in charge of everything. If He wants something to happen, He's not constrained by money.
So given this, why give? If you think of giving your money as an act of worship, it makes more sense. I give God my time, my energy, my thoughts, and my money - all of my resources. The line, "Put your money where you mouth is" comes to mind. It's one thing to say you follow God, it's another to actually give your resources to Him. Yes, actions do speak louder than words.
I think another practical reason for giving is that serves as a reminder that you are just a manager of God's wealth. It's really hard to get into the Scrooge mentality if you're regularly giving. It helps to put your focus back on God instead of acquiring material wealth.
Finally, like it or not, our world requires money to function. This includes your local church and charities. It's through giving that these organizations are able to operate.
OK. Seriously. How much should you give? I'd like to echo the same advice my mom gives people when they're thinking about saving for retirement: It doesn't matter, just start. Maybe you can only give 1% or $50. Perfect! Start there. Maybe you can give over 10%. Wonderful! Give that. Decide how much you can give and start giving regularly. Then adjust as needed as your life changes. Remember, giving is an act of worship.